During a violent storm here in Alexandra, with the internet going in and out, my wife and I gave up and watched “Spotlight” again, an ethics movie, and a genuinely heroic story about journalists doing their jobs, informing the public, exposing popular institutions. Those were the days. The ending speech, where the Boston Globe’s editor talks in high-minded terms about the reason journalism is worth the effort, made me physically nauseous. The profession he described is virtually unrecognizable from what I see on CNN, Fox News, NPR, the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Almost immediately after, I read a column in the Times from two days ago, in the Arts section. It’s a periodic feature by John Williams where he interviews an author, “5 Things About Your Book.” This time he was talking to Larry Tye, whose biography of Joe McCarthy has just been published. The cut line read that Larry Tye “discusses his biography of that American bully, and an eerie echo.”
Having read the Times for the last four years and watched with admiration how it can toss gratuitous insults and sinister innuendoes about President Trump in any context no matter how remote, from book reviews to cooking columns to fashion essays. I was certain what the “eerie echo” would be. Joe McCarthy was a bad guy, so the article would show how much Donald Trump is like Joe McCarthy.
For the nonce, I will ignore that salient fact that it is “the resistance,” the Democrats and the anti-Trump media, which is to say, the media, that have been using relentless McCarthyite tactics against the President from before he was elected.
So where was this eerie echo of Trump in the life of “Tail-gunner Joe”? Here’s Tye’s shocking illumination of that question:
I knew there was a general link between Senator McCarthy and President Trump, but I didn’t realize how eerily echoing it was.
Huh? What “general connection”? The Senator died in 1957, when Trump was 10. How can you have a “general connection” with someone who isn’t in your family, you never met, and whom you didn’t know anything about at all until well after he died?
That’s smear #1. Here’s smear #2:
I had exclusive access to all of McCarthy’s professional and personal papers. And in secret transcripts of closed-door hearings, I realized that if you crossed out McCarthy’s name, you would think you were listening to our 45th president.
What does that even mean? That McCarthy spoke like Trump? He didn’t. That he had similar ideas about the Red Scare? The Red Scare was all but over by the time Donald Trump was out of his teens. This nasty assertion is made without any support whatsoever, but as usual, the Times, and Tye, counts on its largely Trump Deranged readership to accept it on faith. Of course Trump sounds like McCarthy! Also like Simon Legree, George Wallace, Adolf Hitler, Son of Sam and Dracula.
No, Tye does have an example of how much Donald Trump is like Joe McCarthy! This:
In 2016, Trump famously boasted: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Where did he get that idea? Well, exactly 62 years before, George Gallup, the polling pioneer, wrote something chillingly similar about McCarthy’s supporters: “Even if it were known that McCarthy had killed five innocent children, they would probably still go along with him.”
There it is! The smoking gun! Why, the men were like twins separated at birth! Trump said something (in obvious jest, but the rules are that everything he says must be taken literally) that sounded like something George Gallup said ABOUT McCarthy, and that Trump almost certainly never read. Eerie!
Trump’s boast isn’t particularly original: I’ve heard and read similar statements dozens of times though the years, and I’ve said similar things myself. I’ll do it right now: Joe Biden could have raped a woman, and it still wouldn’t cost him any votes. Wait, does that make me like Joe McCarthy, or Joe Biden like Joe McCarthy? Or Joe Biden like Donald Trump? I would say that it makes me like George Gallup, but it sure is eerie.
Virtually every day, in stories in media sources across the country, the public is bombarded with such forced, intellectually dishonest propaganda, never stopped or moderated by responsible editors, created solely to undermine the public’s opinion of the President of the United States. The journalists from “Spotlight,” with their values, would be investigating that.
Their successors are participating in the scandal.