Even with the GOP set to nominate a crypto-fascist, commentators decline to recognize the party’s reactionary nature
The media’s mea culpa season is in full bloom this spring as analysts and commentators step ahead to acknowledge that with Donald Trump effectively requisitioning the Republican nomination, they were frequently very wrong in forecasting his political ruin.
Certain that he was an outlier fluke who could not uphold his popularity – let alone nail down a major party nomination – the Beltway media routinely missed the Trump surge for months, and often did so in bold manner:
*”Why no one should take Donald Trump seriously” (Washington Post)
*“Donald Trump’s surge in the polls has followed the classic pattern of a media-driven surge. Now it will most likely follow the classic pattern of a party-backed decline.” (New York Times)
*“No, he won’t win the Republican nomination for president.” (ABC News)
Credit at this point goes to journalists who have stepped forward to confess their mistakes and present news consumers some direction as to why commentators probably misread the Trump campaign.
Some reasons presented include, Republican elites failed to successfully coalesce around an anti-Trump candidate. The news media effectively sponsored Trump’s campaign with an freakish amount of free exposure. And Republican voters did not penalize Trump for his noticeable policy flip-flops.
Note that there is nothing inherently wrong with being incorrect about campaigns, supposing estimations are made in good faith. And this Trump misfire certainly is not going to, nor should it, stop commentators and prognosticators from trying to peer into the future.
But there is a issue if the media’s elite class will not understand how one of America’s two major parties functions currently. It’s problematic if the GOP’s gone through an ugly transformation, which creates a Trump nominee, and the political press is too fearful or too disconnected to precisely document that radical makeover.
And in the situation of Trump that denial appears to have been widespread. Such as, much of the information pointed to a Trump win for a very long time. “Trump was a stronger candidate than anyone wanted to admit,” the Huffington Post recently mentioned. “He skyrocketed to the top of an incredibly crowded pack soon after announcing he was running.”
Resisting those hard details, many journalists clung to the concept that Trump was basically too out-there to become the nominee; too extreme, reckless, and garish for a major party nominee.
And that’s still the issue today. Lots of media analysts still overlook a central reason for why they missed the Trump surge, and they are still not acknowledging what is driving his success: The truly radical nature of today’s Republican Party and its right-wing voter base.
You know, the conservative movement that cheered Glenn Beck when he labeled the president of the United States a “racist“; that supported right-wing boasts that president Obama was a tyrant who needs to be impeached. (And that he was foreign-born.) The movement that centers around Rush Limbaugh, who claimed that if Obama weren’t black he’d be working as a tour guide in Hawaii, not sitting in the Oval Office, and who was adamant Obama ran for office because he resents white America and wants to score some payback.
And it is a Republican Party that has fundamentally shut down the U.S. Congress, rather than legislate with Obama. It’s a party currently that abstains to hold hearings for the president’s highly qualified Supreme Court nominee.
Honestly, that is what the Republican Party has become in recent years, but the press has primarily held its tongue about the nasty makeover. And in the process, the press overlooked the Trump surge, which rode that radical GOP wave.
The collective, years-long turning of a blind eye shows to me just how critical it is for the Beltway press to maintain a symmetrical equilibrium between Democrats and Republicans. It exhibits how the press continues to be married to the concept that the two parties are simply mirror images of each other, occupying different ends of the political spectrum. That for however far to the edge Republicans shift, Democrats are sure to reciprocate. It is the Both Sides Are To Blame syndrome, quite simply.
And there is great ease in that for the press. Because if you call out Republicans as radical, or note that the ugly nature at the base of the GOP could effortlessly propel Trump to a nomination victory, that means the press has to break from the safety of the Both Sides plot. That then opens the press up to “liberal media bias” denunciations from the right.
So which is more painful, being taunted with claims of liberal bias, or misreading a presidential campaign season for ten months?