Posted Saturday morning, September 17, 2016.
I don't believe that on the whole the national press corps wants Trump to win. Seems that way sometimes though doesn't it?
But most of the journalists covering this circus of an election are smart, decent-minded people and they know Trump for what he is and are appalled by him and at the prospect of him president. And there are signs they are growing more and more appalled and angry, and they’re determined to do something about it.
Trump does have allies and closet fans in the press corps. There are right-leaning, racist, corporatist authoritarian journalists, and not all of them work for FoxNews. Not all of them think of themselves as conservative. Some of them are liberals. Ostensibly, anyway. But they see Trump as their kind of president. Presidents are big, tall, tough-talking, strong men--- strongmen, in fact. Presidents keep the nation safe by blustering and bullying and they keep the riffraff in line the same way.
But there are members of the press corps who don't want Trump to win. They want Hillary to lose.
And serve her right.
What this would mean for the country is not their immediate concern. And not their problem.
And the profession, like just about every profession, includes a great many hacks and mediocrities. They don’t cover elections. They cover the conventional wisdom and they do it the old conventional way and that means reporting on Personality and Process, who’s winning and who’s losing today, and who made what gaffe and how will that affect who’s winning and who’s losing today. And they do it by treating both sides as the same, but with the Democrats being more of the same because God forbid they reveal a liberal bias and have to face criticism from their Republican friends. They’re also affected by Trump’s celebrity and their sense of what a real President looks like.
I don’t think they want Trump to win.
They just don't want him to be losing.
And they don't want Hillary to be winning.
They want this to be a tossup right up to just after the polls close on November 8.
And I’m afraid this goes for even the good, decent-minded, responsible ones.
They have papers to sell, eyeballs to grab, clicks to bait. They have jobs they need to justify to themselves and their bosses. Trump, Hillary, the voters, the future health and well-being of the country don't matter at any given moment as much as ratings and page views.
And to those ends Trump is more useful than Clinton. Trump is NEWS! in the way news is really defined by those whose livelihoods depend on reporting it---spectacle, scandal, controversy, and Personality on shameless display.
One of the things journalists covering her can't stand about Clinton is she refuses to be a Personality.
Of course, the rare times she tries it they hate her for not being good enough at it.
Instead of being a Personality, all she can manage is to be the person she is.
The press corps isn’t rooting for Trump to win in November. They're rooting for him to be NEWS! today.
That covering him as NEWS instead of as the lying demagogue he is and the disaster he would be is helping him is something they're aware of and the best of them worry about and try to resist. But they don't know how to cover him otherwise. The best way to cover a would-be dictator who is exploiting the media coverage of him as his main tactic for getting himself elected dictator is not to cover him.
That won't happen.
Even the good ones will tell you they can’t do that. That would mean not doing their jobs as reporters. You can’t ask political reporters not to cover politicians, especially politicians running for President on a major party line. It would be like asking local reporters not to cover a fire, as if fires are conscious and start themselves in order to make the news.
They have to report the news.
By which as I said they mean the NEWS!
It's their job. It's their responsibility. It's their duty.
Anyway, they're having too much fun.
Slate's chief political correspondent Jamelle Bouie is concerned that a considerable number of journalists covering the election don't seem to grasp or care what the consequences of a Trump victory would be. He would know better than me. And since he is one of the smartest, most responsible, and most conscientious journalists covering politics theses days, I feel confident trusting that he does know.
The Hillary haters and the hacks and mediocrities and the ones having too much fun covering the NEWS and even many of the ones who are almost as smart and conscientious as Jamelle---we’re talking about the white ones. Reporters of color know better from experience---seem to accept that putting a lunatic racist clown in the Oval Office will be too bad but nothing to really worry about. Trump's a clown, right? How much harm can a clown do?
Anyway, there's another election in four years. If the people don't don't like having this clown as president, they can vote him out the door.
Meantime, at least he'll be fun to cover. He'll be NEWS!