Your pathological misinterpretation of Trump
It seems people can’t go five minutes without sharing their worst possible interpretation of Donald J. Trump. Here are two examples from the last few days:
- To the applause of the debate audience, Trump quipped that if he were the president, Hillary would be in jail. Immediately, Twitter was ablaze with moral outrage, likening the statement to the kind of political imprisonment we see post-election in third-world dictatorships. We don’t know exactly what Trump meant, but which is more likely: That he was advertising future intent to flip the table on the US the justice system? Or that he believes he would have — in the past-tense, hypothetical scenario posed by Clinton — corrected any one in series of miscarriages of justice related to Clinton’s possible war crimes, mishandling of classified information, coverup of Bill Clinton’s sexual assault and rape scandals, destruction of evidence during a federal investigation, and many other alleged misdeeds?
- Last Friday, when Political strategists released a recording they’d been sitting on for years of Trump making offensive remarks in private, the mainstream media, both major political parties, and many citizens assumed the worst: That Trump’s remarks implied a sinister endorsement of sexual assault of females in situations of non-consent. We don’t know what Trump had in mind years ago, but again, should we believe that he was describing mildly surprising truths or exaggerations about groupies’ lack of sexual boundaries with famous people, or that he was confessing to a series of sexual crimes to an Access Hollywood correspondent?
Alternative and right-wing media outlets have committed the same toward Hillary Clinton, but I’ve only observed this at a roughly 9:1 ratio, despite consuming much more media from such outlets.
As someone who has been extremely skeptical of the mainstream media for about a decade, I celebrate the fact that Americans’ trust in this institution is at an all-time low. Many of us are moving on to new methods of gathering and evaluating information. You might even self-identify as one of these new skeptics. Here’s the thing: If you assume the worst the moment a person cursed by the mainstream media opens his mouth, you’re still caught in their spell. It’s time for you to shake it off and join us in earnest.
I am not endorsing any political candidate. I am concerned for the future of democracy and civilization in a world that cannot think straight, captured by the tangled web of a powerful few.