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“Will ‘Trumpism’ Take Over The GOP?”: Trump Is Exploiting A Rich And Very Real Vein Of Public Sentiment

In Thursday night’s 12th GOP candidate debate, somebody pulled a plug and the candidates turned in an amazingly muted performance, with none of the high-volume insults and attacks that characterized the last get-together in Detroit. That mostly made the event a nothing-burger — unless you are really interested in hearing GOP boilerplate on Social Security privatization or Obamacare — with one important exception. With the volume turned down, the emptiness and incoherence of Donald Trump’s approach to public-policy issues becomes especially clear. He’ll make good deals and will be lethally inclined toward America’s enemies (including, for the moment, global Islam, it seems). Even on the one topic where he seemed to have a new thought — supporting the deployment of ground troops to fight ISIS — no reason was given for the change in position, other than a sort of gut feeling it would be necessary to “destroy ISIS.”

Everyone understands that Trump is exploiting a rich and very real vein of public sentiment, centered in but not limited to white working-class folk who may have voted Republican in the past but never shared the economic and foreign-policy views of the business and movement-conservative elites who run the GOP. Some optimistically view this Trump constituency as an addition to the Republican coalition; I think it’s mostly elements of the existing coalition that are threatening to leave unless the party changes. Either way, does this all go away if Trump loses or gets bored and goes back to different modes of brand promotion?

You might think so, but a certain erudite if occasionally cranky polymath and thinker, New America’s Michael Lind, believes there’s something we can call Trumpism, and it’s the future of conservative politics. Here’s how Lind boils it down in a piece on Trump as “the perfect populist” at Politico:

It remains to be seen whether Trump can win the Republican nomination, much less the White House. But whatever becomes of his candidacy, it seems likely that his campaign will prove to be just one of many episodes in the gradual replacement of Buckley-Goldwater-Reagan conservatism by something more like European national populist movements, such as the National Front in France and the United Kingdom Independence Party in Britain. Unlike Goldwater, who spearheaded an already-existing alliance consisting of National Review, Modern Age, and Young Americans for Freedom, Trump has followers but no supportive structure of policy experts and journalists. But it seems likely that some Republican experts and editors, seeking to appeal to his voters in the future, will promote a Trump-like national populist synthesis of middle-class social insurance plus immigration restriction and foreign policy realpolitik,through conventional policy papers and op-eds rather than blustering speeches and tweets.

Now, that’s a fascinating prospect, isn’t it? The entire conservative policy and messaging edifice, the product of hundreds of billions of dollars of investments and many years of development, employing God knows how many thinkers, researchers, gabbers, and writers, replaced by an infrastructure devoted to making Trumpism not just a brand or an epithet but a whole way of thinking about public life.

Where this would all come from is a mystery. The Trump campaign itself is a strange assortment of personal retainers, hired guns, and the occasional public figure reeking of brimstone after climbing aboard Trump’s bandwagon out of what appears to be sheer opportunism. When you look at a guy like Sam Clovis — the intellectually well-regarded Iowa “constitutional conservative” who abandoned Rick Perry’s sinking ship last summer and signed on with Trump as “senior policy adviser” — you see someone who’s probably winging it as much as the Donald himself. So the question abides: Does Trump represent anything larger than himself (not that he could imagine it!)? Is he the harbinger of some “national populist” movement that will kick conventional conservatism to the curb, or just (like many right-wing demagogues before him) the vehicle for the occasional rage that seizes people furious with change?

It’s hard to say. There was a similar moment in the mid-1970s when William Rusher, publisher of the conservative-movement beacon National Review, labored to create a “Producers Party” that would abandon the husk of the Republican Party to its desiccated Establishment and unite Reagan and Wallace supporters in furious opposition to the political elites of both parties and their alleged underclass clientele. Nothing much came of it, and instead Reagan supervised the capture of the GOP by Rusher’s friends and associates who remained within the party. If Trump is somehow elected president, the challenges of actual power may domesticate him and make him a real Republican. Without question, the prestige of the presidency and its vast patronage inside and outside government would stimulate the kind of interest in developing Trumpism that Michael Lind expects. If he wins the Republican nomination but then loses the general election, it’s far more likely the right will turn the whole Trump phenomenon into an object lesson about the consequences of irresponsibility and ideological laxity.

And if Trump can’t even make it to Cleveland and seize the nomination with all of the things working in his favor at present, he’ll become just another loser, and no more likely to become the founding father of a new ideology than Rick Santorum. So don’t hold your breath waiting for the development of Trumpism until and unless Trump takes the oath of office as president. But then we’d have more things to worry about than the future shape of center-right thinking, wouldn’t we?


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 11, 2016

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Media Not Doing Its Job”: Campaign Press Adopts The Trump Rules — They’re The Opposite Of The Clinton Rules

Switching back and forth between MSNBC and CNN last Thursday night as they aired competing, hour-long interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, viewers ran the risk of whiplash. The threat lingered not just because Clinton and Trump were on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but because the tone and tenor of the two events seemed dramatically different.

Here were some of the questions posed to Clinton from the MSNBC event’s co-moderators, NBC’s Chuck Todd and Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart:

  • “What would you do to make possible that the [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival] students become permanent residents?”
  • “Would you ever imagine raising the retirement age in the next 10 years?”
  • “Do you foresee a time when the federal government would be able to include the undocumented [workers] in federal grants for education?”
  • “Should people start paying Social Security taxes on income over $120,000?”
  • “Is a presidential visit [to Cuba] a step too far? Would a President Clinton be going this quickly?”

By contrast, here were some of the questions posed to Trump from the CNN moderator, Anderson Cooper:

  • “What do you eat when you roll up at a McDonald’s, what does – what does Donald Trump order?”
  • “What’s your favorite kind of music?”
  • “How many hours a night do you sleep?”
  • “What kind of a parent are you?”
  • “What is one thing you wish you didn’t do?”

Obviously, those questions don’t reflect everything asked over the 60-minute programs. And I’m not suggesting Trump didn’t get any policy questions during his CNN sit-down. But the vibe from MSNBC’s Clinton event was definitely, Midterm Cram Session, while the vibe from CNN’s Trump event leaned towards, People Magazine Wants To Know. (One week later, Clinton sat for a CNN town hall where she did not receive any of the light, lifestyle questions that were asked to Trump.)

In a way, the interviews nicely captured the unfolding guidelines for the 2016 campaign season. With both Clinton and Trump enjoying big election wins last weekend and now apparently with inside tracks to their party’s nomination, we’re beginning to see signs about what the press coverage of a Clinton vs. Trump general election might look like.

Bill and Hillary Clinton have been in the public spotlight so long, and have been sparring with the Beltway press for so many years, that so-called Clinton Rules have been established. They outline the informal guidelines media follow when covering the Clintons.

The one-word distillation of the Clinton Rules? Negativity. Likely followed by distrust, snark, and condescension. Simple facts are considered optional and the Clintons are always, always held to a different, tougher standard than everyone else.

By contrast, Trump has only been in the campaign spotlight for eight months but I’d suggest the media’s Trump Rules have already come into focus: Intimidation, aggrandizement, and a lack of curiosity.

In other words, when you fly above the campaign season with a bird’s eye view, it seems inescapable that the press is being soft on the Republican, while at the same being hard on the Democrat.

Have reporters and pundits given Trump a complete pass? Absolutely not. (See more below.) Just as with the Clinton Rules, there are always exceptions to the coverage. But in terms of a vibe and a feel, it’s hard to claim that Trump is getting hit with the same relentlessly caustic (she’s doomed!) coverage that follows Clinton around everywhere she goes.

Can anyone even imagine what the relentless, almost hysterical, press coverage would look like if Clinton rallies were marred by violence, and if she denounced campaign reporters as disgusting liars? So far, neither of those phenomena from the Trump campaign have sparked crisis coverage from the press.

Some journalists are starting to concede the Trump Rules are in effect. The Washington Post just dubbed Trump a “unicorn” because he gets away with things no other candidate does. On Twitter, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith suggested “there’s obviously been a trade, mostly on TV, of laying off his dishonesty and bigotry on exchange for access.”

Pulitizer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin bemoaned the hands-off vetting of Trump:

Do we know, at this point, about his modus operandi in business? Do we know how he treated his staff? Do we know what kind of leader he was when he was building his business? I mean, I don’t know the answers to these things. All I know is that, when I see him now, it’s like his past is not being used by the media to tell us who the guy really is.

And neither do I.

For instance, I don’t know much about Trump’s finances. Clinton last year released eight years of tax returns but Trump won’t yet give a firm answer regarding if and when he’ll do the same. So why hasn’t that been a pressing media pursuit?

Last week, veteran Time political scribe Joe Klein also teed off on his colleagues, while appearing on MSNBC’s Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell:

It’s the most — probably the most embarrassing coverage of a candidate that I’ve seen in my 11-God- help-me presidential campaigns. First of all, we’re aggrandizing him like crazy because he boosts ratings. Second of all, we’re not doing our job.

Days later, leaked audio from MSNBC’s infamous Trump town hall event seemed to confirm a central claim that excessive Trump coverage — and usually the fawning variety — is good for business and good for media careers. During a commercial break after Mika Brzezinski thanked Trump for participating in the town hall event, Trump said, “I’m doing this because you get great ratings and a raise — me, I get nothing.”

They don’t teach that at journalism school.

Note that the strange part of the larger Trump Rules phenomenon is that the candidate mouths so much constant nonsense on the campaign trail, you’d think he’d dread going on TV and answering pointed questions about his bullying campaign. But it’s quite the opposite. Because even when journalists raise thorny topics with him, they usually give Trump a pass.

For instance, on Sunday’s State of the Union, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump about the white supremacist supporters he had retweeted, which certainly constitutes a probing question that likely made Trump uncomfortable, right?

Not exactly. While the initial question from Tapper was good, when Trump responded with a rambling, 600-word non-answer, which concluded with him vowing to bring jobs back from India, Tapper simply moved on to the next topic instead of drilling down on the fact that the Republican frontrunner was retweeting white supremacists.

Or hit the Wayback Machine to last September when Trump appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation and spun for host John Dickerson the fantastic tale about how 9/11 terrorists had tipped off their (mostly non-existent) wives about the pending terror attack, and had their (mostly non-existent) wives flown home days before hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center.

Dickerson’s response? He didn’t raise a single question about Trump’s concocted claims.

Print journalists seem to be doing a better job at fact-checking Trump. To his credit, Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post has called out some of Trump’s more outlandish claims. Kessler’s recent foray surrounded Trump’s “truly absurd claim he would save $300 billion a year on prescription drugs.”

Kessler’s conclusion? Trump is nuts. Or, more delicately:

Once again, we are confronted with a nonsense figure from the mouth of Donald Trump. He is either claiming to save four times the entire cost of the Medicare prescription drug system – or he is claiming to make prescription drugs free for every American.

Have occasional findings of fact like that changed the often-breezy tenor of Trump’s overall coverage? No they have not. Because two days after Kessler’s Medicare takedown, Trump was interviewed for an hour on CNN where the candidate wasn’t asked about his nutty prescription drug estimates. But he was asked what kind of music he likes and if he orders French fries at McDonald’s.

Welcome to the Trump Rules.


By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America; The National Memo,  February 25, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Another ‘Here Comes Marco Rubio!’ Boomlet”: Can The Media And The GOP Establishment Sell Marco Rubio To GOP Voters?

“This is the moment they said would never happen!” said a triumphant Marco Rubio in his victory speech last night in Iowa. It was an odd thing to say, coming from a guy who just came in third, after all the polls showed him running…third. And while he didn’t specify who “they” were, that kind of vague “they” usually refers to the powers that be, the hidebound thinkers of the political and media elite. Which is also odd, because those are the people who have always been most enthusiastic about Rubio.

If all the attention in the GOP presidential primary will now narrow down to three candidates — Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump — there’s no question who the choice of the Republican establishment (and yes, I know it’s a problematic term, but it does refer to something real) will be. After panicking for weeks about the race coming down to a choice between an erratic billionaire with no commitment to the party and an insurgent ideologue even other Republicans find loathsome, Rubio offers the only way out, the party’s best chance of avoiding disaster in the fall.

So we’re upon another “Here comes Marco Rubio!” boomlet, even though it’s based on almost nothing other than the fact that he somehow “exceeded expectations” by coming in exactly where everyone expected him to in Iowa, albeit with a few more points of support than polls had shown. As I argued yesterday, when someone does better than expectations, it doesn’t tell us much about them; it just tells us that those doing the expecting were wrong. But no matter — today’s headlines tell us of “Marco Rubio’s very big night in Iowa,” to “Forget Ted Cruz: Marco Rubio is the big winner of the Iowa caucuses,” that “After Iowa, keep your eye on Marco Rubio, not Trump or Cruz,” and “Why the Iowa caucus was a win for Marco Rubio, even though he lost to Ted Cruz.”

Cruz told NBC: “I’m amused at listening to media talk about ‘what an impressive third place finish!’” But since Cruz portrays himself as the scourge of both the media and political elite, it’s probably fine by him. He’ll now get to say that he’s the insurgent and Rubio represents the establishment, which in addition to tapping into the Republican electorate’s mood of disillusionment will have the virtue of being true.

The Republican establishment knows that Rubio looks like the most electable candidate — he’s not a loose cannon like Trump and not a bitter ideologue like Cruz. And as Michael Brendan Dougherty argues, “Rubio’s candidacy is essentially based on the premise that nothing from the George W. Bush era has to change for the Republican Party,” that even though he may look different, he’s offering the same policy prescription as ever: tax cuts for the wealthy, an interventionist foreign policy, and a hard right line on social issues. Also, unlike Cruz, Rubio doesn’t spend all his time lambasting Washington Republicans for being a bunch of traitorous weaklings.

But why would the supposedly liberal media think so highly of Rubio? To begin with, let’s not kid ourselves: they do. He’s not personally repellent or drawn to kamikaze tactics, like Cruz, and he’s not crazy, like Trump. Rubio is a good speaker, is pretty informed about policy, and has a heartwarming personal story about his immigrant parents. When those journalists and commentators say so, and write stories describing how Rubio’s campaign is about to blossom, they’re expressing their faith in the process. Regardless of their personal ideology, they’d like to believe that this whole chaotic mess eventually winds up in a somewhat rational place. If the GOP nominates Rubio, it’s proof that the process works and one of our two great parties has not completely lost its mind.

How does that square with all the attention given to Donald Trump? Trump pulls the media in two different directions. On one hand, he’s an irresistible story, a compelling personality who constantly says appallingly newsworthy things and drives his opponents crazy. We’ve loved reporting on him and writing about him. It’s been a hoot. But on the other hand, were Trump to actually win, it would show that the system can be hacked, that a kind of lunacy had taken over, that the worst kind of demagoguery and the shallowest kind of celebrity can combine to hijack what is supposed to be a relatively orderly and predictable process. And to people who care about politics, whatever their personal beliefs about issues, that would be a disturbing result.

So whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, most people in the media would probably prefer Trump to fall eventually, after we’ve all been thoroughly entertained by his candidacy. Rubio as the GOP nominee might not be as much fun, but it makes sense.

We’ve been through this before. Four months ago, we witnessed the sudden emergence of articles predicting that Rubio was about to rise. Unfortunately for him, the voters didn’t get the memo; in the average of national polls he stands at 10 percent, not too far from where he’s been all along. Maybe now that the voting has started and other candidates have begun falling away, Rubio will gain support and even win a primary somewhere. But at the moment, outside of Iowa, he’s still the candidate of the elites, not the voters.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, February 2, 2016

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, GOP Voters, Mainstream Media, Marco Rubio | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“I Fear I Have Been Mistaken”: President Trump is Now A Possibility. And It’s Terrifying

Like many members of the media, I have spent much of the past six months pretending I have some idea of what will happen in the presidential election.  Specifically, I have maintained a sanguine and somewhat bemused certainty that, whatever else happens, there will be no President Trump.

Today, with every meaning of this phrase, I fear I have been mistaken. At this moment, with the final Des Moines Register poll in and considering what I have seen and read about Trump’s supporters in Iowa and elsewhere, it would be foolish to say that President Trump isn’t a possibility. And that is terrifying.

Here are the things I have said to tamp down the notion that Trump could win the nomination:

“The establishment Republicans will rally behind a candidate.”

“He doesn’t speak the language of the evangelical voter.”

“Veterans will see right through him.”

“He doesn’t have a real infrastructure or ground game.”

“You can’t win without making significant ad buys.”

“His negatives are too high to get very far.”

“His supporters aren’t dedicated enough to caucus.”

I’m still holding on to some hope for the last one. (Not since high school have I wished so fervently for a snow day.) The rest of these assumptions have either been falsified or called into significant question.

You’ll notice I didn’t even bother listing the numerous things Trump has said to offend people. I have stopped believing it is possible for Trump to give offense – or, rather, I have stopped believing that giving offense is a reason people would cease to support him.

All he really needs to do is win Iowa — an increasingly likely outcome. After that… Well, tell me the first state he’ll lose. Not New Hampshire (leads by 18). Not South Carolina (leads by 15). Not Nevada (leads by 12). Super Tuesday states have been infrequently polled, but the two with the biggest delegate prizes (proportionally distributed) have recent results. Trump leads in Georgia by 10 points, and in Texas the “poll of polls” has him closing the gap with, ahem, “native son” Cruz to just two points. In Florida, he leads by 17 points.

What’s more, polls of a shrinking field seem to suggest that as long as a standard-bearer for the establishment remains in the race, Trump will continue to dominate. Cruz emerges the victor only in a head-to-head battle – a bittersweet indication for Cruz that he is not quite as hated by moderate Republicans as he either claims or should be.

I will refrain from running through specific general election scenarios, because — she sighs heavily — we are not there yet. Here is where we are: The strong possibility that Trump will get the GOP nomination, and that means that there is a non-zero chance that he will win the general election.

Non-zero is, to say the least, less that certain, but it’s a greater chance than most political professionals have given him up until… now. And non-zero is enough to scare the shit out of me.

Rationally, a Trump primary victory is clearly disturbing, but until this week I hadn’t considered it beyond an uncomfortable commentary on the Republican electorate on the way to a certain Democratic victory.

I mean, right? Er, right?

If we – I – have been so wrong about Trump’s chances at making it to the general, then I think it’s only appropriate to question all our assumptions about his chances nationally.

I spent much of this week reading and watching interviews with Trump supporters. I’d taken the  previously reported incidents of slurs and scuffles at rallies seriously, of course. But a distracting voice in my head countered that crowds take on their own personalities, that protesters often intend to provoke responses, and that, besides, could you really ascribe the same level of ugliness to everyone? Surely, those responses were the extreme of the extreme.

Go read the report put together by CNN. It’s a collection of quotes left to stand mostly on their own, taken not from those kicking and punching and shouting but the rest of the crowd. There is nothing new here, not really, it’s the same ill-informed nationalist doggerel as he spouts.  It’s chilling not because it’s somehow more extreme than you thought it’d be but rather because their complaints are so uniform and matter-of-fact:

“White Americans founded this country,” one 64-year-old woman told CNN. “We are being pushed aside because of the President’s administration and the media.”

A recent study delivered statistical proof of the mindset only implied by the language: Trump supporters are attracted to a quality that goes beyond “being a successful businessman.” They are attracted to his authoritarianism. They are, in fact, in favor of turning authoritarian ideas into policy:

Trump voters exhibit statistically significant and substantive authoritarian attitudes. For example, Trump voters are statistically more likely to agree that other groups should sometimes be kept in their place. They support preventing minority opposition once we decide what is right.

Trump supporters kick the fundamental tenets of Madisonian democracy to the curb, asserting that the rights of minorities need not be protected from the power of the majority. And they are statistically more likely than Trump opponents to agree the president should curtail the voice and vote of the opposition when it is necessary to protect the country.

To put it another way. The frightening thing about Trump voters is not that they’re angry, it’s that they believe they’re right—and they believe they’re winning.

Trump has, to use language Trumpkins would likely sneer at, empowered them. That sense of empowerment matters because the difference between authoritarians and populists is any sense of respect for minority opinions. In a world run by authoritarians, the only break on unjust behavior is whether you can get away it.

So, now, imagine a Trump nomination. Imagine how empowering that would be, and to whom.

There are two prevailing theories for why journalists and data crunchers got Trump’s trajectory wrong. One argument has it that Trump’s candidacy is a “black swan event”—an unprecedented amalgam of unreproducible and unpredictable circumstances, simply too weird to have foreseen.

I like that theory because it lets us off the hook, somewhat. And, well, it’s not an inaccurate description… but it’s really more of a description than an explanation. What’s more: all swans look gray in the rearview mirror. The end of Trump might look like the rise of nationalism in Europe or might look like Goldwater’s defeat. But it will look like something that has happened before, because everything does.

Another theory as to pundits’ blinkeredness, popular on the right, has it that we in the political world were simply too caught up in our cocktails and TV green room chatter to notice what was going on out there in “real America.”

This certainly feels close to the truth. There is darkness to be found out there, in the rallying around Kim Davis and the rejection of civil rights in Houston. On the other hand: “Real America” is multifaceted and self-contradictory, like most other real things. Americans show growing, support for an increased minimum wage and police body cameras, and young people have a historically high rate of interracial dating. How were we supposed to pick out the authoritarian strain from the progressive one?

I think we didn’t see Trump coming because we lacked imagination.

Science fiction has done a better job at predicting Trump’s success than political science has, after all. Neal Stephenson Interface describes a candidate guided via the input of real-time polling data directly into his brain. (He even decides to skip a debate.) Dark Mirror has plumbed the phenomenon of “a “joke” candidate becoming so popular that the forces behind him slip easily into despotism and violence.

Social scientists and journalists imprison themselves behind conventional wisdom and, to a lesser extent, evidence–the dark impulses that fuel Trump’s supporters have been mostly invisible to the naked eye: Sure, around the fringes of the Tea Party and in the twisty bowels of internet comments, one could sense the anger and racism, but I avoided looking into the abyss and preferred instead to gesture towards the more intelligible gamesmanship of Washington insiders.

It’s no secret that Trump’s rise has created history’s longest hot mic moment for the media. We have been caught without a script, and the rote truisms and filler material that usually fills the awkward silences have proven increasingly inappropriate to the unprecedented tragicomedy playing out before us.

I now see what my problem was: in discounting Trump’s chances, I relied on guidance from history and reason. These are inadequate defenses against the forces at work in Trump’s rise.

Logic didn’t help us foresee him and won’t work against him. We can’t argue policy, we are going to need something more like a Patronus.

I am not endorsing magical thinking; beliefs in no-cost shortcuts, legends, and mythical creatures are what brought us Trump. But we will need more than debate, a force stronger than facts.

I suspect we’ll need love: love for our country, for the people in it, for the ideas it stands for.

We have to love our country and what it can be more than Trump supporters fear what they believe it’s becoming. His power stems from their belief in that darkness – and with persistence and patience and heart, we’re going to have to make them see the light.


By: Ana Marie Cox, The Daily Beast, January 31, 2016

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trump Bullies The Press — And The Press Yawns”: Same Press Corp That Writes Endlessly About Hillary Clinton’s Relationship

“I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly.” Trump attorney Michael Cohen threatening a reporter.

It’s sad that Donald Trump is normalizing so many unsavory traits with his presidential push this season. He’s normalizing bigotry and xenophobia in the campaign arena, for instance. He’s also mainstreaming the manhandling of the press.

Just ask Trip Gabriel.

The New York Times reporter was tossed out of a Trump event in Iowa last week. He was thrown out by a Trump staff member and a local police officer who suggested he was following the orders of Trump’s Iowa campaign chief. (Days earlier, Grabriel had written a piece that raised questions about Trump’s ground game in Iowa.)

On the surface, that’s a shocking event: the Republican frontrunner’s campaign singling out a Times reporter and having him physically ousted. But since last summer, this type of bullying behavior has become quite common, and the media’s response has become nearly mute. Indeed, Gabriel’s ejection was noted in the media but didn’t seem to set off any loud alarm.

Covering Trump today means being confined to metal barrier press pens at events. It means rarely being allowed to ask the candidate questions and being the target of vicious insults from the candidate and his fans. (One CBS reporter covering a rally was recently asked by a Trump supporter if he was taking pictures on behalf of ISIS.)

Trump and his campaign push the press around at will and they pay no real price. If anything, Trump gets showered with more press attention despite calling out reporters as “scum”; despite denouncing them as liars and cheats at his campaign rallies.

On and on the bullying goes and the pushback remains minimal. This is a profound embarrassment for the national press corps. It’s a profound embarrassment for editors and producers in positions of influence who have voluntarily acquiesced their power in order to bow down to Trump and his campaign road show.

The gleeful bullying of the press meshes with the bullying that often goes on at Trump rallies, where violence percolates. Like those thug rallies, we’ve certainly never seen this kind of behavior from a major party’s political frontrunner.

But like the Trump rallies, where’s the indignation over the constant press intimidation? Where are the outraged editorials? Where are the endless, handwringing TV panel debates about what Trump’s hatred of the press really means; what it tells us about his possible character flaws, and his would-be presidency.

It’s possible the press doesn’t want to make itself the story, that it wants to maintain its role as observers and not newsmaker and that’s why it has refrained from turning Trump’s bullying into a big story. That theory takes a hit though when you consider the same press corps has written endlessly about Hillary Clinton’s relationship with the press and has stressed over and over what a central role reporters play in her White House push.

It’s true that last November, representatives from several news networks banded together and held a call to discuss “how embeds and reporters from outlets are being treated” by the Trump campaign.

But as Huffington Post‘s Michael Calderone recently reported, the Trump campaign seems uninterested in the press complaints: “In recent weeks, journalists have again been ordered not to leave the press pen by campaign staffers and volunteers and even Secret Service agents, according to reporters who were granted anonymity to speak candidly. Journalists also said they were not allowed to approach the candidate to ask questions after events.”

Journalists: We think you’re treating us badly.

Trump campaign: We don’t care what you think.


*At a recent Trump rally, a Huffington Post reporter noted, “that a Secret Service agent stepped up to help when a Trump campaign staffer tried to interfere with his reporting.”

*Trump bashed Fox News host Megyn Kelly as “bitter” and “overrated,” called NBC’s Chuck Todd “pathetic,” and announced most journalists are “absolute scum.”

*Asked about allegations from a 1993 book that Trump had sexually assaulted his then-wife Ivana Trump (she later recanted the claim), Donald Trump’s attorney threatened a Daily Beast reporter: “So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?”

*At a South Carolina rally, Trump mocked and mimicked a New York Times reporter who suffers from a chronic condition called arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his arms.

*His campaign barred a BuzzFeed reporter from attending an event in Newton, Iowa, denied Des Moines Register and Huffington Post reporters press credentials to campaign events, and barred reporters from Fusion from covering a Trump event in Doral, Florida.

*Univision anchor Jorge Ramos was physically removed from a Trump press conference.

*A security guard at an Iowa rally threatened to eject any reporter who interviewed Trump supporters: “You talk to people and you leave.”

*At a South Carolina event, Trump derided NBC’s Katy Tur as “Little Katy, third-rate journalist.” Trump fans then rained boos down on Tur, according to the Daily Beast.

One more, from the Washington Post:

After CNN reporter Noah Gray left “the pen” to document a group of protesters who unveiled a sign reading “Migrant lives matter,” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski turned to campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks and said: “Hey: Tell Noah, get back in the pen or he’s f***** blacklisted,” according to a recording of the incident.

This type of behavior is completely unprecedented. If a leading Democrat were guilty of any of the above transgressions, there would be a roiling Beltway media revolt that would denounce the Democratic campaign continuously. Uninterrupted.

But the Trump campaign has committed all of the above offenses. So why is it mostly crickets from the same press corps?


By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America, January 20, 2016

January 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Washington Press Corp | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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