The disturbing stories are rolling in about ugly abuse and threats against the press by Donald Trump's supporters:
- One reporter tells of a "mob mentality" against journalists at Trump rallies, adding, "The people who are shouting look at us like we're their immediate enemies, not as like . . . primarily late-20-to-early-30-somethings there to do a job." Reporters are now concealing or removing their press credentials when leaving the pen to avoid confrontations with Trump's supporters, and the atmosphere is particularly threatening to female reporters and to female TV reporters.
Trump himself is mainly responsible for inspiring this ugly behavior by his supporters. But hatred of the media has been the right-wing Media Research Center's core belief for decades.
That anti-media philosophy is the bedrock of the nasty rhetoric Trump aims in every speech at the journalists who cover him -- he's clearly drawing inspiration from the MRC's work -- and the MRC has responded in kind by enthusiastically endorsed and promoted Trump's "rigged media" tirades. MRC chief Brent Bozell even wrote a column last week headlined "Trump's Right: The Media Is Rigged," in which he makes the lazy, generalistic assertion that journalists are trying to "rig the elections in favor of the Democrats." (He has said nothing about the journalists who actually are trying to rig the election for Trump.)
That means the MRC owns a piece of this escalating ugliness against journalists. Yet you won't see any mention of it on any MRC-run website.
You'd think the MRC would want to try to turn down the heat a little -- if only for appearance's sake -- by telling Trump and his supporters to tone it down a bit. Or maybe Bozell and Co. aren't opposed to seeing acts of violence against journalists; perhaps they enjoy the mob mentality and condone the ugliness as a form of revenge against the bias they claim the media has perpetrated. After all, Trump is the biggest megaphone the MRC's anti-media message has ever had, and it's clearly loath to willingly give that up.
But this much is obvious: If a Trump supporter goes too far and commits an act of violence against a journalist -- which seems sadly likely given the vehemence of the anti-media hate Trump has whipped up -- some of that blood will be on the MRC's hands.
Bozell and his MRC have a choice here: Draw a line and warn against anti-journalist violence, or continue to ride the Trump train and put its message (and the fundraising that comes with it) first regardless of the seemingly inevitable consequences. Unfortunately so far, they have chosen the latter.
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