I keep trying to put my finger on this strange feeling I get every time I turn on cable news. It’s like the news media – even as they report the biggest story ever – fail to grasp how big the story is. A patch of grass fascinates them. Too bad it’s in the middle of the football pitch where they’re playing the World Cup Final! Or they’ll obsess on an ordinary rock someone just found – right near Everest’s summit. They always seem to miss the point. By a light year or two. But, they sure do make the point: you can’t see extraordinary times through an ordinary lens. It distorts out all the extraordinary.
Our Press: Paragons Of Ordinary
Our news media allowed Donald Trump turn racism from extraordinary into ordinary. And he did it on Day One of his campaign in 2016. Remember? He oozed down that golden escalator and announced that “Mexicans are rapists”. How extraordinary!
In the news media’s defense, they did react in the moment. They saw “Mexicans are rapists” as extraordinary and pointed at it! Remember, “Mexicans are rapists” wasn’t the only bombshell in Trump’s announcement. But, a basic tenet of American politics is if you go THAT racist? You’re toast.
Never mind the American People bumping on it, the press will bump on it – and never stop bumping on it. Well… that was the supposition. It was wrong.
The Big Liar
Trump is both a pathological liar and an expert liar. He doesn’t know where it all begins or ends. The lies are all so big now there is no beginning or end. That’s no defense. The rest of that day’s word salad was equally rife with bullshit and horse shit. “Mexicans are rapists” was the tidy bow on it all.
All the news media had to do was dig in its heels. Even a little. But, a few days later, “pussy grabbing” dropped.
Pussy Grabbing V Her Emails
Again in the news media’s defense: the “pussy grabbing” tape was compelling stuff! But, what happened immediately afterwards (“Her Emails!”)? That was bullshit! It directed the news media away from the story – by design! And “pussy grabbing” shouldn’t have been the story. The story should still have been “Mexicans are rapists”. The press should still have been demanding better answers than they got.
Imagine if the news media had NOT turned away from “Mexicans are rapists” and, instead, had demanded a good answer from Trump. Because a good answer never “forthcame“, the demands should never have stopped. That would have colored “pussy grabbing” differently.
Instead, our news media turned it into “A Brand New Thing Unconnected To The First Thing”. That was terrible journalism. They disconnected “Mexicans are rapists” from “pussy grabbing”. Each should have derailed Trump. Together? They spoke to how much Donald Trump should never have been president.
“But her emails…!” mattered more than “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” combined! To our news media, that is.
Once all that happened? The fix was in. Regardless of what Trump did, our news media was going to view it through a “normal” lens. If he lied? they normalized the lies into lesser offenses. If he openly betrayed us by giving away secrets? Trump was a “new kind of POTUS” with a “new kind” of relationship with Russia.
Nothing Ordinary About Treason
There is NOTHING ordinary about treason. What sucks most is that our news media has reported both Trump’s treason and the GOP’s treason. Had they not normalized it? Who knows how much further along we’d be toward fixing what the Republican Party broke.
I keep hearing a line from Sweeny Todd in my head. In view of a crap situation – with a dead body he has to get rid of – he says: “These are desperate times, Mrs. Lovett, and desperate measures are called for”.
I’m old enough to remember when turning on cable news was boring. Man, wouldn’t we all love to get back to those good ol’ days! Alas, even as cable news sticks an ordinary lens in front of their coverage, we can’t NOT see all the extraordinary Republican criminality going on in the background.