Al­ready Hap­pen­ing: Me­dia Nor­mal­iza­tion of Trump­ism

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Joy-Ann Reid -Reprinted: thedai­ly­beast

In the chil­dren’s short story “The Em­peror’s New Clothes,” by Hans Chris­tian An­der­sen, what kept the fic­tion of the naked em­peror’s sar­to­rial splen­dor alive was noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar about the em­peror. True, he was vain and plainly fool­ish; eas­ily tricked by the false flat­tery of swindlers into pay­ing a kingly sum for a cloak so fine and mag­i­cal that only the wise and true could see it. But it was the peo­ple of the king­dom, in­clud­ing his trusted ad­vis­ers, who main­tained the ab­surd notion that he was splen­didly clothed, be­cause none – the em­peror in­cluded – wanted to ad­mit that they were so un­wor­thy as to not see the bright col­ors and fine threads. Only the char­ac­ter­is­tic blunt­ness of a child, who pro­claimed the em­peror’s nu­dity as he pa­raded through the streets hu­mil­i­at­ing him­self and his king­dom, threat­ened to break the spell. But when the boy spoke out he was quickly re­buked by his fa­ther, who as­sured the gasp­ing pub­lic that the child was clearly soft in the head. So pow­er­ful is the com­pul­sion to nor­mal­ize the pow­er­ful.

With Don­ald Trump about to as­cend to the White House, the me­dia risk be­ing tamed by their de­vo­tion to ac­cess and the bel­ligeren­cies of the no­to­ri­ously venge­ful res­i­dent of Trump Tower and his right-wing wreck­ing crew of a team. We face a sin­gu­lar test, both as a pro­fes­sion and as a coun­try: will we al­low our­selves to see what we see, or will we men­tally drape the naked em­peror in our midst?

Trump is be­set by clear and alarm­ing con­flicts be­tween his in­ter­na­tional business con­cerns and the na­tional in­ter­est. In just the two weeks since the vot­ers de­liv­ered him a nar­row Elec­toral Col­lege vic­tory, he has openly met with his In­dian business part­ners; put his daugh­ter on the phone with for­eign lead­ers; dan­gled an un­avail­able am­bas­sador­ship to his UK po­lit­i­cal dop­pel­ganger Nigel Farage and si­mul­ta­ne­ously pushed Farage to help kill a wind farm project that would mar his Scot­tish golf course view. His leased D.C. ho­tel in­side the old Post Of­fice has be­come a prime des­ti­na­tion for those seek­ing a way to curry fa­vor with the in­com­ing pres­i­dent by slid­ing their credit cards at check­out time.

Real ques­tions are be­ing raised about pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tions of the Con­sti­tu­tion’s emol­u­ments clause, and there’s more to come. Trump is bat­tling Wash­ing­ton D.C. over taxes owed by the ho­tel, which he leases from the same fed­eral gov­ern­ment he will soon lead. The LPGA will in months host a golf tour­na­ment on a course branded with the pres­i­dent’s name. Trump re­mains the sub­ject of nu­mer­ous law­suits, on­go­ing ques­tions about his self-deal­ing “char­ity,” and an al­leged IRS au­dit (he will soon ap­point the head of the agency). He only re­cently (and al­legedly) di­vested him­self of a sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment in the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line that he will soon have a hand in re­solv­ing through his com­mand of the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers. And there are lin­ger­ing ques­tions as to whether he sex­u­ally ha­rassed or as­saulted women, and per­haps more to the point: how many. And th­ese are just a hand­ful of the per­sonal and le­gal quag­mires he faces.

Add to that the alarm­ing con­sen­sus of ex­perts re­gard­ing ex­ten­sive Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the U.S. elec­tion through the pump­ing of fake news and pro­pa­ganda into the coun­try’s dig­i­tal blood­stream, and the un­prece­dented in­ter­ven­tion of the FBI within two weeks of the vot­ing, and se­ri­ous ques­tions of ba­sic le­git­i­macy shroud the in­com­ing pres­i­dent, who lost the pop­u­lar vote by more than 2 mil­lion votes and count­ing.

And de­spite Jill Stein’s self-pro­mo­tional foray into ma­chine-rig­ging con­spir­acy the­o­ries, which hap­pen to dis­tract from real ques­tions about voter dis­en­fran­chise­ment and sup­pres­sion, Trump is likely to sur­vive the three­state re­count chal­lenges. The Elec­toral Col­lege is un­likely to take the ad­vice of le­gal schol­ars who have called on them to choose the per­son who got mil­lions more votes to be the pres­i­dent.

Trump will, bar­ring cir­cum­stances that are at this stage un­fore­see­able, be sworn in as the coun­try’s 45th pres­i­dent on Jan­uary 20.

The worst case sce­nario for the next four years is daunt­ing: a coun­try sink­ing into klep­toc­racy, with its nat­u­ral re­sources, parks and lands carved up and sold off by Trump and his bil­lion­aire cab­i­net to the high­est bid­der with fat tax cred­its to boot; Medi­care and other beloved so­cial safety net pro­grams dis­man­tled along with Oba­macare and its pro­tec­tions for 20 mil­lion peo­ple; a Jus­tice De­part­ment sow­ing fear rather than con­fi­dence in communities of color; ter­ri­fied im­mi­grants and Mus­lims re­ly­ing on Demo­cratic may­ors as their only shield; and an in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity left hor­ri­fied by an Amer­ica that seems to have lost both its soul and its mind.

If that’s what’s com­ing, be­ware of the fic­tions that are sure to come with it; lit­tle lies that salve your dis­con­tent, but that ob­scure the re­al­i­ties that be­come more and more un­pop­u­lar to speak of.

Don­ald Trump will en­ter of­fice as the most un­pop­u­lar in­com­ing pres­i­dent since Gallup be­gan keep­ing track with Harry Tru­man; and the only one to en­ter with a neg­a­tive ap­proval rat­ing. For com­par­i­son, Barack Obama

en­tered of­fice with an ap­proval rat­ing of 68 per­cent and a +41 pos­i­tive spread. Ge­orge W. Bush, even after the dis­puted 2000 elec­tion, came in at 59 per­cent fa­vor­able. That was one point higher than Bill Clin­ton man­aged in 1992, and with just 36 per­cent view­ing Bush un­fa­vor­ably. Had Hil­lary Clin­ton been on her way to the White House, you would have been re­minded of her neg­a­tive ap­proval rat­ings – which were not as bad as Trump’s – every day.

In­stead, you will be told that Trump’s “im­prove­ment” from a his­tor­i­cally dis­mal 34 per­cent fa­vor­a­bil­ity to an equally un­prece­dented 42 per­cent fa­vor­able, 55 per­cent un­fa­vor­able is “good news.” Trump is re­viled around the world. Bri­tish tele­vi­sion openly de­rided him as the “pussy grab­ber” when I vis­ited there last week. He is the ob­ject of mock­ery and loathing. While Barack Obama and Hil­lary Clin­ton both in­spired con­fi­dence across Europe, Trump did and does not. Un­der Pres­i­dent Obama, Amer­ica’s image in the world im­proved dra­mat­i­cally, and he main­tains high rat­ings at home and abroad. Much of the world looks on in hor­ror on what Amer­ica’s un­demo­cratic sys­tem has wrought, and they’re cling­ing to Ger­many’s An­gela Merkel as the new leader of the West.

You, how­ever, may be told that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is com­ing around to Trump; a few for­eign trips by him or his sec­re­tary of state and he’ll be fine. You may be asked to be­lieve that some­how and sud­denly, an in­ner states­man who hasn’t shown him­self in 70 years will crawl out of Trump’s enor­mous frame.

Over time, Stephen Ban­non, who turned a right-wing web­site that was merely an­gry and dis­hon­est when founder An­drew Breitbart was alive into a home for white na­tion­al­ists, may be al­lowed to morph into a per­fectly in­nocu­ous ad­viser. No no­tice will be taken when he smirks be­side Nikki Ha­ley, Ben Car­son and what­ever other prac­ti­tion­ers of pure self-in­ter­est choose to stand uniron­i­cally at his side. You may be pre­sented with the idea that his pres­ence does not be­foul the White House, when it does. The racially hos­tile views of Ses­sions, Kobach, Gi­u­liani, and Trump him­self may be­gin to fade into bland ob­scu­rity.

For the good of the coun­try, here’s hop­ing enough peo­ple re­sist what is cur­rently be­com­ing the norm in main­stream me­dia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.