I won’t provide you with a tedium of links because if you’re following along at home with US politics and you’re doing so at least partly through mass media, you’ll have already encountered this multiple times, but I do wish to comment on Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, Kat Timpf, Nicole Wallace, and so many others in the media who are acting surprised at Trump’s behavior.
Trump is a horrible excuse for a human being. He didn’t pander to the White Supremacists in the election or this past weekend, he fucking is a White Supremacist (capital letters intended). To see the media simply oozing concern that Trump would issue a classic bothsiderism talking point instead of saying something simple, like “it’s kinda bad when racists kill anti-racists where and when they openly gathered to speak out against racism” (so that there could be no doubt he was killing anti-racists in the act of countering racism).
Mass media have been chock-a-block with bothsiderism for decades now. Rachel Maddow does it. Anderson Cooper does it. Don Lemon does it. Hell, I’ve probably done it. And we are all people who are on record deliberately decrying mindless bothsiderism, and three of us have actual jobs where we’re paid money to tell people what going on … and thus have a professional responsibility not to mislead. The situation is much, much worse when you start looking through the media more broadly. On FtB we might enjoy a good takedown of David Brooks, and he certainly more than deserves every takedown he’s ever received for his bothsiderism, but the problem is so much deeper than that.
David Brooks has the position he does because every up and coming full-time journalist at the NYTimes and Washington Post and every CNN intern and every MSNBC cub reporter wants to be a bothsider someday. They want to be respected by everyone, they see Brooks respected by everyone in their media world, and they think they want to be that.
But it is just as true to say that every journalist, intern, and cub reporter wants to be a bothsider because of David Brooks. There is an interaction here where how the establishment behaves influences how the up-and-comers behave, and how the up-and-comers flatter the establishment affects the speech of establishment voices.
The media has created, over decades, an institution founded on fundamental dishonesty. I am not the first one to observe that, and I surely won’t be the last.
But this post is merely to point out that our media institutions are currently engaged in paralyzing paroxysms of astonished apoplexy at the fact that Trump would say that both sides are to blame for making Charlotte a source of tragedy this weekend.
First, and I should be absolutely clear about this: Charlotte should have gone down in history books as a site of tragedy this past weekend even if no physical violence took place, even if there were no assaults or murders. The gathering of white supremacists in the city is a tragedy and we who live in the US, hold its citizenship, or both must act fiercely against the racism in our country that makes such displays possible.
But second, and back to engaging Trump, specifically, Trump learned to speak from this media. He was wealthy before he was a media personality, and he used his wealth specifically to get attention from that media. He learned from them because he wanted to be David Brooks and Anderson Cooper and, yes, Rosie O’Donnell, or at least be liked them, receive attention like them, appear on TV like them.
The media today being shocked that Donald Trump is kind of an asshole is more reminiscent of that classic Casablanca sentiment, “Shocked. I’m shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment!” than most events I’ve seen described with reference to that phrase. In Casablanca, it was the actual police officer responsible for enforcing the law in the jurisdiction that included the bar that was shocked. And it was obvious he knew about it because immediately thereafter a character offered him, “Your winnings, sir.” It was both a participant in the bad acts and someone with some responsibility for stopping those acts who announced his shock. It was not merely some bystander who had good reason to know this was obviously going on, though we now use that phrase as if anyone with knowledge of something is a parallel for Captain Renault.
Yet the media here is in a worse position even than Renault. Yes, they have some responsibility to tell the truth. Yes, they have been engaged in the same misdeeds as Trump. But this is not merely someone who has corruptly engaged in the same enterprise as those they are shocked to discover engage in evil.
These are Trumps teachers, his professors, his graduate advisors in bothsiderism gnashing their garments and rending their teeth at the possibility that Trump might just have used the “both sides” deflection when it misleading to do so. These fuckers gave him a PhD education in how to say, “War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength” with a straight face to a million-person audience. Now they’re shocked at the misleading nature of bothsiderism? Now?
So let me speak directly to the journalists, the anchors, the commentators:
Don’t you get it you malicious jerk wads? If bothsiderism is to be condemned because it is grossly misleading, then your public outcry over Trump’s impolitic politics is to be condemned every bit as strongly. More so. You can’t educate a man to say that evil is just one side and we really, really have to take the time to understand evil’s perspective and then condemn the man for dishonesty when he says it.
If the problem is dishonesty, then your tear downs of Trump are every bit as bad as Trump’s racist bothsiderism. The idea that you media moguls love bothersiderism but never meant it to support racism can just suck Jeff Sessions’ big toe.
Your open professions of shock only exist to further the malicious deception that the media hasn’t broadcast thousands of statements of racist deflection over the decades. It is absolutely normal for mass media to broadcast such deceptions and to treat them with all seriousness. When you react as you do to Trump as if Trump’s behaviors were somehow new, somehow beyond the pale for their racism or dishonesty, you are throwing Trump under the bus so that your own institutions do not have to face accountability, do not have to face change. When you react as you do to Trump’s latest press conference without admitting your own role and working for change, you succeed in doing the best thing you can possibly do to further racism and guarantee that white supremacists still have access to power. Donald Trump was just as racist, just as sexist, just as vile as Candidate Trump as he is now as President Trump. You could have spent your time reporting that instead of his poll numbers. I think enough of the average US voter that I believe you could have prevented this election by simply and honestly reporting on the substance of all the candidates for US president in this last election. You didn’t.
US media: you are the problem.
We of the USA must burn the whole fucking media enterprise down.