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Friday, October 20, 2017

Spy magazine got it right more than two decades ago: Donald Trump is simply a short-fingered vulgarian.

For any remaining non-believers, this week’s released tape of Trump boasting about his sexual predator behavior eliminated any real doubts. (“Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” and “Grab them by the pussy.”)

In the wake of the ground-shaking campaign bombshell, the Republican Party now faces a political crisis the likes of which it probably has not seen since the days of Watergate. In terms of a political party openly at war with its presidential nominee one month before Election Day, as a GOP chorus grows demanding Trump step aside, there’s simply no precedent for this in modern American politics.

How did the Republican Party arrive at this cratered-out low point? Simple — this is what happens when conservatives feast exclusively on Fox News gobbledygook for years, especially for the last eight years under President Barack Obama. It’s what happens when you abandon policy, when you abandon common sense, and when you abandon hope in favor of vulgarity as a party platform.

This Trump fiasco was telegraphed months ago. All of it. It simply wasn’t possible that a vainglorious narcissist like Trump, deeply uninterested in how the world works, would be able to pull off a presidential election campaign without revealing his true identity.

The best case scenario was that Trump would run as sort of a bombastic and obnoxious Mitt Romney, lose, but not do serious lasting damage to the Republican Party. The far more likely scenario, and the one that’s unfolding during the final weeks, was that Trump would reveal himself to be a pathological liar and disturbed sexual predator who thinks fame gives him a license to assault and harass women.

Think about that: The GOP nominated a pathological liar whose moments of truth seem to be when he brags about his sexual predator habits. And even then, when audio and video proof finally confirmed what was long suspected, prominent Fox News hosts immediately sprang into spin control mode, while far-out Fox guests uttered bizarre statements.

Gina Louden: “No one was raped, nobody has died.”

Dinesh D’Souza: “In my entire adult lifetime but never before have I seen the media so aggressively huffing and puffing to drag this crooked hag across the finish line.”

The simple truth is the GOP followed Fox News into the ethical and moral abyss long ago. And the GOP did so willingly. Seduced by the millions of dollars (billions of dollars?) worth of free airtime that Fox News provides the party each year, and aroused by the channel’s unvarnished hate rhetoric and its fever swamp attacks, Republicans abdicated party leadership to the now-disgraced Roger Ailes, who then turned around and helped crown Trump the Fox News mascot/presidential nominee.

This train wreck, this dumpster fire, this…..thing now on display in the form of the Trump campaign represents the logical conclusion for a party that decided to walk away from governance and embrace the bottom-of-the-barrel offerings cooked up by Fox News. For a party that opted to nominate in Trump someone who scooped up all that Fox hate rhetoric and made it the very cornerstone of his campaign. And yes, that includes dangerous insurrectionism and the racist smear that Obama is a foreign-born terrorist sympathizer.

Lots of Republicans have since stood by Trump despite the fact he’s repeatedly denigrated women, African-Americans, Latinos, and the disabled, among others. That’s how the party arrived at its current crisis.

The funny thing is we tried to warn them.

Four years ago, I wrote about how Fox News was destroying the Republican Party. But no, back then I never imagined we’d be witnessing this kind of public disintegration of the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2016.

And that’s what makes this unraveling so stunning. It’s not that the campaign apparatus has fallen apart. It’s not that Trump’s team misread the electorate. It’s that the GOP candidate has fully revealed himself to be a loathsome person who has surrounded himself with equally loathsome people. First and foremost among them is former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who was forced out this summer amidst a sexual harassment firestorm.

Please keep in mind:

During July, we learned that women claimed men who worked in positions of power at Fox News (namely Ailes, but not exclusively) groped women, kissed women against their will, made wildly inappropriate sexual comments (“Are you wearing any panties? I wish you weren’t”), asked about female employees’ sex lives, pressured younger women to date older men in the office, made “jokes” about liking having women on their knees, promised promotions in exchange for sex, and cut short careers of women who took offense.

And yes, Fox News general counsel Dianne Brandi and Ailes’ deputy Bill Shine were accused of trying to cover up their former boss’ behavior. (Shine has since been promoted to Fox News co-president.)

Twenty years ago on Friday, the same day the predatory Trump tapes were released, Fox News made its national debut, on October 7, 1996. Over the last two decades Fox News has forever changed American politics. And right now, the Republican Party is paying the biggest price.

Reprinted by permission from Media Matters for America.

IMAGE: Former Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes, before he was ousted last summer.