The Reverend


I recommend this piece on the "normalization" of Donald Trump by U.S. media.



Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt, in her pathbreaking book, Beyond Belief, tells a ....story of how the international press normalized Hitler after he came to power and ignored his excesses. Many American press accounts exculpated Hitler for the early episodes of Nazi violence and attributed it to “overenthusiastic and poorly disciplined followers.” Editorialized one Ohio paper, “Chancellor Hitler, personally, is committed to a policy of moderation.” The Los Angeles Times agreed, opining that once he “becomes more used to his job” – the pivot – he would become less “theatrical.”



Remember: This was Adolf Hitler. In Germany. How do you think the American press will treat Trump if he closes in on the presidency?



That's the question, isn't it?



The print media at least are already flummoxed not only whether to continue attacking Trump, but also whether to call out his supporters for their antipathy to American tolerance. If anyone wielding power is normalized, large segments of the population from whom that power emanates are always normalized, too. But a media that refuses to condemn these values — and the people who espouse them — is a media that has forfeited its decency as well as its role in a democracy.



This is obviously not a typical election. Trump is obviously not a typical candidate. And, as Andrew Sullivan wrote, the election already has revealed the “fragility of our way of life and the threat late-stage democracy is beginning to pose to itself.” The decent and sane among us want to think a Trump presidency won’t happen. We think that even if it does, something, somewhere, will circumscribe the threat. We can be sanguine. We can let the media normalize Trump and think of him as another presidential contender. We can do that. But that is how fascism takes hold — not because it strong-arms its way to power, but because it seems like a political option, and not the end of politics as we know it.



The only acceptable response to Trump and his supporters by "news" media is total and unequivocal condemnation. Not because Trump doesn't have the right to run for the presidency...and not because citizens don't have the right to vote for him.....but because Trump and his followers reject "American tolerance."



Main media, because "news" has become just another consumer good, is currently treating a Hillary-Trump contest as a contest between, like, say, choosing Coke or Pepsi. Some prefer one, some prefer the other....but either choice is the consumer's to make. Who are the media to tell consumers which cola to buy, right? Why should media members tell consumers which cola NOT to buy and consume? Let the consumers decide, right?



But what if the choice was between Coke and another cola documented to be poisonous? Should main media remain neutral, refusing to inform consumers that one choice might kill them? Should "news" media simply refuse to warn consumers of the poisonous product for fear of alienating those customers away from their "news" products? Because so many consumers already have made the poisonous cola their cola of choice, should media just accept that choice and stop issuing warnings about the danger?



That's where U.S. media are at this very moment. At this very juncture "news" producers are wrestling with how to cover the poisonous GOP candidate. On one hand, they see huge profit and bonus potential if they normalize, respect and honor the poisonous-to-the-nation choice of Trump. On the other hand, "news" producers KNOW Trump is poisonous and would be bigly deleterious to America if elected.



I explained to my nephew yesterday that Hillary is still the odds-on favorite to win the White House....BUT....I also explained that should corporate media go all-in supporting the Donald while ruthlessly savaging Hillary over the next 5 months....all bets are off.



Trump is not simply another "political option", he is poisonous for America. His candidacy is not just another consumer choice but "the end of politics as we know it." Trump is not being coy about what he intends to do.....he's shouting it proudly. His version of making America great would destroy the few remaining remnants which identify us as a democracy where all men are created equally.



U.S. for-profit media is at a crossroads in the election cycle. They can respect and honor their duty to the American people by informing that, yes, Trump may be the choice of many, but his presidency would be poisonous for the USA...and point endlessly to Trump's proclamations that prove he is poisonous.



Or, media can continue to treat Trump as just another ho-hum choice, normalize his fascist remarks and tendencies, refuse in their "neutrality" to detail how deadly a Trump presidency would be for America and pretend that there's nothing dangerous, nothing at all, about Trump's candidacy. Just another candidate in another presidential contest.



I'm extremely cynical, so I think I know which tact main media will take. But it still is not too late for "journalists" and cable news producers to do the right thing here. After all, whether they think it is or not, it is actually media's job to warn consumers that the bottle of cola they are about to purchase will, most likely, kill them.