I was shocked last night at Bill Maher ("Real Time," HBO).
This is a man who once wrote a book, If You Drive Alone, You Drive With Bin Laden, making the point of being unwitting collaborators to terrorism. Now, Maher does exactly what he cautioned against. He became Trump's unwitting collaborator by providing Trump's campaign manager an entire segment to spew forth lies trying to normalize him to a suburban audience that, in general, appears to be falling for Trump's deception.
If Donald Trump wins the presidency, it will be due in no small part to the media valuing ratings over integrity. And, if he wins, the media will largely cease to exist as a relevant sector.
Donald Trump is a narcissistic sociopath. He is so insecure, he will broach no criticism. Anyone who believes his campaign behavior is an outlier, and that the institutions will change him if he is in the Oval Office, does not understand sociopaths.
Authoritarians do not consider the media to have a legitimate counterveiling role. Narcissists cannot tolerate any criticism. Sociopaths have no capacity to appreciate a system designed for compromise, decorum, and rational thought. To a Donald Trump, the media will either promote and legitimize his regime... or they will be put out of business, one way or the other. Period.
So, by covering Donald Trump, in their pursuit of the ratings that his disgusting behavior engenders, the media is actually sowing the seeds of its own destruction. If it wants ratings, they will need access. If they want access, the media will have to serve not its sacred role as the fourth estate in a democracy, but the demands and needs of the dear leader. No exception, no matter how trivial, will be tolerated.
The best defense the broadcast media has is simply to stop covering Donald Trump. They can report on what he said, if they wish, but there should be no videos, no interviews, no family, no campaign staff, interviewed.
In the segment Maher told the campaign manager that she was helping to spread evil. But, he was helping her do it! He is far too savvy to think that a simple attack like "spreading evil" overcomes the 10' minutes of a smiling woman telling everyone how honest, true, and committed Donald Trump is to their well-being.
Why Bill? Why? Why give them a nanosecond of lying-hate time to deceive millions of people that he is not evil? Or, as George Schultz, Reagan's Secretary of State said about a Trump presidency, "Heaven help us".
To paraphrase the title of your book, If You Provide Your Media Legitimacy to Trump, or his Surrogates, You Ride With Trump.
Trump and all his surrogates should be cut out of the daily news cycle. He can go on FOX and complain to Hannity, but he already has those voters. There is no need to amplify those complaints into the general broadcast media.
Print media should start calling his lies for what they are--lie--not "stretching the truth".
The debates should provide real-time fact-checking.
Donald Trump's campaign has physically roughed up reporters, blacklisted others, mocked a disabled reporter, insulted the intelligence of others, and sexually harassed women. It has lied, bullied, and snookered the media. They have every reason to respond as suggested.
Broadcast media (cable and network) has handled the presidential race as a contest between two legitimate candidates, whose statements, policy positions and personal matters require neutrality. That one candidate has been clocked at 71 lies in 60 minutes (i.e., greater than a lie-per-minute!) has not altered their coverage. That one candidate has been engaged in 3500 lawsuits (i.e., a new with lawsuit every 3 days for 30 years) has not changed anything.
Is it "just another political statement" that one candidate has praised Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein as strong leaders? Or, is it of a kind that should have no legitimacy, no currency, no coverage?
Is there no level of venality, no level of cursedness, no level of evil, as Maher correctly put it, no amount of abuse that he hurls upon the press, that will cause the media to recognize the clear and present danger to our way of governing and thus our way of life, indeed our existence on this planet? What do you need?
You cannot beat a sociopath at his own game, and you cannot win by presenting a dignified, nuanced alternative when you allow evil to cloak itself in legitimacy.
Chris Matthews defended Matt Lauer's cowardly performance of not calling Trump out for his lies regarding support for the Iraq War, for the Libyan intervention, and for the Iraq troop withdrawal, stating that to have confronted the sociopath, Lauer would have been expressing an opinion!
Opinion!, when there are taped facts that provide incontrovertible evidence to the contrary! And, this, from Chris Matthews, arguably the most overtly opinionated host on MSNBC.
According to his ghost-writer, Donald Trump did not care if he had bad publicity, so long as he had publicity. He would sit for hours staring at photos of himself in the media.
That is, media, you know his Achilles heel. He is totally insecure. He needs attention, big attention, he craves it. Deprive him of his fix. Stop covering him, let him go cold-turkey on the fringes, trying desperately to regain your attention.
He will demand "fairness", but do not fall for it. He has never been "fair" to anyone in his life.
If you think he will honor the favor, talk to all the businesses he stiffed, all the employees he did not pay, all the assurances he gave.
Honor is not in Trump's vocabulary.