Trump and the challenge to the media

Great piece from Brian Beutler on how Trump’s racism presents a particularly difficult problem for American media given journalistic norms.

This attack was unprompted—not that a racist outburst would be a forgivable response to anything, but it was a response to nothing. The four congresswomen weren’t feuding with Donald Trump. They were at odds with members of their own party. The Fox segment was about Democratic infighting. Trump simply saw some black and brown members of Congress challenging their leaders, and tweeted the first smears about them that came to mind. Lo and behold, what occurred to him was foul bigotry…

Republican officialdom now exists to lie about the value system Trump and his feral supporters proudly espouse—that non-white citizens who don’t wear MAGA hats should be defamed and deported—and if you challenge the lie, these Republicans will exploit the suffering of Jews (who overwhelmingly reject Republican politics) to stifle dissent. This is the 2020 campaign they intend to inflict on us… [emphasie mine]

From the moment Trump launched his candidacy, reporters have asserted without qualification that Trump has contempt for norms and institutions, and in important ways, it’s true. All politicians spin but normally they try to avoid lying outright. Thus the fact that Trump lies pathologically can be expressed as a matter of abnormality rather than as a matter of moral deficiency. Modern presidents relinquish control of their assets and place them in blind trust, so Trump’s decision to run a real-estate and branding organization from inside the White House is easily framed as an example of his contempt for norms, rather than as evidence of graft, theft, and other crimes. Trump doesn’t appreciate the values of free speech, rule of law, or free and fair elections, and his unwillingness to conceal those authoritarian predilections is indeed abnormal. But the concept of normalcy fails to capture either the ubiquity or the moral horror of white supremacy. In this realm, it’s not that Trump is abnormal. It’s that he’s bad.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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