Sunday, August 07, 2016

"In place of a daily Two Minutes Hate directed at the Republican nominee..."

The media's foolish moralizing on Donald Trump: "The elite media is jam-packed with moralists who have collectively decided in the days since Donald Trump trained his rhetorical fire on Khizr and Ghazala Khan that any pretense of covering the presidential campaign dispassionately deserves to be thrown out the window...

Whatever the motive, the moralistic outbursts should stop. Report what Trump says. Tell us what the Clinton/Kaine campaign and other politicians say in response. And analyze what it all means. But jumping into the political fray en masse, explicitly attacking the Republican nominee, declaring his statements beyond the pale — it isn't smart, and it will do nothing to reinforce the political norms that the Trump campaign itself is actively shredding. In fact it's far more likely to deepen the already widespread distrust of elite institutions in general and the mainstream media in particular. Consider the Khan affair. Were Trump's remarks tasteless? Absolutely. But no more so — I'd actually say quite a bit less so — than countless other comments he's made over the past year. But wait: How dare I! This is a Gold Star family! A grieving father and mother whose son, Army Captain Humayan Khan, gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country! What could be more horrifying than to slander them? Here's the thing: The moment Khizr and Ghazala Khan took the stage at the DNC to deliver a speech that savaged the Republican presidential nominee and endorsed the Democratic presidential nominee, they ceased to be any old "Gold Star family." They became political actors and legitimate political targets. You can't claim immunity from political attack after you've launched an attack of your own in primetime at a political convention...

...should members of the media actively join the battle on the anti-Trump side? The answer is no. Trump was able to take over the GOP this year because millions of Republican voters felt ignored — disenfranchised — by both parties. When hundreds of journalists and other members of the country's political and intellectual elite close ranks, denouncing Trump in unison and in lockstep, attempting to excommunicate him from the political conversation, the voters who consider Trump their voice feel denounced and excommunicated, too. It often seems that a lot of the country's most prominent journalists and intellectuals would love nothing so much as to be able to make these voters vanish, or shame them back into silence. That, I'm afraid, is a fantasy. Trump is probably going to lose decisively on Nov. 8. But on Nov. 9, the millions of people who cast ballots for him, who felt heard and championed for the first time in a very long time, will still be here. They are our fellow citizens. They aren't going anywhere. The rest of us need to get used to that. And stop acting like we can somehow wish or ridicule away those with whom we profoundly disagree."

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