If Hillary Clinton becomes the 45th U.S. president, the 2016 election will be remembered as one in which much of the mainstream media all but admitted aligning itself with the Democratic Party. Having said that, there are ample reasons for Americans — even those who don’t believe the Fourth Estate should take sides the way it has — to vote against Donald Trump.
Just off the top of my head, here are 10:
1. You don’t like the way he treats or talks about women. 2. Electing the first female U.S. president in history excites you. 3. You’re a conservative unconvinced that the thrice-married Trump is a sincere convert to your cause. 4. You find his comments on race, ethnicity and religion insensitive — or worse. 5. He sounds woefully uninformed about domestic and foreign policy. 6. He often does not tell the truth. 7. He lacks the qualifications, having never held government office. 8. You think Trump is an overrated, perhaps shady, businessman. 9. It bothers you that he brags about his wealth, while refusing to release his taxes. 10. He can’t pronounce China or Nevada.
OK, the last one was in jest, although Lord knows the media are having fun with The Donald’s tomato-tomahto routine about Nevada. But the media’s partisanship this year is no joke. The nation’s most prominent news outlets appear to be in a Trump-bashing competition.
The Washington Post calls Trump (but never Clinton) a liar in ostensibly straight news stories; its columnists, left, right and center, routinely take aim at Trump supporters; the paper termed Trump “a unique and present danger” in an editorial it published during the Republican convention. This was comparatively measured prose: An earlier Post editorial compared Trump to Stalin and Pol Pot.
The New York Times editorial board was also not content to merely endorse Clinton: It used a separate editorial solely to excoriate Trump, “the worst” presidential nominee in modern history, while saying that Americans leaning toward him have “an obligation” to reconsider. The Times published a front page essay essentially arguing that covering the 2016 election even-handedly is “an abdication” of a higher principle.
The star outlets of the New Media are even more unfettered. After fact-checking both candidates for a week, Politico introduced its findings thusly. “The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.”
That’s not how journalists traditionally present facts, but it was restrained compared to The Huffington Post, which announced in 2015 it wouldn’t cover Trump. When that became untenable, it resumed covering him, but now ends every Trump story with an editor’s note calling him “a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist…” There’s more, but perhaps you get the idea.
This is not traditional journalism. It’s a kind of open advocacy that makes perennial Republican Party complaints about liberal bias seem quaint. It also makes large swaths of the media indistinguishable from Democrats.
Perhaps Trump has earned every bit of this opprobrium, but I have a question. If Trump is so horrible — so far beyond the pale — why do his critics find it necessary to twist his words, characterize everything he does in the least charitable light, pretend they don’t know when he’s kidding, and exaggerate their own records?
Want examples? They’re everywhere.
In his debate with Trump running mate Mike Pence, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine repeatedly asserted that Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration had “ended” Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This is not a claim even made by John Kerry — the secretary of state who actually negotiated the deal after Clinton left.
Kaine did this kind of thing all night. He said that 15 million new jobs have been created during the Obama administration. The real number is 10.5 million. He said that both Trump and Pence “think we ought to eliminate the federal minimum wage.” Actually, Trump said once that states should set the minimum wage, although he said subsequently there should be a federal minimum wage and that “it has to go up.”
The Democratic vice presidential nominee repeated an assertion made by California Sen. Barbara Boxer at the party’s convention: that Trump and Pence want “to punish” women who have abortions. Trump was baited by Chris Matthews into saying “there has to be some form of punishment” for abortion, but he rescinded that statement within hours. And Pence has never said anything of the sort.
Hillary Clinton goes around saying Trump believes it’s “dangerous” for wives to work outside the home. Trump often says odd and uncharitable things about women, but Clinton has deliberately misconstrued his words. Trump did say, in a 1994 ABC interview, that “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” but he said it in response to a question about why his marriage to Ivana Trump failed — he was describing the problem of putting his wife in charge of one of his casinos so that he was, in effect, her boss.
“If you’re in business for yourself,” he said, “I really think it’s a bad idea to put your wife working for you,” he said. “I think that was the single greatest cause of what happened to my marriage with Ivana.”
It was one of the few times Trump has sounded remotely reflective. But in the Democrats’ telling, it was one more example of Trump being a sexist pig.
Just last week, he expressed solicitude for military veterans with PTSD, and vowed as president to make helping them a priority of his presidency. But because he spoke — as Trump often does — in the vernacular, instead of the lingo of health professionals, Democrats and the press pounced. Trump was called any manner of names by Democrats (Joe Biden said he was “ignorant”) and liberal journalists, and the veterans they stirred up pretended they didn’t know Trump’s heart was in the right place.
Politics ain’t beanbag, as the old saying goes, but Americans’ loathing of politics-as-usual is precisely why Donald Trump became an unlikely presidential nominee this year, and if the Democrats and their media allies think Trump is Frankenstein, they ought to consider their own role in creating him. They might want to consider another thing, too. “Whoever fights monsters,” Friedrich Nietzsche cautioned, “should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.”