To paraphrase Michael Corleone, every time I think I’ve gotten away from having to comment on the extraordinary unethical performance of the national media toward the President, they puuuull me back in.
What is the correct and fair reaction to the latest media cheap shot on the President of the United States? This one would have been contemptible to inflict on a candidate before the election; now, almost three months after it, the feature is something to behold. Godwin’s Law is invoked far too often, but in this case, it tells the tale.
Esquire’s embarrassing article is called “20 Essential Books to Prepare You for What’s Next: A handy reading list featuring not-so-speculative dystopian fiction, political memoirs, and cautionary tales from Nazi Germany.” The point being made, of course, though already hackneyed, dishonest and thoroughly debunked, is that the President is Hitler. This contention requires ignorance of the United States culture and institutions, Germany, world history, Hitler and the President, but never mind: hate and fear is all the article is intended to generate, not perception or understanding. Taking it seriously requires blocking out the fact that it is the President’s opponents who are flirting with totalitarian methods, using violence to stifle dissent, trying to overthrow lawful elections, calling for coups, and co-opting the news media. The list is an insult without substantiation or justification; Esquire might just as well have published a full page reading: “The President of the United States is a Poopy-Face, and We Hate Him!” There is no substantive difference.
For anyone who has read the books and is not deranged regarding the President to the point of delusion, Esquire’s book list is kind of hilarious. “1984,” for example, is a vision of Soviet-style totalitarianism, with a news media that distorts facts to support a political party similar to the way our current news media manipulates it against the current administration, but previously did to bolster the Obama. Indeed, Esquire’s book list itself is Orwellian, using mass communication to control public opinion with deception, emotion and fear.
Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here” was considered hysterical when it was written in the Thirties. Including “The Handmaiden’s Tale” as a guide to “what happens next” is about as silly an example of fearmongering as one could imagine:
“Imagine a world in which an elite group of men had absolute power over women’s reproductive rights. Takes less mental acrobatics than it used to, doesn’t it? Though it’s long been a potent allegory for the ways in which women are forced to find agency in a male-dominated world, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel is now essential reading, thanks to the presence of an alleged sexual predator and a pro-life zealot in the White House.”
Funny, nobody imagined such things when Democrats had a proven sexual predator in the White House. (Which one, you ask? Now, now: JFK wasn’t proven so until after he was President, not that the proof has stopped him from still being lionized as a liberal icon.) How does the President qualify as a “pro-life zealot”? Why, don’t you understand? Anyone who is against abortion on demand is a zealot, but a pro-abortion advocate who believes in late term abortions up to delivery (aka “infanticide”) or who regards abortion as “joyful” is a feminist. Back to reality: if the President were a “ a pro-life zealot,” I assume he would have appointed a Supreme Court Justice with some track record of being anti-abortion, and who had expressed approval for SCOTUS overturning established law, like Roe v.Wade. Never mind: you are obviously not supposed to think very hard about any of this.
Then we have Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” about an environmental catastrophe even worse than the one Al Gore promised we would be in the middle of already. Yup, that’s “next,” no question about it. In “Jennifer Government,”
“…the U.S. has taken control of most of the Western Hemisphere, eliminating the need for international trade, and the world is run by for-profit corporations as the government is left with very little power. Everything is now privatized—with taxes abolished, the government has no funding with which to implement law, and crimes are only investigated if the victim or their family pays for it.”
Sure, that’s “not-so-speculative”!
The rest of the list, and Esquire’s hyper-partisan descriptions of them, is just as absurd and batty. “The Hunger Games?” The Hunger Games? Oh, I get it: Trump had a reality TV show,see, so soon he will convert the whole country into a dystopian nightmare where elaborate gladiatorial fights to the death are employed to pacify the starving underclass! Sure! That’s next! Makes perfect sense. Better impeach the monster before it can happen!
Over at Althouse, whose blog brought Esquire’s insane hit piece to my attention, readers were offered a poll asking what the point of the list was. “Just read the LIST, not the books. The list exists to say that Trump is a fascist” and “To stimulate hysteria and paranoia in the people to make us malleable for manipulation” had a combined response of 97%. The result is encouraging: maybe people who are not crippled by hate, ignorance or bias can see through this garbage, even after months of bilious propaganda.
Today also saw the release of a couple of polls showing that, the news media happily informs us, this President has the lowest approval rate of any POTUS in his first two weeks. Gee, I wonder why that is? The entire exercise of denigrating and slandering the President of the United States without pause or justification is designed to create mass confirmation bias in as many gullible and easily confused Americans as possible, so literally anything he says or does will be seen as ominous.
Doing this to your own nation’s leader is so unfair, irresponsible and hateful, and so blatantly bad citizenship, that calling it merely unethical is a gift.