Shell shocked after seven months of Trump’s presidency, appalled in particular at his equivocating remarks defending racists after the disgrace of Charlottesville, we still struggle to understand how we got here. Roxane Gay’s NYT op-ed Hate That Doesn’t Hide states what so many of us feel:
“Angry white men holding tiki torches and shouting their throats raw chanting “blood and soil,” spittle hanging from their lips. Angry white men, arms outstretched in the Nazi salute. Angry white men playing soldier, heavily armed in public. Nazi flags, Confederate flags, American flags, “Make America Great Again” hats. Bodies clashing. A slate-gray car barreling into people standing up to racism. Bodies flying.
For the past week, I have seen hate thriving in plain sight. I am disgusted. I am angry. I am worried. And I keep thinking about how different things would be if Hillary Clinton had been elected president. I was, like so many of us, wildly overconfident about her chances. Her presidency was a certainty in my mind and in my heart. And then, it wasn’t.
Instead, it is 2017 and white supremacists no longer feel the need to wear hoods to hide their racism and anti-Semitism.”
When Hillary Clinton repeatedly warned of this in her 2016 campaign, she was dismissed by big media. Her supporters knew she was right, but I agree with Ms. Gay that we had too much faith in people’s better nature and were blindsided by how much support for Trump’s hateful, fear-mongering, xenophobic, misogynist rhetoric exists.
We also could not imagine that a woman with an impressive 40-year record of helping others could have her character so destroyed by those with an obvious financial motive. Pundits’ and news anchors’ horrid treatment of Hillary parroted Right Wing and alt-left smear, that’s sure, yet Hillary Clinton faced two other hurdles with her supporters.
First, Hillary Clinton suffers from Hermione Granger syndrome: She engenders much confidence because she is uber-prepared and capable, tending to make people believe she has it “in the bag”, so some may not work as hard for her as they otherwise could. Second, those who did go “to the wall” for Hillary were likely outnumbered by those who felt as Ms. Gay did: “I did not have the energy to deal with the inevitable backlash, from corners right and left.” These two hurdles were interrelated:
Wasn’t that “backlash” implicitly encouraged by network media’s disrespectful behavior toward Hillary? Wasn’t the aversion Ms. Gay felt to dealing with such obstacles baked into beltway media’s cake? And perhaps the uber-confidence in “Hermione”, while sincere, was also a way to avoid having to fight loudly for her because of fear of being attacked for it.
Those who did battle hard to see Hillary elected, and they were many, were regularly hacked, threatened and harassed (including yours truly). Bullying, shaming and verbal or physical intimidation are effective techniques to stifle women’s voices. Which is why, while not ignoring the damage done by Russian hackers and FBI’s rogue Director Comey, beltway media remains ultimately responsible for Trump. His unfitness for office cannot be overstated.
Beltway pundits and anchors’ deeper sin was covering a dedicated public servant as though she were the anti-Christ. In so doing, they denied supporters the rightful pride and joy they felt at campaigning for Hillary, who had comprehensive policies designed to help the very people Trump carelessly looks to harm. By 24/7 making her as “ugly” as possible while giving him $2 Billion of free airtime to spew white supremacist dog whistles, their message was: ‘Come on in, ladies, fight for her. We dare you. You’ll get a taste of what she’s getting.’ Big media forced anyone campaigning to play defense, responding to nonsensical charges rather than trumpeting Hillary’s well crafted policy — which she successfully connected with millions.
Mainstream media (not local reporters) also worked tirelessly to generate TV revenue by pumping Trump’s faux “populist” narrative. Ms. Gay notes that “back in November pundits began attributing Mr. Trump’s win to “economic anxiety,” because they were unwilling to face the blatant racism that fueled his popularity.” Yet I think it’s more than being unwilling to see the truth. News media did see it, yet allowed personal animus, jealousy of Hillary’s abilities and a cynical desire for profit dictate their actions.
You can choose to believe major networks either ignored the racism and misogyny glaring to the rest of us or are so bloody naïve, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing and hearing. I’ll go with the former, thanks, since it is daily more apparent that these operatives keep pushing revisionist history and would rather (each) have their fingernails pulled out than admit culpability for their 24/7 scandal-mongering coverage of Clinton’s BS emails and little else.
Just last night, with Trump’s “look over there, squirrel!” Afghanistan speech, he once again received pundits’ praise for “at last becoming President” while some of these same lying media liars found the time earlier in the day to take more swipes at Hillary.
Hillary Clinton was and is expected to be perfect while an incestuous beltway media continually “applauds the tenor for clearing his throat.”* Part of their continued excuse-making for this man is to distract from and absolve themselves of their shoddy election coverage.
Further, per Lisa Solod’s piece in Dame Magazine, The Silencing of the Hillary Clinton Supporter:
“The media’s obsession with the white populist narrative serve[d] two purposes: telling women who supported Hillary they don’t matter and exonerating itself from being culpable in her loss.” … “White, brown, and black voters, who understood full well the ramifications of a Trump presidency, are rarely if ever revisited.”
This was not dissimilar from the 2008 primaries when Hillary voters were derided by pundits and anchors as “low information.” It was not only implied they were “vagina voters” but every effort was made to shame anyone who supported her. (Want evidence? Here ya go). They may as well say:
You don’t exist because we say you don’t …and we print ink by the barrel, so we win.
Almost 66 million voters are to this day receiving this message.
How did the media pick our president this time? First, they took a woman, a former First Lady and 2-term Senator, who stepped down as Secretary of State with 68% popularity and systematically smeared her, feverishly penning one empty innuendo, “optics” or sexist piece of dreck after another. For detailed proof of this, please read The New York Times’ Vendetta Against Hillary Clinton.
Next, beyond mere bias, the media’s brutal coverage of Hillary also worked against her in ways related to the complaints made by both Ms. Gay and Ms. Solod, in that mainstream media’s disrespectful interviews and bashing coverage telegraphed to the “Bro” culture that there is no limit to the dirt that can be heaped upon this (or any) woman. No one will stop you or call you out. Their behavior, (networks like CNN let Trump surrogates spout falsehoods unchallenged), also gave Trump blanket permission to do the same. Isn’t that another way of suppressing her votes and those who would campaign vigorously on her behalf? That this woman won 3 million more votes than her opponent is miraculous under the circumstances.
Why does this matter now, more than ever? Because revisionist history ensures the same outcome will be repeated if and when Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand step to the plate. Indeed, the smears and negative narratives about their “corruption” have already begun – from both Right and Left, as per usual. [emphasis added]
In closing, Lisa Solod quotes Hillary Clinton, who “in her speech to the Wellesley graduating class, exhorted women to”:
“Keep going. Don’t be afraid of your ambition, of your dreams, or even your anger. Those are powerful forces. But harness them to make a difference in the world. Stand up for truth and reason. Do it in private, in conversations with your family, your friends, your workplace, your neighborhoods, and do it in public. In media posts, on social media, or grab a sign and head to a protest. Make defending truth and a free society a core value of your life every single day.”
Defending truth and a free society are more vital than ever not only in the (hopefully short-lived) age of Trump, but in an age of remorseless network media bosses who seem bereft of decency or conscience.
Don’t let them off the hook. Ever.
*quote from Les Liaisons Dangereuse by Christopher Hampton.
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