Aug 2, 2021

Good grief — Washington Post marvels at all the things Trump "got right"

The press misses him

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Eric Boehlert
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On the same day that newly released phone call notes from the Department of Justice confirmed that Trump aggressively worked to overturn the results of an American election, demanding his DOJ cronies dub the November contest to have been “corrupt,” the Washington Post decided to look back fondly on the Trump years and to keep normalizing him.

Despite his dangerous, undemocratic and authoritarian ways, it’s clear the Post misses Trump and the media attention he generates. So, putting aside his ongoing and determined efforts to demolish free and fair elections in America, the Post rounded up ten writers who were willing to type up odes to all the things Trump “got right” while president. It was an exercise in bad judgement and only highlighted the Beltway media’s willingness to portray him as a savvy player who managed to surprise the experts.

“The bigger problem…is experts/scholars sitting around and analyzing what Trump got “right” as though he were a normal president; as though he got anything right through sober-minded judgement rather than chaotic happenstance,” author Shane Carrow noted on Twitter.

The angle of the Post package was that it featured experts who were generally critical of Trump in office now writing nice things about some of his policies. For balance, did the Post tap Trump supporters in the press who conceded and detailed his failings? The newspaper did not.



Why the Post dedicated so much time and resources (3,000 words) to lionize the most consistently unpopular U.S. president in history, and one who lost his re-election bid by 8 million votes, was never explained. I don’t recall the Post collecting policy experts in 2017 to catalog all the things President Barack Obama got “right” during his time in office. Yet the Post felt compelled to do that with Trump, as the specter of lawbreaking continues to engulf him. And as Trump spreads the Big Lies that the last election was “stolen,” and that the deadly January 6, insurrection never happened.

The released notes from the DOJ last week portray a White House in late 2020 that had categorically, and unapologetically, walked away from the rule of law as it obsessively pursued Trump’s scheme to nullify millions of legitimate votes. “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me,” notes from one December 27 phone call between Trump and the acting attorney general read.

“The phone call by Mr. Trump was perhaps the most audacious moment in a monthslong pressure campaign aimed at enlisting the Justice Department in his crusade to overturn the election results,” the New York Times reported. "You guys may not be following the internet the way I do," Trump said, hyping the wild election conspiracy theories that were being promoted at the time.

Richard Nixon resigned from office for doing far less than that. Yet that was the same day last week that the Post opted to cast a glow around Trump with a contrarian look at his so-called successes.

Keep in mind that Trump ripped families apart at the border, colluded with a foreign power while in office, was impeached twice, did almost nothing to prevent 600,000 Covid-19 deaths, accused Obama of spying on his campaign, and spent months denigrating the integrity of American elections.

Trump long ago should have disqualified himself from receiving respectful news coverage. But as the Post showed, that milestone hasn’t yet been reached, as the paper eagerly wallowed in Trump revisionism. For the media, Trump remains a captivating topic who provides endless angles of intrigue and who is treated as a looming star of American politics. That, compared to the “boring” Joe Biden presidency.

What were some of the successes the Post hyped? Trump “didn’t start a war.” He was also given high marks for “diversifying” the Republican Party because Trump’s percent of the Black vote went from a paltry 8 percent in 2016 to equally paltry 12 percent in 2020. Context: That was the exact same increase George W. Bush recorded among Black voters between 2000 and 2004.

Also, Trump was credited with diminishing the White House Correspondents Dinner. It’s true that hokey and extremely chummy Beltway “nerd prom” was an embarrassment to journalism and it’s fine with it no longer existing. But the reason it got nixed under Trump was largely because he made it part of his vicious, authoritarian war against the media, a crusade that may have reached its bottom when he suggested a MSNBC host was involved in a murder plot. For four years, Trump did everything in his power to undercut the trust and effectiveness of news gathering, and that included making sure he did not have to face any barbs at the WHCA dinner. It’s hard to see how attacking the event, refusing to show up, and mercilessly belittling the free press was something he got “right”?

A dangerous autocrat who’s devoted to wrecking the American election process is waiting in the wings to become the GOP nominee in 2024, and the Beltway press seems just fine with that.

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(Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)


Ten days ago at PRESS RUN I asked, “Remember when Politico said DeSantis had “won the pandemic?,” recalling the irresponsible way the press rushed in to proclaim the Florida Republican a Covid star this spring.

In recent days, the situation in the Sunshine State continues to deteriorate under DeSantis. From the Associated Press’ “Florida Breaks Record With More Than 21,000 New COVID Cases”:

Florida reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released Saturday, as its theme park resorts again started asking visitors to wear masks indoors.

The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S. as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.

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Son Volt, “Living in the USA”

Looking over the U.S. landscape, Son Volt’s Jay Farrar sees lots of troubling signs for post-Trump America. Wrapping his meditations around a hypnotic acoustic tug that soon swells into a sturdy, Americana rocker, “Living in the USA” wonders if we’ve misplaced our collective soul.

And yes, with his deep, gravelly pipes, Farrar still has one of the most arresting and engaging voices in rock.

Where's the heart from days of old?
Where's the empathy?
Where's the soul?
Livin' in the USA
Livin' in the USA

🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.

Click here to listen via Apple Music.