Thursday, January 31, 2019


In today's New York Times, David Leonhardt's trenchant observation of the media's bias toward centrism -- in the cause of appearing balanced and impartial -- hits the mark.  However, I wonder if he or Margaret Sullivan (also a great article, in the Washington Post) would blame centrism for  the mainstream media's surreal ability to roll over Presidential insanity -- and I mean that; literal insanity -- as if it's just some sort of foible, akin to Uncle Ed's behavior at Thanksgiving or Dad's shouting at the TV news.   I, for one, am shocked by what they don't say.  Their meek acceptance often makes me wonder if I'm losing my mind.  You?

I say all this because less than four hours ago, the President of the United Sates held an impromptu press conference during which he rambled incoherently, jumped from one subject to the other, and contradicted himself within actual sentences.  This isn't new, but is that an excuse anymore?  He told us that the wall is being built -- right now!  As we speak! -- but he might still shut down the government if he doesn't get funding for.... his wall.  Which is being built.  As we speak.  Right now.

As he went on, shuttling from boasting how he had has made the USA number one economically (as it has been since World War Two) and "solved the military", and done more than any other President ever, I was confident.   I thought: "This is it.  As soon as this is over, the commentators are going to come on and say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, clearly we have a national emergency.  The President has revealed he is a complete and utter jabbering idiot, and the 25th Amendment will likely be invoked in the next hour.'"

But I was wrong.  Again.  They came on, but they said their usual, "Okay, a lot of things to unpack there, we're going to White House Bob, our Washington correspondent; Bob, the President talked a lot about national security, are we right to assume..."

That was it.  They just took it in stride.

I sat dumbfounded.  The Commander-in-Chief rolled out lie after lie, contradiction after contradiction, and no one was going to call him on it.  They did say, "The President said the wall was being built and that's simply false," but pointing out a lie is not the same as accepting the liar.  Whether they admit it or not, the mainstream American media seems to have accepted the liar.

Things have never worked out well when they've gone down this road (Vietnam; WMD's), but I'm convinced this is the worst case, because this is the President being clearly unfit to be President.  A crazed, off-the-chain fantasist.

To be clear, I'm not hinting malice in Trump's behavior.  In fact,  I believe he believes the wall is being built at the moment he says it, just as I believe he believes he's 'fixed' the military.  I believe he believes he's the most productive President who has ever lived as well as that he has saved the world from nuclear Armageddon.

And that's the point. He believes it.  So he is unfit.    And the press is so obsessed with trying to appear professional that they -- our surrogates -- aren't calling it as it should be called.

History has not dealt well -- and distance will make this judgment even harsher -- with how mainstream journalists handled the fallout of 9/11 and America's entry into two never-ending wars that have killed hundreds of thousand.  But I suspect history will be even harsher when it examines the lackluster and lapdog response to a demonstrably unstable and unfit chief executive.

I'm tired of hearing the smooth commentators as well as the mainstream historians who cheerily tell us the country has weathered worse and will be fine (both untrue and pure Pollyanna).

Why does the press become so easily distracted from this key issue?  They did jumping jacks and shouted with euphoria that Nancy Pelosi made Trump "cave" and she showed him there's a new sheriff in town and all that other bogus tough talk, but they're failing in their most fundamental job, which is to report to us that we are facing a mortal threat to our nationhood and maybe, God forbid, our actual existence.

This picture of sort of normality -- and by that I mean anything short of 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a crisis here' -- is a gutless abdication.

Leonhardt called it earlier and his piece is better, but he wrote before Trump held his cuckoo for cocoa puffs press conference.  Since even then, Trump has tweeted that his intelligence chiefs were misquoted in a live broadcast we all watched.

Mass madness, folks.

The question isn't when are we going to get fed up with Trump, the question is when are we going to become fed up with ourselves ... for tolerating Trump.  And we need the national press to help us get to that point.

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