“A republic, if you can keep it.”
“Little Rocket Man” or “the perfect call” now seem almost innocuous.
What’s really worrisome is how this vain, rogue president’s bullsh*t pulpit is currently being utilized. Impulsive, deceitful, misleadingly narcissist responses to reporters during a national and global crisis–after having ineptly presided over a manifestly negligent coronavirus preparation–should be an impeachable offense. It’s costing lives. It’s hardly coincidental that the White House pandemic office was disbanded in 2018, and that Trump cut funding for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and shut down the global-health-security unit of the National Security Council. It was all unnecessary “overhead” to a “stable genius” businessman with other base-promised, budget priorities.
I watched the press-conference interaction between NBC’s Peter Alexander and the Fabulist-in-chief. Alexander was channeling most Americans when he asked what the president would say to all those Americans marooned at home and frightened by the unknown. In response, Trump wasn’t the avatar of calm and information; he didn’t exactly channel FDR or Barack Obama. More like Neville Chamberlain meets Richard Nixon. That’s because Trump doesn’t do “reassurance,” except when self-servingly misrepresenting what Dr. Anthony Fauci really thinks, which should be a pandemic high crime.
He doesn’t do “fireside chats”–more like flamethrower clamor. He doesn’t use the mass media to inform and reassure, he abuses it to demonize, scapegoat and elude responsibility, which should qualify as no less than an unconscionable misdemeanor of unpatriotic self service.
Back to the press conference. Trump’s message to anxious Americans yearning for factual information, compassion and trust: “I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” responded Trump to Alexander. “I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism.”
Granted, Alexander’s question wasn’t without a trace of “gotcha.” It comes with the medium. But it also comes with presidential accountability. It should be POTUS 101; presidents, of all people, ought to know how to handle incoming–especially when they’re speaking directly to the American people during a national, let alone global, emergency. No matter who asked the question; no matter how it was asked. But as we’ve been continuously reminded: You can’t fake class, competence and trustworthiness.
Here’s a suggestion: Mainstream media should stop covering live this Trump exercise in state propaganda. It’s a forum for misinformation that enables avoidable death. Recall how the media helped elect Trump, who was perversely “great copy,” by covering his wise-guy rallies and interrupting regular programming so the network could go live for more “Enemy of the people,” “Lock her up” rhetoric. Now, this unhinged charlatan is actually president, and what he says matters so much more than during his Rev. Jim Jones-as-presidential-candidate rallies. In short, mainstream media should stop live coverage because the truth matters. Now more than ever.