, 01.15.2018 11:55 AM

Column: ink-stained enablers

Who’s to blame?

When the United States of America regains its sanity – when the equivalent of political Nuremberg war crimes trial is convened – who will bear the blame for Donald Trump?  Who is responsible?

There will be plenty of blame to go around.  Russia, of course, for interfering in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, so as to give Trump an extra 79,646 votes and an illegitimate Electoral College “victory.”  The Republican Party, for embracing a “man” who admits to groping women – and who says dark-skinned people live in “huts” and “shitholes” and should not be allowed to set foot in the United States.  Several million Americans, who are apparently just as racist and misogynistic as their man.

But we in the media will be in the metaphorical prisoner’s dock, too.  We deserve to be.

We in the media share in the guilt for the chaos and division unleashed by Trump.  We mocked his candidacy before he won the Republican nomination.  And then, when he won, we swore that he’d never become president.  And when he topped the Electoral College – criminally aided and abetted by the aforementioned Russia – we said he’d be swiftly impeached.

But a year later, Donald Trump is still President of the United States.  And some of us bear responsibility for that.

This writer has a book coming out from Dundurn Press next year, loosely about the Trump era.  It is called New Dark Ages.  In a couple passages, I try to explain how those of us who ostensibly predict political events have gotten rather bad at it.

“The press called [him] a bigot and a white supremacist, and everything in between.  But, to Republicans, it didn’t matter.  The media didn’t understand that the Republican faithful weren’t gravitating towards to his campaign despite his racism – they were supporting him because of it.

“…the mainly-rural, high-school-educated, angry old white guys loved [Trump], wasn’t just because of what he said. They worshiped him because of how he said it – the way he said it. They loved him because he talked like they did, when they were in the privacy of a dark room in a trailer park somewhere. They loved that he didn’t use twenty-dollar words when two-dollar words would suffice. They loved that he said outrageous, offensive things, and that the queers on TV couldn’t resist reporting on what he said, and then analyzing it over and over and over. He stirred up the elites and the intellectuals.

And when they did that, they were letting [Trump] control the agenda. They were letting him dominate the dialogue. And, in some cases, [Trump] was therefore literally getting as much as a thousand times the coverage his more-experienced rivals were getting.”

Many of us in the media privately (and not-so-privately) despise Trump, but we can’t stop talking about him.  We chase every shiny silver ball he rolls past us.

Since he has become President, the media’s inability to understand Trumpism has only grown worse.  Facebook, for instance, last week announced that it would start minimizing real news stories on its platform – and, apparently, encouraging photos of kittens and birthday parties instead.  Twitter has announced its cracking down on racists who post hateful comments – but has continued to let the Hater-in-Chief, Donald Trump, to thumb out whatever foul thing that pops into his miniscule cranium.

Platforms like Huffington Post – which, full disclosure, I parted ways with last week, because of their willingness to shield Trump-like sexual predators from scrutiny – don’t even pay a cent to those who contribute to their web sites, and then wonder why journalism is dying.  And then Trump imposes a punitive duty of Canadian newsprint, clearly – as CFRA radio host Brian Lilley pointed out – to punish his critics at places like the Washington Post and the New York Times.

What we in the media are doing in respect of Trump’s new dark ages, we are doing wrong.  We diagnosed the disease wrongly – and, now that the pandemic is fully underway, we are merely advising a couple of aspirin and some bed rest.

We can do more, and we should do more.  We need to re-evaluate the way we cover Trump, and we need to change our ways.

Because whatever we are doing is working only for him.  And it’s not working for the people we serve – our readers and listeners and viewers.

21 Comments

  1. Matt from Ottawa says:

    I agree with the musing for the most part Warren. And kudos for parting ways with HuffPo for integrity reasons. However, in your 2nd paragraph, you fail to mention that atleast in Wisconsin, a large part for Hilary losing was the fact she didnt visit the state during the election. That sort of thing turns off the electorate

  2. William R Morrison says:

    ” when they were in the privacy of a dark room in a trailer park somewhere.” Sneering at people who live in trailer parks certainly won’t win their support.

  3. the salamander horde says:

    .. systemic failure ..
    The world has no medicine to counter Donald Trump.. it has no medicine to counter the systemic disease of the GOP.. or the Democratic Party. Medical analogies or metaphors are easy to find.. but nothing fits better than obvious reality.

    How far behind the USA are we in Canada in terms of infection and comorbid political & media corruption.. and does it really matter? Is there an innoculation? One might think mainstream & now indy media might be of help, but the one shouts down the other.. so far.

    Prognosis.. extremely poor, situation grave.

    • Obvious Sock-puppet #12 says:

      Mr. Trudeau, whatever his short-comings (e.g., politically his own worst enemy, sense of entitlement, whatever), is nevertheless at least a decent human being. Unlike Mr. Trump.

      Mr. Scheer is neither as skilled as Mr. Trump, nor even remotely as odious.

      As for Mr. Singh: yes, it is true, just like Mr. Trump, there is a fair bit of orange above his eyebrows — but anyone who thinks this means anything at all about any resemblance between the two men (and, to get to the heart of the matter, the character and moral centre of each of these two men), needs to drop the crack pipe, now.

      So, no matter which of the three Canadian federal political parties might hypothetically be in government, we get a decent human being as Prime Minister.

      Unlike what the Americans have as their Head of Government at the moment.

      I’d suggest to you that the prognosis for Canada is not poor at all, — and if our situation is grave, it is only in that, like the rest of the world, we’ll be having to deal with all the fallout¹ from the Trump Presidency, too.
      _____________
      ¹ Perhaps literally radioactive, at that.

  4. Obvious Sock-puppet #12 says:

    To William R. Morrison: the central problem with Mr. Kinsella’s thesis (or, analysis) here isn’t that he is “sneering” at anyone. (Honestly: is he?)

    It’s that his thesis (analysis, whatever) reads as though he is unaware that large numbers of women, blacks, Hispanics, etc. either stayed home on an important day back in the Fall of 2016, or else actually got out and voted for some guy who shampoos with Cheeto Dust, to be their President.

    Subtract those votes away from his (cough) “Landslide” (cough), and add the stay-at-homes to Ms. Clinton’s side of the ledger, and we have a different outcome entirely to the last American Presidential Election.

    Any analysis which ignores this critical set of facts, cannot solve the puzzle of the current Presidency.

    To Mr. Kinsella’s credit, here he is at least accepting that “Big Media” are somehow complicit in this mess. Maybe I just don’t get around much, but I don’t recall seeing any similar Mea Culpa in the NYT, WashPo, etc. …

    • Obvious Sock-puppet #12 says:

      … also, a big pile of Amrican Millenial voters (of every possible sub-variety) who would never, ever have voted for Trump, didn’t go out and cast their ballot for Clinton, but stayed home instead: why?

      Factor this fact in with the others, or the electoral post-mortem analysis fails again also.

    • Obvious Sock-puppet #12 says:

      *American.

      Whatever.

  5. WestGuy says:

    So why, after 200 years, is the electoral college all of a sudden illegitimate? It’s not just you, I’ve heard a lot of grumbling about it since 2016. I don’t remember hearing many complaints before that though.
    I’m no historical scholar but, from my understanding, the creation of the electoral college helped pave the way to the creation of the United States.

    • doconnor says:

      In two of the last five elections, the electoral college resulted in a president who didn’t win the popular vote. I believe that only happened one other time.

      When that kind of thing happens in Canada, it gets people talking about proportional representation.

      • WestGuy says:

        What do you mean “when” that happens in Canada? It happens in Canada all the time. The winning party almost never gets a majority of the popular vote. The last time was Mulroney and before that it was Diefenbaker.

        • doconnor says:

          I didn’t say “majority”. By “win” I meant to get the most votes.

          For example, in the 1996 BC election, the Liberal got the most votes, but the NDP got the most seats and a majority. That lead to a series of referendums on PR.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      WestGuy,

      I guess you weren’t around for Bush vs. Gore in 2000.

    • Eric Weiss says:

      Everybody pisses and moans about the electoral system when their side loses. Same thing happens here whenever someone’s party loses to an opponent who gets less than 50% of the popular vote. You can’t go to play football, then piss and moan because it’s not a hockey game. You knew the system, and if the shoe was on the other foot, you sure as hell wouldn’t be complaining about it. It’s sour grapes and crybaby BS.

      • Pedant says:

        Nobody is denying that Donald Trump is legitimately president as per the electoral rules.

        The point being made is that those rules are outdated and anti-democratic and should be modified moving forward. The population of California has ballooned to the point where the ratio of electoral votes to population in California, when compared with Wyoming or Delaware, has become absurdly unfair.

        If Trump wins re-election in 2020 while losing the popular vote again, there trickle of calls demanding change will become a tsunami.

        • David Ray says:

          I doubt Donald Trump will be alive in 2020. I don’t care about him. I fear the neo-fascists who hide in the dirt beneath the shine like the odious Stephen Miller who I believe is the one writing Trump’s tweets. The Donald isn’t smart enough. You better believe it’s the Miller’s and Bannon’s or someone worse who will run in 2020. Then cue the armbands and balcony speeches and I ain’t talking Juliet here.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    Got to disagree. There’s a reason why Trump is at 33-39% and that’s because of the relentless pounding by MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, etc.

    They all recognize that Trump will ultimately undo Trump and are acting accordingly.

  7. NR says:

    Maybe you are overlooking the most obvious possibility – everything in your twisted progressive worldview is just plain wrong.

  8. Brian Dundas says:

    While I agree with most of what you said, Warren, you make one crucial error in your framing. And it is this error that will make all the difference. There will be no political Nuremberg trial. Since Ford pardoned Nixon and Obama looked the other way on GOP-sanctioned torture and Wall Street sanctioned theft, there no longer exists a rule of law for leaders in the US. They, including the media, will “look forward, not backward,” and will adhere to the ideal that “we can’t politicize policy differences.” Functioning democratic accountability will remain entrenched where it is – in the morgue. The US, as divided as it is, will therefore remain prone to many more Trumps (the GOP is currently filling up with them). Just one competent despot, festooned with political immunity, will finish off the Republic.

    • David Ray says:

      Nailed it. We will see a Stephen Miller or somesuch presidency before we see a Camilla Harris or Elizabeth Warren one.

  9. David Ray says:

    the trailer park comment was wrong. you have to hope you can turn their kids around. To them I say…

    “You praise the commander/play hail to the chief
    as he rips off your conscience/with practiced deceit
    and still you do nothing/because you’ve been bought
    by fast food truth/hey thanks a lot

    but you can be my brother/or be my sister too
    now put down that gun/there’s no need to shoot
    the only thing you’ll kill/is another point of view
    you’ve been taught to fear/by some fools on cable news

    do not bend/do not break/do not waste time on hate
    do not crash/do not burn/stop listen and learn

    you are being used
    you are being used

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