There’s plenty of embarrassing to go around this election season. Some of it beyond the GOP presidential field.
Donald Trump is a historically bad candidate, yes. Barry Goldwater bad, in that he is likely to signify a sea change in how the country is run and by whom. But it was Marco Rubio who made the first dick joke, about the size of Trump’s hands, and he’s the Republican establishment’s choir boy. The less said about Ted Cruz, the better, so I’ll leave the background to others.
As a media watcher / former participant, the interesting thing to me is how completely the media have abandoned any shred of impartiality in going after The Donald. I’ll skip over the “liberal” media, because we all expect the NYT editorial page to shrink in horror from Trump:
- There’s the whole Rubio / Trump “size of his hands” thing, where Rubio essentially got a pass from the media and then Trump was excoriated for responding. I’m not defending either, mind you, just noting the difference in the reception. One was a bad line from a debate, the other was a sign of the apocalypse.
- Fox News moderators showing up to a debate with an attack plan, including background clips and graphics. I
didn’tcouldn’t bear to watch the whole thing, but I didn’t see or hear of anything like that for any of the other candidates. And the GOP went apeshit over “harsh” questioning by NBC moderators in October. Imagine the furor if they had gone after a GOP favorite son as hard as Megyn Kelly & Co. went after Trump. And they were congratulated for doing it. Shouldn’t we ask hard questions of all the candidates?
- The combined consensus that Ted Cruz winning his home state and such bastions of moderation as Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas gave him enough momentum to knock off Trump. Now that might be true … but a neutral read would be that it might have given him the momentum he needs but we won’t have a real clue until the March 8 votes or more clearly until March 15, particularly since the states that just voted are the kind of states Cruz absolutely, positively needs. Trump is leading in every poll in Michigan and in the minimal polling done in Mississippi and Idaho and unlike the past weekend’s voting, these states are open to swing voters, where Trump’s strength is. Without waiting for some sort of confirmation before anointing Cruz the second coming, this is simply trying to swing the electorate, not reporting. It’s a collective gamble by the media, because if Trump wins on Tuesday it will reinforce his “winner” spiel and likely solidify his chances in places like Florida and Ohio … and if Trump wins Florida and Ohio, he’s going to be the GOP nominee. He’ll be at something like 700 delegates, Cruz under 450 (after the entire Deep South has voted) and Rubio and Kasich with all the potential of a used rubber on the floor of an airport john.
At that point, the weasels looking for a cabinet post will start moving to the Trump camp in hordes, not one at a time, and the anti-Trump movement will fizzle as the Republican faithful start to face life with either President Trump or President Hillary & First Gentleman Bill Clinton and they will by and large choose Trump.
(Speaking of media whoredom, yes, the lead weasel is the one first endorsed, then unendorsed by the Manchester (NH) Union Leader, which ought to be solid proof that New Hampshire needs to be removed from the first primary slot and that visionary leadership like Joe McQuaid’s is why newspapers are disappearing.)
- But the pièce de résistance has to be the fawning coverage of Mitt Romney’s takedown of Trump, which was widely and uncritically covered by virtually every major media outlet. Among the nuggets that fell unquestioned from the mouth of the King of Bain was Romney calling Trump “greedy.” Pot, kettle, etc. It’s true that some outlets did get around to questioning Romney, but he got an entire day’s news cycle right before the most recent round of primaries with all the rigorous cross examination one would expect from the North Korean media when the Dear Leader talks. And I still haven’t seen anyone call Romney out for the “greedy” shot.
The interesting fallout will be the relationship between Fox News and its viewers. Long accusers of “mainstream media bias,” Fox has (with a couple of exceptions) thrown in with the GOP elite — where the money is — and put itself at odds with a substantial portion of its sheeple. If angry white men abandon Fox, who’s left for an audience?
It’s easy to dismiss these kinds of concerns with the arguments that pulling back on the leader is just a function the media loving a horse race. Which might hold water if it hadn’t taken approximately forever for the same media to discover that there was a second candidate on the Democratic side. The most sympathetic defense of that coverage was that it was an honest but systemic failure, which means that the best thing you can say about the coverage of both sides of primary season has been a cluster fuck.
Whether or not Trump wins the GOP nomination — and he’s the odds on favorite — it will be another confirmation to the mass audience, the Silent Minority, if you will, who tuned out “MSM,” that the media in untrustworthy, that the fix is in. And on the evidence, it’s true.
Trump is a creation of the media chasing spectacle over substance, of “if it bleeds it leads,” of Fox Propaganda Network pulling the country to the right regardless of the cost. Now we’re reaping the whirlwind. But don’t say we weren’t warned.