At some point after I hit “send” on this article, I’m going to — let’s not say “hate” — be pretty disappointed in myself. Not because of some offhand comment that slipped through my usually airtight filter due to looming deadlines, but because of the whole thesis behind today’s column. I will look back on this tomorrow, or next week, or in 50 years, and kick myself for rhetorical laziness.
That said, if I’m going to flail, I’m going to flail forward. Ready? Okay, here we go.
The media is bungling this election.
Let me preface the bulk of this by reasserting that there is no way in hell Donald Trump becomes president. He is every slice of liposuctioned ass-fat carved from the nation’s collective tanning booth patrons, bonded together and given sentience. Cancer is trying to find a way to eradicate Donald Trump. If a cold sore could talk, it would have the voice of William F. Buckley compared to Trump.
But Donald Trump should have never been allowed to get this far. The second he emerged from the elevator at Trump Tower in the spring of last year and began to vomit insanity and racism in equal proportions, the media, his own party and we — we are culpable, too — should have either collectively ignored him or, rhetorically yet conclusively, stomped a mud hole in him.
But the media — that great go-to boogeyman of the Republican Party — just could not help itself. Faced with an election that already had several foregone conclusions (that it would ultimately come down to another Clinton-Bush race, that Clinton was probably going to win, etc.) they needed an angle. They needed entertainment value. And so they began pointing a camera and microphone at Trump whenever they could, as he could be relied upon to spout some outlandish nonsense that they could use to feed the news cycle for a good 24 hours.
In one respect, this is within the confines of the media’s stated role: impartial observers and relayers of information. To that end, for reasons stated above, Trump was a godsend: just point a mic at him and call it a day. It was easy — too easy. So easy, in fact, that every mainstream media outlet came to rely on Trump to dominate their coverage and make their jobs easier. He was, and still is, a ratings boon.
In another respect, however, the media has failed us. It is, in addition to being a conduit for information and occurrences, responsible for being… well, responsible. And it has faltered gloriously.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll eschew commenting on think pieces, pundits and professional commentators; they’ve forged their own chains, their own burdens, by discussing Donald Trump as if he’s an actual politician and not a golem made of steak drippings and demon farts and he and his followers are to be taken seriously, even coddled, and not stomped out with the quickness as if they were an errant ember popped from the fireplace onto a living room carpet.
What I’m talking about is time and space: camera time, air-time, precious space in print media, etc. Turning a lens on Donald Trump — and, in turn, enabling a frighteningly large and vocal minority of conservative voters that actually believe the kind of BS Trump is using to get this kind of attention — gave him a forum, helping to legitimize him and his bid in the eyes of the American populace. The media decided that we should pay attention, and so we did.
Again: we, too, are culpable.
Instead of stomping out that ember, we and the media have blown on it, coaxed it to a glow, basked in its heat while the house burns down around us.