Bob McWilliams; Bob McWilliams
Hey, did you hear that Donald Trump is running for president of the United States? How could you miss it? Trump has become the darling of the liberal media, who use him as a way to slather all of the Republican Party with allegations of anything that doesn’t fit their progressive or politically correct view of the world. The new format for covering the 2016 presidential election is to see what the Donald said last night, de facto declare it cruel or crazy, then run around to every other Republican candidate and ask him to denounce Trump.
Conversely, Democrat and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a self-declared socialist, one who’s now within spitting distance of Hillary Clinton in key battleground states, can spout off about all manner of things, ideas that many might call “crazy talk,” and the media don’t blink an eye. For example, a recent headline in The Washington Post read “The Trump clown show,” whereas, the Los Angeles Times characterizes Bernie Sanders like this: ” Bernie Sanders’socialism may have mainstream appeal.”
It’s an interesting, albeit not surprising, study in how the mainstream media put their finger on the scale with respect to covering political campaigns. Sanders and Trump represent two extremes: Sanders lines up on the side of socialism, and the opposite of socialism is essentially unfettered capitalism, a position Trump has come to symbolize.
Granted, neither Trump nor Sanders will ever call the White House home, but as President Barack Obama likes to say, the press should “play it straight” and treat both candidates with the same degree of skepticism.
The problem for Trump and the Republicans is twofold. First, the personal political views for 95 percent of the mainstream media are somewhere to the left ofHillary Clinton, and not all that far from the political and social architecture preferred by Sanders, a design that has given us great success stories likeGreece. As a result, his ideas aren’t that far out there for a crowd that is still pining for Elizabeth Warren.
Second, Trump is an easy target. His bombastic style is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. On the positive side, the public is drawn to someone who comes right out and says what a lot of people might be thinking. Trump doesn’t bother with focus- group testing; he just lets it rip, and that kind of loose talk will get you nailed by the media, especially one that’s already predisposed to label you a buffoon.
If you’re a Republican and you say something that’s the least bit short of what the media define as politically correct, or take a position that they consider intellectually shallow, the long knives come out, not only for the offending candidate, but for all conservatives and the entire Republican Party.
Sanders writes a story fantasizing about rape, and the media grudgingly cover it as an irrelevant issue. However, if any Republican had done the same, that candidate would be toast, the transgression would be automatically extended to all other Republican candidates, and stories about a war on women would lead the headlines for weeks to come.
The double standard by so-called journalists is really quite breathtaking. Joe Biden does or says something stupid, and it’s just Joe being Joe. Clinton goes through verbal gymnastics to tell a lie, without technically lying, and it’s just how the Clintons are. Lincoln Chafee launches his presidential campaign with a bold new initiative on the metric system, and it’s off the radar screen for the crowd that took such delight in lampooning Sarah Palin.
We all agree that elections should be fair and free. The free part isn’t a problem. But so long as the media continue to ignore their professional and ethical obligations, the fair part is a bit more problematic.
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