In the wake of Donald Trump’s scandal exposing his lewd 2005 “hot mic” comments condoning the sexual assault of women, some in Republican leadership have finally and, in the name of self-preservation, pulled their endorsements. Unimpressed with such pearl-clutching, Media Matter’s Oliver Willis and HuffPo’s Jeffrey Young called out a click-bait driven press corps and the Republican Party’s feigned disgust since they were well aware of the xenophobic demagogue whose dangerous rhetoric they worked tirelessly to elevate. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, has run an inclusive campaign rich in policy detail continually obfuscated by the beltway media’s attempts to create a false equivalence between the former Secretary of State and the unfit Trump.
Press coverage this election season has been despicable. Driven by misogyny, personal animus and a cynical desire for ratings, former Secretary of State Clinton’s policy proposals have received scant attention when compared to overloaded coverage denigrating the “A” rated Clinton Foundation and 574 days of wall to wall faux scandal about her emails.
As Secretary of State, Colin Powell likewise used personal email. He turned over zero to the State Department, unlike Clinton who offered up 55,000 pages. Some of them were even returned to her, being deemed personal and having no place in a government record, in fact. During the AG Gonzales scandal in 2007, the Bush administration “lost” 22 million emails that were controlled by an RNC server. Outrage or oversight of Powell (who helped sell the Iraq War) or Bush Administration behavior? Also zero. Neither of these transgressions piqued the media’s curiosity or investigative fervor as they continued turning a blind eye to their myopia.
No politician is without fault, especially one with a career on the national stage spanning decades. Yet only via local newspaper outlets, and a powerful social media presence have we been able to see beyond the hyper-negative narrative of Clinton pushed by Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and others as they put Trump on an equal footing with her. He is not – as over 80 newspaper endorsements of Hillary Clinton clearly show. Trump’s newspaper endorsements? Nary a one. Trump’s CEO endorsements? None either. So much for his business acumen.
Now that huckster Trump’s stench is getting too odious to sweep under the rug any longer, both Beltway media and Republicans are attempting revisionist history to rescue their reputations and careers.
Mr. Willis best described big media’s behavior:
“The reality of the situation is the press in America has done a worse job of covering this election than it did in covering the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The press devoted hundreds of hours and thousands of column inches of uncritical coverage to a wholly unqualified and dangerous presidential candidate, treating his dangerous ideas and thoughts as if they were perfectly within the realm of acceptable, rational political discourse.
Here is a man who called for a ban on Muslim travel to America, prosecution of women for having an abortion, the execution of innocent black men for a rape they did not commit, building a “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border to keep out Mexicans who he smeared as rapists and criminals – and the list goes on and on.
The press in America – print, broadcast, and online – instead of immediately positioning itself as a bulwark against impending fascism, looked at the pageviews and ratings that Trump was bringing in and saw dollar signs. Rather than point out that Trump was directly positioned against the American ideal, they elevated ridiculous “optics” controversies about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation (often fed to them directly via slanted right wing operations) to normalize Trump’s fascistic world view.”
The investigative reporting and conduct of WaPo’s David Fahrenthold, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald and MSNBC’s Joy Reid stand in stark contrast, however, and should be lauded and recognized.
Mr. Young’s censure of Republican Party leadership this cycle is likewise accurate, making very clear why we have found ourselves at this terrifying pass:
“You knew. You all knew. You knew the whole time who and what Donald Trump is.
Mike Pence. Paul Ryan. Mitch McConnell. Ted Cruz. Chris Christie. Newt Gingrich. Orrin Hatch. John McCain. Marco Rubio. Virtually all of you.
You heard every terrible thing he said. You watched every inexcusable thing he did. You knew Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic, misogynistic, authoritarian con man. You knew about his insatiable appetite for power, his bottomless need for affirmation, his dangerous impulsiveness and uncontrollable temper. You knew he was a huckster who ruined businesses and lives. You knew he debased your party, and you personally. You knew.
You knew he waged a racist campaign against the president’s legitimacy. You knew he called immigrants rapists. You knew he advocated forbidding Muslims from American soil. You knew he said a federal judge wasn’t qualified because Mexican blood flowed through his veins. You knew he besmirched the parents of a dead soldier. You knew he mocked prisoners of war. You knew he courted white supremacists. You knew he admires dictators. You knew he incited violence. You knew he lies ― blatantly, shamelessly, ceaselessly.
You knew all of that, and you asked Americans to elect him president anyway. Shame on you. You knew.
Your condemnations are and have always been empty. Your sudden rush to abandon Trump ― after what’s merely the most recently uncovered manifestation of his hatred for women ― is motivated by the same venal cowardice that led you to support him in the first place.
You knew Hillary Clinton isn’t the monstrous caricature you spent decades depicting. You knew she is ― like each and every one of you ― an ordinary politician, in all the ways that word has positive and negative connotations. You knew she would govern in a perfectly normal way.”
Faced with this kind of obstruction and cynicism, Hillary Clinton should continue to stand above Trump’s mudslinging and allow his unfitness for office speak for itself at tonight’s town hall format debate. Clinton’s poise has served her throughout this ugly campaign and will continue to do so. Her prepared mien is focused on earning every vote, answering challenging questions with substance. If everyone gets out and votes, she should prevail next month. And if she does, I have no doubt she will make every effort to reach out to Republicans to find common ground. Will they be chastened enough by their past conduct to entertain that outreach? I’m not hopeful. Nor am I hopeful that the millionaire TV press will find integrity.
The good news here is that the American people seem to see through deceit to make a sensible choice. But as Mssrs. Willis and Young suggest, it is also our job to make sure we don’t let press and Republicans forget what they did – lest they try it again.