Motivated journalists should do us all a favor and ignore the cheap tactics of Trump’s campaign.
New York Times columnist David Brooks has a phenomenal column out this morning entitled “The Sexual Politics of 2016.” Brooks argues that Trump is not some mid-century chauvinist reborn; in fact, he is worse. The chivalric code that ruled the 1950s and ’60s did after all, at least prohibit men from attacking one another’s wives (a la Melania vs. Heidi tweet).
Instead, Trump’s new message to men is “You may be struggling, but at least you’re better than women, Mexicans and Muslims.” So we get his attacks on other men’s wives and girlfriends, in lieu of actual argument. We witness Trump’s apparent need to trade in one aging wife for a newer model every so often.
In short: Donald Trump represents a new, brutal vision of masculinity, one that includes asserting male dominance, and especially white male strength, over minorities and over women.
If, like one of his many lovely female mouth pieces featured on cable news, you are a woman willing to play by these rules (accept the nasty new order, whilst also vigorously denying that it exists) then you can achieve a sort of status.
But you will be tacitly accepting and approving of the new hierarchy, and you will therefore refuse any detour of orthodoxy. You will live by one mantra, and one mantra lone: Trump can do no wrong.
So, yes, Donald Trump is a menace to our nation, our society, and certainly the world. (For proof of his national security dangers, please read the full transcript of Trump’s recent interview with The Washington Post. This man is a blazing moron, which would perhaps be amusing, if he weren’t running for the most important position… in the world.)
And yet, and yet. I am sometimes more baffled, let down, and disgusted by the media.
Early on, just a few short months ago when the very first votes came rolling in, there were plenty of media pundits who marveled at Trump’s ability to “hijack the news cycle.”
And I just thought: you guys RUN the news cycle. He can’t hijack anything, unless you let him.
So here’s a question for you, voter: What’s more important?
- Donald Trump showing his utter dearth of policy knowledge on any topic during a two-hour debate, in which he looks like the uninformed, egomaniacal con artist that he is, OR
- Failing New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, saying that he gives his support to Donald Trump?
If you’re me, the answer is Number One, no question. Debates are an imperfect vehicle, and yet a necessary one. They show us what candidates know, what they’ve been willing to learn, where their policies and principles and personalities lie.
All of that matters, and it matters one hell of a lot more than some Jersey buddies snickering together about how they’re gonna slay some phantom “Establishment.”
You would never know, though, from the media coverage. Because what do these supposed hard-nosed journalists love more than their actual job? (You know, that all-important role a free press owns in bringing Americans things like, oh, say, the truth, about their elected leaders, big business, corrupt institutions, etc.)
Hard-nosed journalists LOVE ratings. They love those click, click, clicks. And nothing gets that attention quite like a good ‘ol fashioned bully being a big ‘ol bully jerk.
And look, I get it. Americans are responsible here too, no question. We could turn of the smut coverage and send a message to media outlets that we’re sick and tired of their Trump-love.
But over the weekend I watched The Big Short, Adam McKay’s Oscar-nominated film about the 2008 financial collapse. I looked over at my husband several times during the movie and said something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh, how are they doing this? How are they making the most boring topic imaginable into a fascinating, downright riveting, blockbuster?” (Full disclosure: the actual word “riveting” didn’t quite make it into my real-time film response).
Anyway, the point is this: if you can make banking a topic of intrigue (banking!), then worthy and motivated journalists could make the extraordinary and ongoing real crises our country is facing – debt, stagnant wages, job loss, terrorism, student loans, a failed VA, etc. – into the much more newsworthy – and interesting! – story than any freak sideshow “hijack” Donald Trump is capable of dreaming up.
Photo: Flickr/Josh Hallet