Criminal law reform appears to be about to happen. It may not be all that we wanted, hoped for, but it’s better than nothing, and nothing is what we got from the last administration. But this post isn’t about H.R. 5682, the “First Step Act,” because there’s a squirrel named Trump that got in the way.
Why doesn’t the news media simply ignore Donald Trump? Or, at least, cover him far less? He thrives on the attention. Withhold your coverage and starve him of oxygen.
Liberals, frustrated by Trump and his dominance of the news cycle, often make this case to me.
Why don’t we in the media focus on other things, important policy issues, rather than on the last intemperate thing that Trump said or did?
The “me” is Charles Blow, and he offers a surprising prescription.
Remember that you can be thoroughly anti-Trump without being completely Trump-obsessed.
What makes this surprising is that there are few more Trump-obsessed than Blow, whose every column is about the horribleness of Trump as evidenced by his latest “intemperate thing.” At the same time, he rationalizes why the media can’t do otherwise than obsess on every burp and fart emitting from Darth Cheeto.
I understand the frustration, but I also know that what people are asking is, on the one hand, impossible and on the other hand, particularly in print, already happening, but not necessarily being elevated.
There is no way for the media — define media however you will — to simply ignore a sitting president of the United States. That would not only be a dereliction of duty, it would also be folly.
At what point does the daily, if not hourly, outrage suffice to make absolutely, positively, completely, totally crystal clear that he’s a vulgar, amoral ignoramous? If one was to quantify it, about 99% of the ridiculous nonsense coming from his twitter feed is meaningless. Most of it is unfiltered nonsense that never comes to fruition or obvious lies (or, being generous, a reflection of his spectacular ignorance of law, Constitution or governance) that can’t be taken seriously, except for the fact that they’re coming from the guy with the football.
To what end does the media need to obsess over the intemperate-overload coming out of D.C.? At what point have people endured enough outrage? There is a casualty here, a victim that Blow ignores. There are real things, serious things, happening that have an actual impact on people’s lives. And then there are the omnipresent twits of no account, which many suggest are just the president’s way of diverting the attention of the media, and hence the public, away from serious matters by twitting “SQUIRREL.”
Blow takes some blame, acknowledging that the media can do better, though he neglects to say how, but uses that to Gertrude his way to the real culprit in the Trump obsession cycle: us.
On the consumption side, we have also become governed by the gravity of the moment, and are so outraged by the dishonesty, villainy, corruption and divisiveness that we appear to be attracted, to a large degree, to that which underscores and feeds our fury.
They’re just giving us what we want, All Trump, All The Time, All The Outrage. It works for Rachel Maddow, apparently, so maybe he’s got a point. And some people who have spent their careers addressing hard, substantive issues, agree. I was taken to task the other day by someone with whom I’ve long been friends and respected.
Now that the Democrats have taken the House of Representative, what will they do with it? There were a flurry of announcements of committee investigations. Healthcare? Immigration? Budget? Criminal law reform? Nope. Investigations. Guess who was going to be investigated?
I reacted snarkily, in this instance about “incoming House intelligence chairman Adam Schiff said Democrats plan to investigate whether Trump used ‘the instruments of state power to punish the press’ — namely, CNN and the Washington Post.”
For that, I was scolded.
Oversight of the executive is a critical part of running the country. And I’d say a president threatening state punishment of a newspaper owner unless his paper covers the president favorably is an abuse of power worthy of investigation.
It’s not that this isn’t true, even if “oversight” is one of the vague words that usually goes nowhere, particularly when what was done happened in plain sight and will nonetheless evade any useful response, but is this “running the country” or perpetuating the Trump obsession? It’s not that it’s a bad thing, but is it a sufficient thing? Will the next year or two of House committee investigations into how horrible Trump is fix America’s problems? Sure, we all want Congress to subpoena Trump’s tax returns, but will that feed a hungry child or prevent a cop’s bullet from entering a black body?
I’ve been told by many old friends that I don’t hate Trump enough. I’ve been told that every decent person must call out his offenses, his intemperate remarks, his awful initiatives and his hateful rhetoric. And then, my old friends stopped telling me this, because they went dark on me, except for the occasional criticism of my failings to demonstrate my hate of Trump as much as they deem I should.
While Trump may be a complete ass for his refusal to muss what he claims is his hair in the French mist when he should have been present to honor the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, he just came out in support of the First Step Act, which actually does something to improve criminal law and will survive his administration, however long it will last.
Will the House of Representatives take the time to pass it into law, or will it be too preoccupied with holding hearings and issuing subpoenas into the awfulness of Trump? Even worse, will the new Democratic majority reject the bill because Trump supports it, and everyone knows how horrible he is. Will Charles Blow, who isn’t at all obsessed with Trump, acknowledge that even Darth Cheeto could get something right?