John Cole detects a disturbance in the Farce:
The Dick Whisperer is shrill. https://t.co/uaO97Uddq3
— John Cole (@Johngcole) December 2, 2015
Beltway creature Dana Milbank is pointing out the obvious: Trump is a racist and a bigot. But we’ve known that all along. As Milbank himself acknowledges, Trump’s true colors have been on public display for more than 25 years, at least since he purchased newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for the black and Hispanic juveniles who were (falsely!) accused of gang rape in the Central Park jogger case.
More recently, Trump was a high-profile band-wagoneer in the baldly racist “birther” movement; he claimed to have dispatched investigators to Hawaii to uncover evidence that the president wasn’t a US citizen back in 2011. So why is this apparently lifelong racist and bigot being called out now?
A few days ago, another Beltway media creature, Jake Tapper, called a Trump advisor out for Trump’s lies about thousands of Muslims in New Jersey taking to the streets to cheer the World Trade Center terrorist attacks as well as Trump’s mockery of a disabled NYT reporter. The advisor flat-out lies, and Tapper is moved to display the incredulity and exasperation he might have more properly expressed when he interviewed Trump himself earlier. Again, why now?
An article in Vox by David Roberts poses an interesting theory:
Their [the Beltway media’s] trepidation has less to do with the fact of Trump lying than with the way he lies. They don’t mind being properly lied to; it’s all part of the game. What they cannot countenance is being rendered irrelevant.[snip]
The old-guard political media has always seen itself as a disinterested referee. But what they confront now is aggressive, unapologetic nonsense, piped up from a nationalist, ethnocentric, revanchist conservative base through the mouth of one Donald J. Trump. He is forcing them to choose sides, to accept his bare assertions and make a mockery of their purported allegiance to accuracy … or to call him out and, in the eyes of his supporters, formally align against him.
The conceptual space for neutrality has all but disappeared. Media outlets are being forced to take sides, and facing the grim possibility that even if they do, they have no power to affect the outcome. Their twin idols — objectivity and influence — are being exposed as illusions. That’s what has them so anxious about Donald Trump.
I think Roberts is right. Trump threatens to upend the Both Sides Do It order of the Beltway media universe, and while they’ve countenanced lies that resulted in ruinous wars, economic immiseration and catastrophic threats to public health for generations, the craven horde isn’t going to take an attack on their own conceit lying down.
The only question that remains is whether they still have enough juice to take Trump down for the crime of making them do their goddamn jobs. A few weeks ago, I would have said they do. Now, I’m not so sure.