Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Thoughts on the President's Nightly Campaign Rallies

There is--in the wider culture, that is, the culture existing outside the walls of my quarantined existence--a debate underway. On the one side are those who believe that the White House Press Corps and the cable news networks are obligated by their craft to cover live each night the 90-120 minute press conferences conducted by the White House. On the other hand are those who believe that these 90-120 minute circuses are simply Trumpy campaign rallies, and by covering them live as they do, the media are providing the President with tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free media. I fall into the second category for those who are curious.

Now, there are clearly people who fit in neither of these categories, but nowhere do I say that this debate includes all Americans. There are those who simply don't care, which astounds me. And there are those who think the rallies are wonderful and why would the press not cover them? This repulses me. So I'm not talking here about either of these two groups.

I'm talking about two groups of people who have differing views on the role of the media and their obligation--if any--to cover all of the President's appearances.

One of the things that occurs to me as I wade through this is the correlation between those who believe the press has a duty to cover these events and those who believe the press treat the President unfairly in these events. Lotta overlap here. The crew at Commentary magazine and specifically in their podcast --- fall into this category. They've become more Trumpy during the course of this pandemic (especially John Podhoretz and Noah Rothman), expressing utter amazement that anyone would suggest that the press not cover these events live, at the same time deriding the press for the "gotcha" coverage thereof, as if they are supposed to do as the President asks and ask nice questions framed in the manner he desires, while avoiding any reference to the utter failure of leadership for which he was responsible throughout the entire month of February and the farrago of lies, inconsistency, and incompetence that has dominated his nightly performances. The President veers from being a petulant child to a volatile monarch, talking over reporters and insulting them at every turn--but woe betide a reporter who stands there and unwaveringly continues to ask their question --especially if----SHE IS A WOMAN!  The nerve.

On the bright side there is some evidence that these nightly exercises in Trumpenproletarian group masturbation---carried live--- are having a deleterious impact on the President's standing with voters. Joe Biden's relative silence these days is chalked up by some to be a sign of there not really being much he can do, what with the country being locked down and all (which is also hurting his fund raising). I see it differently. I think old Uncle Joe is sitting there in his Delaware villa watching the President shoot himself in the foot every night and thinking about Napoleon's dictum never to interrupt one's enemy while he is making a mistake.

And so as I think about this subject, I reluctantly come down on the side of the press covering it as it is, in no small part because I believe in Napoleon's wisdom too. That and a naive hope that the size of the Trumpenproletariat has reached its zenith, and that Trump's nightly tantrums are convincing those who held their nose for him in '16 because of Hillary's odiousness,  that doing so in '20 is unthinkable due to Trump's. We can hope, anyway.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good piece today. I found you because I'm a huge sailing/boating fan and stumbled across your 2017 write up of the USS Fitzgerald collision near Japan.

It is hard to believe when these types of accidents happen but as you said "humans are involved" so they are inevitable.

Thank you for your service!

Sail on,
Steve Ward,
Austin, TX USA

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