17 November 2016

Our Narcissistic Press

Donald Trump is an iconoclast who blithely ignores the norms of civil society.

It appears that the only time that the press cares about this is when he President elect ditches the 4th estate for a steak dinner:
On Tuesday night, Donald Trump committed a huge no-no. This was nothing trivial like empowering white hate groups or waging public and legal vendettas against his enemies—he’s been doing those things all along. For the first time since winning the presidency last week, he sneaked away from the pool of reporters tasked with knowing his whereabouts all day every day to dine at a fancy Manhattan steak house.

This may sound like a minor infraction, but it is actually a matter of incredible importance, as many journalists have explained in the hours since.

Trump had traduced yet another vital norm, except instead of simply noting an objection to the violation, and assuming the importance of the broken protocol, reporters have been at pains to defend it. ………


When Trump announced that white nationalist publisher Steve Bannon would be his chief strategist next year, the political media wasn’t entirely sure how to process it. Early reports depicted Bannon, the executive chairman of the racist agitprop website Breitbart, not as a hero figure to white supremacists and neo-Nazis but as a “combative” strategist or a “conservative firebrand.”


For most readers here, and probably for most Americans, it’s self-evident why the “no white supremacists in the White House” norm should stand. People generally grasp that racism is a horrifying value, even if they’re unfamiliar with the kind of violence and subjugation that occurred when white supremacists controlled government in the past.
The author, Brian Beutler, goes on to exhort that the press observe when norms are being violated and explaining why this is a bad thing.

He's an optimist, and I am a pessimist, so I see it as efidence of an insular and cynical press which is only concerned about the violation of norms when it's their ox that is gored.

We saw this in 2009 when Republicans decided to filibuster everything coming down the pipe in the Senate, and within a few weeks, the reporting was that 60 votes were required for passage.

We also saw this with torture, signing statements, and a whole range of other mischief.

I do not expect this to change, particularly given increasingly corporate nature of the major news outlets and the decades of working the refs by Republican operatives.

I expect to see the press swooning over some staged commander codpiece moment engineered by Trump's at some point in the next 18 months.

It's the sort of bullsh%$ that the press eats up: It's easy writing for the reporter, and click bait for the publisher.


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