Since the stupidity is so fast and furious in the era of Il Trumpe, it’s difficult to refer to a single stupid miscue by the political press corps to make a point. Regardless, we recently witnessed the spectacle of a NY Times reporter hyperventilating over Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro calling out maxed-out Latino Trump donors from his district in El Paso, Texas. One problem is that our political press corps is best thought of as incompetent and compromised intelligence officers who sympathize with their subjects.
Another is that many in the press corps simply do not see Trump as an existential threat. Never mind that his program, to the extent he has one, and arguably his one truly held ideology, is white supremacy (boldface mine):
If you accept, as you should, that Trump’s racist incitement is neither accidental, nor some unthinking cynicism that he can be talked out of, but a symptom of his profound moral deformities, the only earnest answer to the question—what can he do to make this better?—is that he should vanish. He can not stop being who he fundamentally is. He will not resign from office, repent, and enter seclusion. He does the bad things he does for reasons that are neither mysterious nor irrational, and so he can’t make things better any more than peddlers of junk food, narcotics, alcohol, and tobacco can improve the country’s physical health. A terrorist attack may not have been Trump’s goal exactly, but to the extent that it confirms he has successfully nurtured hatred, paranoia, and grievance, he is not unhappy about it.
And this is why O’Rourke’s challenge, connect the dots, won’t just be hard for many political journalists to meet—it helps explain why they adopt the naive pose in the first place. Trump isn’t just rotten in this one realm, but in all that he does, and connecting the dots would require journalists inclined to cover campaigns and “normal” partisan combat to look aghast at a sinister pattern of behavior, and alert the country to it…
The answers to these questions are no more reassuring or elusive than the answer to the question that bedevils the political establishment most of all: Why does Trump constantly stoke hatred of immigrants and Muslims and minorities? They are all easy to answer if you can acknowledge that Trump is engaged in a fundamentally malevolent project. The inability to do that, and the attendant unwillingness to connect the dots around it, has given rise to a media failure that in some ways exceeds the 2002 and 2003 coverage of the build up to war in Iraq….
Today, before our eyes, Trump and his allies seek to crush the foundations of multiracial democracy and replace them with a white ethnostate where the ruling class directs violence at scapegoat communities to create the climate it needs to get away with looting the country and dismantling all checks on its power. If you can see that, and articulate it, you don’t ask what Trump might do to make things better, or say he “urges unity vs. racism.” If you can’t see it, or your job requires you to blind yourself to it, you must treat his ultimate purposes as an impenetrable mystery. You might explain away his efforts to end an investigation of an attack on the United States, and his coziness with the perpetrator, as impulses of a man who merely worries the Russia matter undermines his legitimacy. You might marvel at his occasional, scripted, disingenuous condemnations of all the forces he has fostered, and chase down Democrats to ask them if they think Trump is racist.
Many members of ethnic, racial, and religious minorities, along with LGBTQ people, view Trump and the bigotry he has enabled, encouraged, and emboldened as an existential threat. People feel threatened and frightened. If you’re on that side of the divide, then you don’t think it should be business-as-usual. But many who are not members of those groups, including a fair number of the august solons of our press corps, simply do not think of Trump as an existential threat. The rest of us will suffer for their lack of empathy.