To cover their sensitive asses, they're supplementing their contrived agony with an exercise in soul-searching. Their self-defined insular dilemma is this: how do they treat Donald Trump on the day after he loses and on all the post-loser days and months to come? Do they continue covering him, or do they just ignore him?
Frank Bruni of the New York Times has nobly volunteered his own therapeutic services to his peers. As a pundit who has made Trump the centerpiece of his jeering, shocked and outraged biweekly columns for well over a year now, he now strokes his chin and ponders how on God's lush green earth he and his colleagues can rid themselves of their Trump addiction in a proper and seemly manner:
We need rules for quitting him, guidelines for the circumstances in which coverage of him is legitimate and those in which it isn’t. That distinction is all the more crucial because he seems poised to undermine important institutions and the democratic process itself. We can lend that effort more credibility or less by paying rapt attention to it or not.
He’s already teeing up a stunt: his possible rejection of the election returns. How much should we indulge this tantrum, and for how long? If Trump actually marshals the necessary strategy and resources for legal challenges in states where the results allow them — if he hires lawyers and files paperwork — that’s an indisputably newsworthy development. If he simply rages? That’s not.But like many an addict before him, Bruni ditches rehab in favor of scapegoating his co-dependent enablers: the rapt audience. Were it not for the hordes of shallow, celebrity-obsessed consumers of journalistic content, pundits like Bruni never would have been tempted to indulge themselves with the Trump drug.
The greatest power resides with the audience — which bears much of the culpability, too. Never before have news organizations been able to judge so quickly and accurately what our consumers respond to. If those consumers hadn’t demonstrated such intense interest in Trump, we probably wouldn’t have, either. And if they turn from Trump, they can be sure that most of us will, too, without much equivocation or delay.You really have to hand it to Bruni. First, he foists upon the electorate the magical ability to have learned about Trump by pure osmosis, without the aid of mass media. And at the same time he demotes them from citizens to consumers. Maybe, without their knowledge, they learned about Trump from searching for bargains in Walmart. Who knew that millions of people had so much power? And the mouth-breathers then had the nerve to hook the hapless mass media with their disgusting addicting drugs. Shame on them! They should have flushed Bruni's stash down the toilet at the same time they flushed their own.
But Bruni vows to show "courage and restraint" in his Trump coverage in the future. The goal of post-Trump punditry is to improve upon style, not substance. He concludes it's all about "the tone."
My published response:
It's not whether the media can overcome the Trump habit, it's whether they're willing to explore and help wipe out the root causes of Trumpism.Thanks to the WikiLeaks theft/dump of Clinton campaign director John Podesta's emails, we've learned that the Democratic Party, with the aid of the vulnerable media, deliberately set Trump up as a "Pied Piper candidate" to destroy more threatening and substantive run-of-the-mill GOP sadists like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. The objective was to pit the unpopular Hillary Clinton against an opponent so scary that even the Republican establishment would disown him and flee to her own outstretched arms. There was a method to the madness of holding interminable staged "debates" in sporting arenas, with Trump the last showman standing.
Don't just quit cold turkey. Because where he came from, there's plenty more cheap demagogic crack just waiting to be smoked. He may disappear, but the rage and precarity he feeds upon will not.
If Hillary is elected as expected, and especially if Democrats win back the Senate and many House seats, the extreme centrists of the media-political complex must also resist the temptation to sniff any more of that lethal GOP glue in the name of "bipartisanship."
On your road back to health, stop treating Ayn Rand fanboy Paul Ryan with such ridiculous respect. His ability to string together sentences into complete paragraphs shouldn't be confused with governing in the public interest. So quit smoking his high-grade hashish, too.
Now that you're getting sober, demand single payer health care. Who knows? Starting from such a "radical" position might end up getting us the public option as a compromise, rather than as a weak negotiating starting point designed to fail from the get-go.
Other antidotes to Trumpism: a guaranteed living wage and jobs for the millions who are justifiably outraged by the "free trade" deals and outsourcing and privatization scams that have destroyed lives and livelihoods. Scrap the cap on FICA taxes, and make Social Security solvent into perpetuity.
And overturn Citizens United.
Help America breathe again.
From a DNC strategy document dated April 7, 2015:
The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream Republican Party. Pied Piper candidates include, but aren’t limited to:The press was more than happy to comply. They gave Trump more than a billion dollars' worth of free air time and newspaper website space, and in his turn Trump brought them about an equal amount of rewards in terms of viewership, readership and ad revenue. He brought them the drug of clicks and eyeballs.
We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously.
The only trouble is, the Trump profiteers will now have to pay the Piper. The candidate fulfilled his part of the bargain by ridding the field of the more dangerous rats. But in the process, he has captured the imagination of multitudes of the aggrieved in numbers that the Establishment never saw coming.
The Pied Piper legend itself is based on an actual event that transpired in medieval Germany, possibly during an outbreak of the Plague. The town fathers of Hamelin refused to pay him for his services, and he obliged by "throwing a tantrum" and leading all the children to an undisclosed location, far away from elite establishment control.
Trump even made an early appearance in Victorian poet Robert Browning's version of the tale:
“Come in!”--the Mayor cried, looking bigger: And in did come the strangest figure! His queer long coat from heel to head Was half of yellow and half of red And he himself was tall and thin, With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin, And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin, No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin, But lips where smiles went out and in-- There was no guessing his kith and kin! And nobody could enough admire The tall man and his quaint attire. Quoth one: “It’s as if my great-grandsire, Starting up at the Trump of Doom’s tone, Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!”
Speaking of the WikiLeaks, I was 'umbly proud to discover that an unflattering 2014 article I wrote about Ayn Rand fanboy Paul Ryan is buried deep within the purloined Podesta email cache. Apparently, Hillary's campaign manager is a subscriber to Truthout, which had reprinted my piece. Whether Podesta actually read it, or whether Vladimir Putin actually read it before he allegedly stole it for Julian Assange and Donald Trump, is still as much a mystery as the whereabouts of the Pied Piper's abductees.