Friday, November 11, 2016
The Press and Donald Trump's Army of Haters
The press has come in for a great deal of well-justified criticism for how it covered the 2016 election, especially the way it focused on trivialities and non-events and was devoid of any kind of serious policy considerations. But I consider its most grievous sin the failure of the press to take seriously the reportage that was being done, and was in fact widely available, documenting Donald Trump's alignment with and empowerment of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, militia 'Patriots,' and various extremist factions.
These factions' propensity for ethnic, religious, racial, anti-LGBT, and other kinds of violence is well known and well documented. And because the Trump election has clearly empowered them, a rash of hate crimes against Muslims, Latinos, blacks and gays has broken out (some 200 on the first day alone) and is unlikely to abate soon. Indeed, I'm now deeply concerned that we are going to see pro-Trump militiamen showing up for the anti-Trump demonstrations, and things could become very ugly then. And the press is powerfully to blame.
I was just discussing this with Bruce Wilson on a Chip Berlet post. He pointed out that no one in the press picked up on his reportage that key members of the Trump campaign (mainly Donald Trump Jr.) appeared on several white-nationalist-based radio shows in the waning days of the campaign, for instance. I noted that Sarah Posner and I were both actually aware of those appearances as we were finishing up our piece for Mother Jones on the Trump campaign's massive connections to the white-nationalist and far-right extremist world, and that he had actively bolstered their participation with wink-and-nudge signals they read as encouragement. The database we created in tracking all these connections turned out to be massive, though, and we wound up having to be very selective about what we included, and the radio shows didn't make the cut.
The reason there was no appetite for Bruce's reportage was the same there was no appetite for ours: When Hillary Clinton had, just a couple weeks before our story was published, called out Trump's alt-right connections herself, the story was transformed by the press into a small-minded fetish about one of her remarks -- describing some of these people, quite appropriately, as "deplorables" -- into a trivial horse-race matter, one that Trump successfully converted into an attack on Clinton by having his base embrace "deplorable" as a joke label. The press thereafter completely lost interest in the issue, rather than continuing to take the matter seriously. The examination of the underlying issue -- the reality that Trump was building an army of ugly, racist, and vile hardcore followers was completely glossed over and missed.
And of course, ours was far from the only reportage. There were stories about Trump's anti-Semitism, and his ongoing support from the alt-right, and their plans to take over the Republican Party after the election -- all of which is bubbling up now, after it's all a fait accompli.
The outcome is now happening in our schools and our communities. Thanks a lot, "liberal media."
Here's our report from October (and be sure to click on the sidebar, too). You tell me if, in retrospect, it's pretty outrageous that this got buried.
How Trump Took Hate Groups Mainstream