Can we please stop blaming the media for Donald Trump?
You can’t fault Republicans for wanting to assign blame for the nomination of Donald Trump. Few events in American political history rise to the same level of sheer embarrassment.
I can sympathize with that impulse, but let’s make one thing clear: blaming the media is no longer going to cut it.
We’ve been hearing this all along: The media, through its constant coverage of an insurgent campaign, made legitimate a candidate that never should have been legitimate in the first place.
The argument was always absurd. After all, most of the coverage of Trump was negative, highlighting his inflammatory comments about Mexicans, Muslims, and women. And whether you like it or not, a reality TV star running for president is newsworthy, and it’s what people wanted to read about. Wouldn’t it be counter to the role of the press to ignore such a story?
But the last straw, for me, came in a column for The Daily Beast by Karol Markowicz. Entitled “How Paul Krugman Made Donald Trump Possible,” Markowicz argues that constant criticism of “good men” and “real candidates” like Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio makes people like Trump “normal” because voters have “heard all the hysteria from people like Krugman before.” In turn, when someone like Trump comes along, “you find you have [no vile language] left for the Donald Trumps of the world.”
First off, Markowicz must not read The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Talking Points Memo, or an incalcuable number of progressive news organizations that basically do nothing other than deliver their readers “vile language” about Trump. There’s plenty left, don’t worry.
But let’s translate what Markowicz is really saying. She’s not saying that criticism of the Romney-Cruz-Rubio-types is wrong––indeed, their presidencies would be disastrous for the country––but is instead saying that criticism of them should have been reserved, because progressives should have known that Republicans would not have the presence of mind to then discern the difference between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Huh?
Moreover, such a line of reasoning implies that GOP-voters need the liberal media to guide their thinking. But why would Republican voters––those who have collectively declared the liberal media Public Enemy #1––be so fundamentally affected (and apparently brainwashed) by writers like Paul Krugman? Have Republicans actually been the biggest fans of The New York Times all along? Doubtful.
But the most egregious claim is that it’s progressives, not conservatives, who have normalized the behaviors that led to Donald Trump. What a convenient revision of history. To the contrary, it’s the Republicans who normalized feeding off racial resentment for political gain and offering nothing to the working class voters they purport to represent. Those are the forces that led to the rise of Donald Trump, not Paul Krugman.
We’ll have years to sort this all out, but if the conclusion ends up being that the liberal media was responsible for America’s most vivid near-death experience, it will be hard to undo, because it will surely lead to yet another Donald Trump.