Trump And The Media ... It's Deja Vu All Over Again
"We ended up dancing around a demagogue. . . . The audience laughing at his comments about Jean Carroll. Disgraceful." -- A CNN on-air personality on Trump's town hall
"CNN Leadership Under Fire After 'Disastrous' Trump Town Hall" -- Washington Post
I can't help but experience a measure of schadenfreude over the bashing CNN is taking for giving twice impeached, currently indicted, habitual sexual predator, seditionist, and liar Donald Trump an hour in prime time before an audience of his klan to spew lies and hurl insults. It was exactly the shit show everyone knew it was destined to be with the possible exception of CNN CEO and Chairman Chris Licht. Hopefully, this turd plopping into the punchbowl so early in the 2024 presidential election cycle will serve as a forewarning to the news media and cause them to reflect on how they should handle the gravest threat to America and democracy in a generation as we head towards the next campaign season.
Until the summer of 2015, I was a regular guest on CNN and MSNBC (and occasionally on Fox News) for a couple of years where I was invited to talk about issues related to the military, national security, and public policy. Shortly after Trump descended on the golden escalator and announced that he was running for president, cable news outlets began giving him what seemed to be limitless air time. While many dismissed Trump as an attention-seeking buffoon and gave his campaign the same odds as a snowball's chance of surviving in hell, I saw that what might be good for cable news ratings could end up being bad for the country, so I criticized the news media and warned that they were normalizing a maniac who could be a clear and present danger to America.
Jake Tapper had Trump on his Sunday morning show State of the Union in June 2015 soon after Trump entered the presidential race. When I criticized Jake on Twitter for pumping oxygen into Trump's campaign and helping to normalize a degenerate in the eyes of the public, he sent me a direct message saying to watch the show, he was going to really grill Trump. Well, he didn't. When he interviewed Trump again not long after, I again criticized him for aiding and abetting Trump. This time, I got a condescending direct message from Jake saying he was tired of my chronic negativity ... and I've never heard from him again.
It was much the same over at MSNBC. Joe Scarborough and Mike Brzezinski talked incessantly about Trump on their Morning Joe show and gave him air time whenever he wanted it, which was often. When I criticized them and others at MSNBC and warned that they were normalizing a deviant who could end up in the White House, Joe Scarborough blocked me on Twitter.
After I criticized both CNN and MSNBC over the summer of 2015 for promoting Trump and his campaign, the regular invitations I used to get came to an abrupt and permanent halt.
Eventually, Joe and Mika realized they made a mistake. They have acknowledged it and they have consistently been among Trump's harshest critics ever since. Oh! And Joe later unblocked me on Twitter.
I'm happy that the news networks seem to recognize the role they played in helping Trump execute his Goebbels-style propaganda blitz (tell big lies, keep repeating them, and eventually they are accepted as truths) in the 2016 election. This time around, I hope they choose to put the good of the country and the world ahead of ratings and revenue. Yes, Trump is a former president and he's a candidate again, so he's newsworthy, but the media can't give him limitless and airtime and an unchecked platform. They have to stand up and call his lies lies. They have to provide context to the public on the ramifications of the nonsense Trump spews. And they have to note the cowardice of those who choose to abandon their principles and embrace the most immoral, incompetent, and corrupt president in American history for the sake of personal power and profit.
And this time, the news media needs to do one more thing they didn't do the first time around ... they need to not shoot the messenger who challenge them to think about the consequences of their actions.