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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Throughout the election, critics often savaged the media for “normalizing Trump,” broadly defined as the act of treating his rank sexism, xenophobia and fascist dog-whistles as just another policy difference against equally valid opponents. This trend, borne largely by a combination of cognitive dissonance and access, is being accelerated now that Trump has won the election, and its continuation, if left unchecked, could undermine opposition for years to come.

Oprah Winfrey, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, said Trump’s recent visit to the White House gave her “hope” and suggested he has been “humbled” by the experience. The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins told his readers to “calm down” and that Trump wasn’t the “worst thing.” His college, Nouriel Roubini, insisted the Oval Office will “tame” Trump. People magazine ran a glowing profile of Trump and his wife Melania (though a former People writer accused Trump of sexual assault). The New York Times’ Nick Kristof dubiously added that we should “Grit our teeth and give Trump a chance.” The mainstays—Washington Post, New York Times and CNN—while frequently critical, are coving Trump’s transition as they would any other. President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have all issued statements recognizing Trump’s legitimacy and pleading we give him a chance.

Overall there’s a creeping sense that we’re stuck with Trump and we should make it “work” in some type of do-goody liberal appeal to patriotism.

But this is wrong, both tactically and ethically. Trump isn’t normal and he should never be treated as such, regardless of what President Obama and Clinton and Sanders say. These people are politicians, bound by a different covenant. The media, namely progressive media, is subject to no such charge. The overall message of normalizing Trump is that you can steamroll women, LGBT people, the disabled, Muslims, and people of color, yet everything will be okay so long as you win. Indeed, when asked if he thought his rhetoric had gone too far, Trump responded, “No, I won.” This is the logic of a fascist, and liberals are acquiescing to him by pivoting to “Trump as our kooky uncle” normalization mode.

In addition to it working in Trump’s favor in the present, it creates a moral hazard for all future Trumps: you can go as far right as you want and smear as many vulnerable populations you want, so long as you surpass 270 electoral votes come fall.

Had Trump lost, he would likely have been cast out of proper company, left to build his own Breitbart-like brand operating on the margins of acceptable opinion. Influential and profitable to be sure, but not mainstream. Political principles, to say nothing of morality, should not shift based on the outcome of an election. If Trump was a vulgar racist and sexual predator before November 8, he still is after, regardless of his new position.

So what to do?

Those not appealing to bromides about “working together” are staging massive protests throughout the country, from Austin to Portland to Kansas City to New York. As expected, the same pundit class that neither predicted nor adequately combated Trump’s rise are concern trolling those taking to the streets to show their revulsion. The Daily Show ran a boring segment hand-wringing over some overturned cars. New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait insisted the people shouldn’t denounce Trump the day after the election because it was “a little soon.” Too soon? Given the stakes, one is compelled to ask, why wait?

Israel has already signaled it will expand settlements with the blessing of the president-elect. The cabinet looks like it will be stuffed with unqualified Trump cronies. Virulently anti-poor people Paul Ryan has effectively been put in charge of budget priorities and is floating Medicare cuts. A climate change denier is selecting the head of the EPA. Why wait to use every available avenue to undermine Trump on the altar of civility?

Instead of appealing to civility or plotting a run four years down the road, pundits who truly want to undermine Trump as much as possible should spend more time supporting their local anti-Trump protests and far less time treating Trump like just another politician. The left can only combat Trump by leveraging both its political and activist wings, not indulging in Sorkinesque gestures of “working together.”

Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst at FAIR and contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.

IMAGE: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker/Files

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21 responses to “Right On Cue, Media Begins To Normalize Trump”

  1. BDD1951 says:

    There was only one person on TV that predicted that Trump would win. He predicted it back in August. I don’t remember his name. Guess what. He has made another prediction. He predicts that Trump will be impeached. Either for something he does that harms America or he does something that benefits only himself. We’ll see.

    • AgLander says:

      Well, we know for sure that YOU’D impeach him if you simply forgot where you placed your ex-lax!

      • TZToronto says:

        You’re someone who would have impeached President Obama for no reason at all (except the obvious) if you’d had the chance. I’ll give Trump a pass until he’s inaugurated; then he’s fair game, and I trust that you will be open to impeaching a real wannabe dictator who will, if given an opportunity, trash the Constitution. I won’t be holding my breath for your Trump impeachment demands–unless it’s your ox that’s being gored. But then you’d probably blame that on President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Your are, apparently, partial to orange skin and yuuugggeee comb-overs. C’mon, Aggie. The guy’s a narcissistic, poor imitation of a tin-pot dictator. Even you can see it, and you love it.

      • FireBaron says:

        You know, Aggie, when you first turned up a lot of thought you were Otto under a different persona. Here is the difference – Otto is perfectly capable of making fun of his own positions, as well as showing the rest of us how to laugh. You, on the other hand, are a bitter example of someone who has no care for the feelings of others. You, like your narcissistic idol, are only concerned about your own fragile ego and take gratification by denouncing anyone who disagrees with you in the slightest. Now that Teflon Donnie has been elected, we are going to have to put up with your vitriol against anything that does not toe the line with your alternating views of what Conservatism should be. One post you seem to follow an alt-right philosophy of strong-man rule, while the next you are a libertarian who wants to demolish all forms of government.
        Liberals like Dominick, TZ, Aaron, myself and company have no problem listening to Conservatives, especially when they are willing to have constructive discussions. We find the back and forth of ideas and opinions welcome. We all learn from each other. You, on the other hand, only come here to condemn us, demean us, insult us, belittle us and anything else that seems to gratify your fragile ego. Please do us all a favor. If you cannot join in the conversation in a constructive manner, then please go elsewhere to spew your vitriol.

        • AgLander says:

          Did your dopey friends down at Starbucks provide you with your diatribe material as you all sat sipping lattes while spewing naked rage over the election results? You libs are tragically comical in your childlike responses to not getting your way! And “showing you all how to laugh”? How is that possible? We all know that you libs are humorless and have no ability to laugh!

    • FireBaron says:

      The likelihood of Teflon Donnie being impeached by a Paul Ryan-controlled House is slim to none, unless he blatantly breaks the law while in office. He will be held to a much lower standard that Bill Clinton was for denying he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinski while under oath. For Teflon Donnie, he would have to shoot someone on Broadway at High Noon for not offering to lick the manure off his boot before Congress would act against him.

  2. Trump has so many fatal flaws that his unfitness should be obvious. But since abnormality is acceptable, and what is normal is so distorted that it’s harder to discern it in America, it’s easy to overlook the flaws he has flaunted flagrantly.
    Looking forward to the folly of digging the foundation for a Wall—it should prove most illuminating.

  3. johninPCFL says:

    One issue that Trump raised is that he would not accept the election results if he lost. Now that he’s won, is he more, or less, likely to accept defeat four years from now? Is he more, or less, likely to use the largest, most powerful army in the world to keep himself in power? Is he more, or less, likely to emulate his hero Putin?

    • Buford2k11 says:

      It seems, the Trump Campaign followed the “Ukrainian Model” for his entire campaign…Come on, It was obvious when Manafort was first brought on…Putin’s man…we are going to see a continuation of this, and they will build on Turkey’s successes with the suppression of the opposition…the Playbook is in Play….title of my new book….

  4. charleo1 says:

    If Trump does nothing but demonstrate to nearly half the Country who didn’t bother to vote, how important it is in a democracy to do so. And given we all survive whatever comes of this mess, that would be a very good thing. Whatever the case we’re sure gonna find out what allowing 1/4 of population make the decision for the other 3/4 looks like. Maybe a stiff drink is in order here in the home of the brave?

  5. Oddworld says:

    Adam Johnson (author of this article) only got it half right. Just because Trump is President Elect doesn’t mean that suddenly everyone is going to bow down to him.
    It may seem that way but the media has always been kind to Donald Trump, the entire campaign was certainly no exception. Trump says he wants to be everyone’s president so it is up to all of us to make sure he be held to THAT promise, if not than he will find that running a country where over half the electorate is against him is a harder proposition than he thought.

    • TZToronto says:

      Oh, he’ll just try to do something stupid, like declaring martial law or ordering the army to patrol the streets in “bad” neighborhoods or arresting young Muslim men “just because.” How much do we have to give up before we start to get really cranky about a Trump presidency? How long will journalists concede their existential purpose–to inform the public–in favor of trying to create a narrative that paints an abnormal, self-proclaimed business genius failure as just one of a series of capable leaders. I hope he gets pounced on the first time he tries to violate the Constitution (and he will try) or attempts to enrich himself from the public purse. Bottom line: The guy’s not normal, so don’t treat him that way.

      • Oddworld says:

        “How much do we have to give up before we start to get really cranky about a Trump presidency”? That’s the question of the century isn’t it?
        I wondered the same thing ever since George W. Bush and his band of merry criminals led this country into an untenable situation with two disastrous wars. I never thought Americans would accept all the negative changes in our society but we seem to be far more adaptable and tolerant of wrong doing than we should be. So the only answer that fits is “I don’t know”. I guess we’ll find out where the tipping point lies or if there even is one at all.

      • Buford2k11 says:

        I was guessing we would be under Martial Law by July 4th…Fitting, considering the entire election was about the Failure of the Great Experiment….”See Ya In Hell” can be our battle cry…

        • TZToronto says:

          A great way to celebrate Independence Day. On the other hand, the Republican Party sees Trump as a loose cannon, someone they can’t control. He might just revert to his pro-choice stance and refuse to scrap Obamacare when the repeal comes to his desk. And the trade deals? Republicans who are cognizant of the importance of global markets that are open to U.S. goods and could be closed in a trade war don’t want to destroy those. The troubling thing is the wannabe tyrants he’s appointing for important jobs. You can be sure that the Justice Department will not be free to prosecute whomever they please, and Trump does have that enemies list. So, just to make everything easier and so the trains run on time, Trump may declare martial law to deal with “unrest” (i.e., protest) , scrap posse comitatus, and give the U.S. Army free rein to terrorize the citizenry–and if you don’t like it, try waterboarding.

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