It’s horrifying. I never, until very recently, thought I would say the words or even think the thought, “If Trump wins…” A year ago I assured my daughter and her early-20s friends, from my vantage point of observing many presidential elections, to wipe the concern from their trembling souls. The primaries are a completely different animal, I intoned. You can’t get away with that stuff when you’re facing one sane opponent, before the entire nation, not just the bat guano crazy tea party Republicans. Today’s GOP is a circus (albeit a dangerous one) and it figures that the best clown wins.
- L. Mencken famously, presciently wrote, nearly a century ago, “No one in this world… has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.” But I thought there was a limit, a line. There must be, right? I was wrong. Kids, I’m really sorry. But at least you haven’t spent a year dreading your Blade Runner future.
You can start now.
Get scared enough to make sure you and all your friends vote, for Clinton. Yeah, even the Bernie zealots. Put down that Stein, don’t touch that Johnson. This is no time to “make a statement.” The barbarians are at the gate, and they don’t much cotton to statements or even free speech.
But if Trump does win, I will place the blame where it really belongs, with my tribe, the media, who let the voters be stupid and proud of it. All the lies and slander out of the mouth of the TV reality show star made for great ratings and they couldn’t resist. As they continued to leave most of what Trump spouted unchallenged, it of course gained legitimacy, to the point where Trump voters now don’t care if he’s lying, that’s just The Donald, and we love him for it. If the media had done its job, even just a little, it would be a shameful thing in America to admit you supported his fascist hate speech.
IT WAS HILLARY!
The media seems to have collectively awakened and grown a small backbone in the last week or so. But it might well be too little too late.
I think it happened after Trump called an “urgent” press conference Sept. 16, all the media showed up and trained their cameras on an empty stage and tried to fill the time, talking about Trump, until he finally showed up, nearly an hour later. He spent most of his speaking time promoting his new Trump Hotel in Washington (where the “press conference” was), then issued a terse comment: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”
No apology, no explanation. But he did add the outrageous lie that “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean.” Then he left. No questions taken, no press conference, just a Trump Hotel promotion broadcast to the world. Such a deal. The “Art” of the Deal. Shortly after, caught on camera, the entire empty stage collapsed, crash! What perfect symbolism.
I think that was the wake-up call for many in the media, who finally realized how embarrassingly they had let themselves be played by this carnival barker.
Last Friday the biggest story on the front page of the LA Times was headlined, “No comparison between Clinton and Trump plans,” and Sunday they gave her their endorsement (“An easy decision”) and ran this front page headline: “Scope of Trump’s lies unmatched.”
The New York Times went with this headline Monday: “With Pay Rising, Millions Climb Out of Poverty” — an obvious swipe at Trump’s dystopian fear gimmick, and on Saturday published a long piece titled “A Week of Whoppers from Donald Trump,” totaling 31, broken down into categories. “Virtually all of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods directly bolstered a powerful and self-aggrandizing narrative depicting him as a heroic savior for a nation menaced from every direction.”
Well. You could have picked any week months ago and run the same piece, NY Times. You could have done one every week. But you didn’t. Ditto all across the media landscape. And that is the problem. News was always a business but it used to value its credibility. Now it’s just part of the corporate entertainment division.
MEDIA CREATES MONSTER
By abandoning, until very recently, civilized values in exchange for 30 pieces of silver, the media have created a close race where there should never have been one. (May I add at this point, Democrats: too bad you didn’t give Bernie a fair shake. Had he gotten the nomination, he’d be trouncing Trump with his populist message, millions of new voters would be headed to the polls, you’d take back the Senate and maybe even the House, and we wouldn’t be worried silly every day what manufactured scandal might next pop up from Hillary’s past, some molehill for Trump to call a mountain, put his name on it and scramble to the top, pursing his lips and waving his silly hand gestures. It’s worked so far. Bernie said enough with the emails, but that didn’t stick, did it?)
It is, of course, really, Obama’s fault. By being elected President — twice — he became the lightning rod for all the bigotry in this country that used to hide behind closed doors. The tea party said the most godawful things about him and emboldened others to follow suit, and the pompous con artist who railed for five years that the black guy in the White House was an illegitimate President because he was born in Kenya, rode that racist junkyard dog to notoriety and eventually the nomination for President of the United States.
Because Obama took a healthy economy and sent it over a cliff — oh, wait, no, the economy is booming, the stock market’s soaring, Obama succeeded so amazingly despite declared GOP obstruction of everything he tried to do, that now America needs Trump to “make America great again”? Excuse me, Alice, but which way did that rabbit go? Wake me mid-November, and please show me a good headline.
By CHARLES ANDREWS
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I really don’t appreciate the [Clinton] campaign’s thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact-checkers.” — Kellyanne Conway, Trump campaign manager
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org