— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) September 6, 2016
TRUMP: Exposure was their reward! Arrogant dancing fucks.
CHRISTIE: They did work for you. Pay 'em.
TRUMP: I don't wanna set that precedent
— Owen Ellickson (@onlxn) September 6, 2016
NYMag‘s Jon Chait, for all his flaws, is the perfect person to rebut Frank Bruni. For your enjoyment, “Did Trump Happen Because Liberals Are Too Mean?“:
The leading theory of why Republicans nominated Donald Trump is that Republican voters like Donald Trump. This theory has the virtues of simplicity and truth, but the handicaps of being boring and quite rude to nearly half the electorate. And so an alternate theory has circulated that is more complex and also more flattering to Republican voters. This theory holds that Trump prevailed at least in part because liberals blew their credibility by hyperbolically denouncing previous Republican presidential candidates, thereby conditioning Republicans to ignore the warnings when Trump came along. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni gives this theory credence in a column headlined “Crying Wolf, Then Confronting Trump.”
Bruni argues that liberals have spent years whipping up unjustified hysteria against a series of Republican nominees who deserved far better. His examples underwhelm. “McCain was described, in some quarters, as a combustible hothead who couldn’t be allowed anywhere near the nuclear codes.” You see? Liberals said the same thing about McCain that they now say about Trump! Except, if you click on the hyperlinks, Bruni’s two examples turn out to be a random diarist at Daily Kos, a sort of open-mic blog, and Infowars, a far-right website that now supports Trump…
The cry-wolf theory has an obvious allure for anti-Trump conservatives who wish to absolve their movement of any responsibility for their repellent nominee. The attraction to Bruni is more fascinating. His account of Republican nominees victimized by undue criticism abruptly stops in 2008. The Republican candidate who would come next in his historical chronology, but whom Bruni omits from his narrative, is George W. Bush. Bruni covered Bush as a campaign reporter for the Times in 2000. His legendarily soft coverage struck exactly the tone Bush preferred. It ignored policy and presented the campaign as a personality contest between a goofy but lovable regular guy and a stiff, unlikable jerk…
In a 2001 campaign memoir, Bruni half-sheepishly confessed that Bush had charmed him… Yet his memoir explains this as the by-product of Bush’s irresistible charm and comes nowhere close to grappling with what turned out to be one of the most important and consequential failures in the history of American journalism. That Bruni now accuses other journalists of crying wolf about Republican nominees is nothing short of astonishing. Bruni is like the boy who was in charge of spotting wolves, and assured everybody that it was just a bunch of adorable little puppies, and then, after the “puppies” turned out to be wolves that devoured all of the livestock and several children, wrote a book saying maybe he should have been a tad more vigilant but, hey, you gotta admit, those were some cute puppies…