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“Glad You Finally Noticed”: Latinos Are The One Group That Was Onto Donald Trump From The Start

A few weeks ago, during an appearance on CNN, a journalist who works for a conservative website said what many other political observers have been thinking: “Donald Trump is just not funny anymore.”

That is the popular meme that has been circulating throughout the media and the chattering class of pundits, analysts, and anyone else with an opinion and a burning desire to share it. I’ve heard it multiple times in the last several weeks, this idea that the Republican frontrunner is no longer as amusing and entertaining as he was a few months ago but has morphed into something divisive, demagogic, and dangerous.

I don’t know what planet these folks live on. But you can be sure that, wherever it is, there are no Latinos on it.

There are however scores of Latinos in the United States who—because of Trump’s boorish knack for insulting Mexico and Mexican immigrants, literally from the moment that he leapt off the starting blocks and announced his candidacy on June 16 — would say that Trump was never much fun to begin with.

We sure didn’t take much joy from his nativist swipes at Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail and crass insinuations that Bush is a moderate on immigration because his wife, Columba, was born in Mexico before coming to the United States legally and becoming a U.S. citizen. And while we would agree that the real estate mogul can be described as divisive, demagogic, and dangerous, many of us are wondering what took the rest of America so long to figure this out.

For much of the nation’s largest minority—the estimated 54 million people who make up the U.S. Latino population, less than 20 percent of whom have a favorable opinion of Trump, according to polls—the billionaire blowhard didn’t just become the GOP’s problem child overnight. The truth is that he has been that way since the moment he claimed, without a sliver of evidence to back it up, that Mexico was “sending” the United States its worst people—including rapists, murderers, and other criminals.

The media seem to have missed this part of the story. They know that Latinos don’t like Trump, but they don’t really understand just how deep this animosity goes or how long it is likely to last. They must think that Latinos will just eventually get over Trump’s tirades, which only illustrates how little they know about Latinos. When we hold grudges, we think in terms of centuries. So, in all likelihood, Latinos are going to be hating on Trump for a long time.

Let’s start at the beginning. For the first five months of his presidential bid, the real estate mogul was a novelty. This quality made him attractive to Republican primary voters and irresistible to a broadcast media that was starved for ratings and ad revenue. With the subtlety of an air strike, Trump said what was on his mind, without a filter, consultants, or handlers. He didn’t use focus groups or rely on polling before making major pronouncements or suggesting radical shifts in policy. He ripped into both political parties with equal enthusiasm, and called out opponents by name. If there is some unwritten code of professional courtesy that keeps politicians from telling us how they really feel about one another, The Donald didn’t get a copy. In just about every way you could imagine, he was refreshing and even—and dare we say it—fun.

In fact, as if to emphasize that point, the Huffington Post initially featured stories about Trump not in its “Politics” but in that portion of the site dedicated to “Entertainment.” It’s also worth noting that, with few exceptions, and with some early attempts to poke at Trump by repeating and amplifying some of his controversial remarks, the Fourth Estate has, for the most part, been on friendly terms with the presidential hopeful.

I remember the exact moment when this epiphany hit me. It was November 12, and while on the road for a speech I was watching CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” Trump was the guest, and the topic was immigration. The dialogue between host and guest was cordial, and Burnett—who was formerly a financial news reporter—kept referring to Trump by his first name. It was Donald this, and Donald that.

I have a tough time imaging Burnett or, for that matter, anyone else in the media casually referring to other 2016 presidential candidates as “Jeb” or “Hillary.”

Of course, Jeb and Hillary have proper honorific titles that Trump lacks, I know that. But how about going with: “Mr. Trump?” There’s a weird chumminess to it. For the New York media, much of their familiarity with Trump comes from the fact the real estate tycoon is, shall we say, “from the neighborhood.” His spectacular Manhattan penthouse atop Trump Tower is just a short limousine ride from some of the skyscrapers that house the major television networks.

Besides, it certainly didn’t hurt that—even for a Republican—Trump is considered by many to be a moderate on social issues. He also has a long history of contributing to and voting for Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.

Whatever the reason, Trump spent the first five months of his presidential campaign gliding along on a magic carpet of friendly media coverage. He took care of the media, by being available at a moment’s notice when they called and by consistantly delivering high ratings. And the media took care of The Donald by giving him tens of millions dollars in earned media and handling him with kid gloves.

But then came the sixth month—December—when, after being atop dozens of polls for weeks on end, The Donald suddenly became less fun and more scary.

The tipping point came on the fateful day of Dec. 7. That’s when Trump shocked the country by calling for a temporary freeze on visas for Muslims seeking to enter the United States.

Just a few days earlier, a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, carried out by supporters of the Islamic State, had killed 14 people and wounded 22 others. Worried that elements of the U.S. Muslim community might be in cahoots with terrorists, Trump urged a moratorium on Muslims traveling to the United States until “our leaders figure out what the hell is going on.”

That’s a good question: What the hell is going on? Many Americans really want to know the answer to that question. And they agree with Trump that the Obama administration doesn’t have a clue about the enemy or how to fight it. And, in the absence of any serious and meaningful policy from the White House, Trump has filled the vacuum. In fact, according to the polls, a majority of people agree with the candidate’s proposed moratorium on Muslims getting visas. What sounds controversial to some strikes others as common sense.

But the media and the chattering class aren’t buying any of it. The proposal rubbed them the wrong way. They pounced on Trump immediately. Some insisted that he is a bigot. Others accused him of stoking fears and resorting to demagoguery in order to pick on people who don’t have a voice.

To which, Latinos can only wince and respond: “Gee, you don’t say?”

 

By: Ruben Navarrette, Jr., The Daily Beast, January 4, 2016

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Latinos, Mainstream Media | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”: The Gullibility Of American Television Audiences

Is NBC really responsible for the rise of Donald Trump?

On a recent edition of the progressive radio program Ring of Fire, hosts Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discussed the mainstream media’s role in fueling the momentum of the Trump campaign, and strongly suggested that NBC effectively laid the foundation for Trump potentially becoming the 45th president (relevant discussion begins at 5:58): https://youtu.be/-D35FkhmQVA

I’ve never watched an episode of The Apprentice, and I’ve never quite understood the appeal of that program, or reality television in general. (Don’t even get me started on President Obama and Running Wild with Bear Grylls, despite the climate-consciousness of the December 17 edition of that program.) I’m not quite sure that NBC can be blamed for, frankly, the gullibility of American television audiences. After all, those who wasted hours watching Trump’s antics on The Apprentice could have been reading books instead.

It’s too easy to blame NBC for the rise of Trump, just as it’s too easy to blame Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. There has always been an element of American culture that embraces the low, the vulgar, the putrid and the perverse. Donald Trump and NBC did not create that culture; it was a pre-existing condition in America’s body.

That condition could be fatal. You have to think that, love for his brother notwithstanding, George W. Bush is secretly rooting for Trump to win the Republican nomination and the presidency, since four to eight years of a Trump administration could actually make the Bush years look better by comparison. Sure, future historians will say, Bush lied America into war, abandoned American citizens in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, tortured people, attacked LGBT civil rights and wrecked the United States economy, but at least he didn’t inspire de facto pogroms against Mexicans and Muslims!

It’s creepy to think about it, no? Reagan’s recklessness almost made Nixon look OK relative to Bonzo’s co-star. Dubya’s destructiveness almost inspired nostalgia for the “Morning in America” era. Now, if Trump becomes the 45th President, people will start forgetting the 43rd President’s flaws. Trump would, on some level, have the power to rewrite history.

It is often said that every President becomes a reflection of the era in which he governed. When we think back to the Nixon era, our minds recall the cynicism of the age; when we remember the Reagan era, we think of the “Greed Is Good” ethos; when we think of the Bush years, we recall a time of constant fear. Let’s say Trump serves one or two terms as President. What will we think of when we remember those years?

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 27, 2015

December 28, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Mainstream Media, NBC, Reality Television | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close”: Guess. Nope. Guess Again. And Again…

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” How many times have you heard that one? Sure, we heard Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade say it, but to me, that was simply part of the Fox News plan to make their viewers dumber, as we saw again this past weekend when its terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson was caught fabricating the story that Birmingham, England, is closed to non-Muslims. But more alarmingly, even some reasonable people have uttered this statement.

And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists?

Obviously, there are people who sincerely view themselves as Muslims who have committed horrible acts in the name of Islam. We Muslims can make the case that their actions are not based on any part of the faith but on their own political agenda. But they are Muslims, no denying that.

However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.

Now, it’s not your fault if you aren’t aware of that fact. You can blame the media. (Yes, Sarah Palin and I actually agree on one thing: The mainstream media sucks.)

So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.

As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.

We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.

Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts fill the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.

Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

But our media simply do not cover the non-Muslim terror attacks with same gusto. Why? It’s a business decision. Stories about scary “others” play better. It’s a story that can simply be framed as good versus evil with Americans being the good guy and the brown Muslim as the bad.

Honestly, when is the last time we heard the media refer to those who attack abortion clinics as “Christian terrorists,” even though these attacks occur at one of every five reproductive health-care facilities? That doesn’t sell as well. After all we are a so-called Christian nation, so that would require us to look at the enemy within our country, and that makes many uncomfortable. Or worse, it makes them change the channel.

That’s the same reason we don’t see many stories about how to reduce the 30 Americans killed each day by gun violence or the three women per day killed by domestic violence. But the media will have on expert after expert discussing how can we stop these scary brown Muslims from killing any more Americans despite the fact you actually have a better chance of being killed by a refrigerator falling on you.

Look, this article is not going to change the media’s business model. But what I hope it does is cause some to realize that not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, they are actually a very small percent of those that are. Now, I’m not saying to ignore the dangers posed by Islamic radicals. I’m just saying look out for those refrigerators.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, December 25, 2015

December 27, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Muslims, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Assessing Strength And Weakness”: When The Only Card You Have To Play Is Fear

On a couple of occasions, President Obama has challenged the media’s assumption that Russian President Putin was acting from a position of strength. The first was in response to a question from Jonathan Karl at a news conference in The Hague not long after Russia’s incursion into Crimea.

Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors not out of strength, but out of weakness. Ukraine has been a country in which Russia had enormous influence for decades, since the breakup of the Soviet Union. And we have considerable influence on our neighbors. We generally don’t need to invade them in order to have a strong, cooperative relationship with them. The fact that Russia felt compelled to go in militarily and lay bare these violations of international law indicates less influence, not more.

The President basically made the same point when Steve Kroft tried to insinuate that Putin’s involvement in Syria was a challenge to his leadership.

When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally…

Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership.

With those examples in mind, I think that Peter Beinart has done a good job of describing the difference between how Republican presidential candidates and President Obama assess the threat from ISIS.

Because the GOP candidates see violent jihadism as a powerful, seductive ideology, they think that many American Muslims are at risk of becoming terrorists, and thus that the United States must monitor them more aggressively. Because Obama sees violent jihadism as ideologically weak and unattractive, he thinks that few American Muslims will embrace it unless the United States makes them feel like enemies in their own country—which is exactly what Donald Trump risks doing.

Obama…believes that powerful, structural forces will lead liberal democracies to triumph over their foes—so long as these democracies don’t do stupid things like persecuting Muslims at home or invading Muslim lands abroad. His Republican opponents, by contrast, believe that powerful and sinister enemies are overwhelming America, either overseas (the Rubio version) or domestically (the Trump version).

All the chest-thumping coming from Republicans is based on an elevated assumption of the real threat posed by ISIS. But that’s what happens when the only card you have to play is fear. Behind all the bravado, their message makes America look weak and easily intimidated. President Obama isn’t buying into that for a minute.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 7, 2015

December 9, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Mainstream Media, Russia, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“An Ugly Troubling Trend”: The Planned Parenthood Attack And How Homegrown Terrorism Gets Downplayed By The Press

The deadly gun rampage that erupted inside a Planned Parenthood health care facility in Colorado Springs last week capped a disturbing week of political violence and intimidation from the far right:

*November 22: Armed vigilantes who gathered outside a Dallas area mosque announced they were going to publish the home addresses of local Muslim worshipers and label them “Muslim sympathizers.”

*November 23: A man was arrested for leaving a phony explosive device at a Falls Church, Virginia mosque. The suspect allegedly also threw two smoke bombs and a Molotov cocktail toward the building.

*November 23: A Black Lives Matter protester was kicked, punched and choked at a Donald Trump rally.

*November 24: Four men have been arrested in connection with a shooting at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. Three of the suspects reportedly were fascinated “with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups.”

If we scan back a few more weeks we see an equally troubling trend:

*November 11: “Two men described by authorities as white supremacists have been charged in Virginia with trying to illegally buy weapons and explosives to use in attacks on synagogues and black churches.”

*October 12: Georgia state prosecutors indicted 15 members of a Confederate flag-waving convoy on terroristic threats after they menaced a black family celebrating a birthday party.

Meanwhile, recent months have seen a plague of terror attacks targeting Planned Parenthood facilities, to the point where the FBI in September warned that “it is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities.” (The current campaign of terror and harassment is not a new one.)

As CBS reported [emphasis added]:

At that time, there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia. In one incident, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard’s car and set the vehicle on fire.

According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado, in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility there, causing a fire.

So, in just the last three months we’ve seen a car set on fire, Molotov cocktails allegedly thrown at a house of worship, terroristic threats leveled against a family, liberal protesters gunned down by radicals, and a medical facility stormed by an anti-abortion/anti-government gunman who killed civilians and a policeman.

What portrait do those events paint in your mind? And is that portrait of radical homegrown violence and terrorism the one you’ve seen conveyed in the press following the Colorado Springs terror attack?

It’s not the one I’ve been seeing.

Media Matters for years has documented how Fox News in particular has used a blinding double standard in terms of casting wide, cultural and religious aspersions when covering terror attacks involving Muslim attackers, versus how it deals with homegrown political violence from the right. (It was Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade who once confidently declared, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”)

But the problem extends beyond Fox News. The larger conservative media echo chamber seems to have convinced the mainstream press that domestic terrorism, often carried out by white American men, somehow doesn’t pose the same threat and doesn’t need to be treated as a lurking menace the way ISIS terrorism does. (That heightened sense of panic also fanned the right-wing media hysteria about Syrian refugees.)

In other words, the endless dots of domestic terrorism in the U.S. simply are not connected to portray a larger danger to our safety.

The simple truth is that from neo-Nazi killers, to a rash of women’s health clinic bombings and attacks, as well as assaults on law enforcement from anti-government extremists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to unfold regularly in the United States.

It’s a well-established fact that since September 11, 2001, “nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.” Yet those kind of deadly, homegrown attacks are often treated as isolated incidents that are mostly devoid of politics.

There were many telltale signs that differentiated the Planned Parenthood coverage of homegrown terrorism and how the press has covered previous Jihadist attacks.

Thinking back to around-the-clock coverage produced in the wake of the terrorist massacre in Paris this month, it was impossible to miss the differences in tone and content.

There appeared to be very little media hand wringing about why law enforcement has trouble tracking homegrown terrorists, how attackers are able to plan their assaults without detection, if their churches or houses of worship need to be more closely monitored, and whether Christian religious leaders are doing enough to speak out against radicals who may be in their midst.

Note that just hours after the Planned Parenthood gunman gave himself up, CNN dropped its shooting coverage in order to air The Sixties at 10 p.m, while the next day’s Wall Street Journal did not include any articles about the deadly assault on its front page. (The shooting was listed among World-Wide news on the front page, but the full article ran inside the paper.)

By contrast, imagine if a Muslim gunman had opened fire at an American shopping center on Black Friday, shot eleven people and killed three, including a police officer. Do you think CNN would have broken away from programming just hours after the shooter was apprehended in order to air a pop culture documentary? Or that the Wall Street Journal would have played that story on A3 the next day?

Also note that on the broadcast network Sunday morning talk shows two days after the Planned Parenthood attack, eleven current Republican elected officials or presidential candidates were hosted on the programs, compared to just one Democrat. That, despite the fact the Democratic Party has been outspoken in its defense of Planned Parenthood, while the GOP has worked hard to demonize it.

On CBS’ Face the Nation, where no Democratic politicians appeared, host John Dickerson asked just two questions about the Planned Parenthood terror attack during the 60-minute program. (By contrast, Dickerson devoted an entire segment to a panel discussion about presidential books.)

Following Colorado Springs, there was also a steady media focus on the shooter’s possibly unstable mental state, with the suggestion being that that held the key to understanding the killings. But I don’t remember rounds of discussion about the mental state of Islamic terrorists following the Paris massacre. From the media’s perspective, religious extremism provided the entire motivation. That’s certainly possible, but why the separate standard for American bouts of terror?

We’re long past the point where homegrown terrorism should be called what it is, and for the press to connect the dots that join together a large and menacing threat at home.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America; The Blog, The Huffington Post, November 30, 2015

December 2, 2015 Posted by | Domestic Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Planned Parenthood, White Supremacists | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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