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Astonished by a president who has deliberately made every wrong move when faced with a crippling pandemic, and who refuses to change course as the carnage mounts, media players continue to express shock at Trump's behavior. Insisting it was impossible to tell in 2016 that Trump's irrational and erratic behavior would create so much death and destruction, the preferred talking point for many is that nobody could've have predicted Trump's presidency would be this horrific.
It’s extraordinary for media professionals who covered the 2016 campaign to now express wonderment at the predictably tragic consequences of Trump's victory. But the denial remains firm. On Friday, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski went one step further. Not only did she insist Trump's monstrous, psychopathic behavior was unknowable, she specifically called out Hillary Clinton for failing to warn us in 2016.
"We have learned he has no balance, that he was way worse than anybody thought he would ever be," Brzezinski said, referring to Trump's corruption and lawbreaking. "We never though that we'd be seeing this. Nobody did. And it's not just us. It's Hillary Clinton, who went to parties with him."
This is the definition of gaslighting — the purposeful erasing of history. In this case, it's Brzezinski trying to erase the central role she played in that history. Insisting Clinton didn't know about Trump’s dangerous ways or warn us four years ago is categorically false. (She called him "dangerously incoherent.") The reason Brzezinski might have missed Clinton's warnings was because she was relentlessly bashing Clinton during the campaign, while propping up Trump's run.
The fact remains that the press was central to Trump's victory, as they often treated him like a celebrity and ceaselessly attacked his opponent — a stunning media double standard. Yet to this day, most major players have refused to acknowledge their role in creating the careening Trump presidency. And some like Brzezinski want to disappear their role, while blaming Clinton in the process.
It's true that Brzezinski and her husband Joe Scarborough, who co-host "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, have become leading Trump critics. Today their voices are welcomed ones in terms of media outlets speaking truth to power about Trump's criminal ways. But that doesn't mean pundits get a pass on having helped elect him.
Scarborough and Brzezinski routinely fawned over Trump and helped normalize his repulsive behavior through the primary season, the general election, and into the Trump transition. "They created him," was how pollster Peter Hart once described their role.
After the second presidential debate with Clinton, a wowed Brzezinski announced, "No Republican in America could have done what he did last night. It was vintage Trump. He produced a daylong show that rocked the political world." What did Trump do for the second debate? He collected women who had accused Hillary Clinton's husband of sexual wrongdoing and assembled them for a bizarre press event that debased the democratic process. That's what Brzezinski was gushing about the next day.
In October of 2016, when the New York Times reported that supposed billionaire Trump had sustained $900 million in losses in 1995, thereby allowing him to pay no taxes, Brzezinski cheered Trump's "brilliant" response to the revelation, and told Clinton to "get off your high horse" when it came to the topic of taxes. Brzezinski actually suggested Clinton accepting money for giving paid speeches and disclosing that information was "the same thing" as Trump failing to pay taxes.
"Scarborough and Brzezinski, who’ve known Trump for over a decade, had to be willfully oblivious to avoid seeing the true Trump," wrote Occidental College professor Peter Dreier in 2017. "All of Trump’s traits that they now find so objectionable were clearly on display last year when they embraced him and his campaign. They helped normalize Trump even while he was violating every standard of decency expected of a presidential candidate and a president, while putting the nation at risk with his chaotic and impulsive behavior and unsteady leadership."
As for Clinton not warning us about Trump, that's pretty much all she did from the spring of 2016 until Election Day. It's just that some people chose not to listen.
From a defining speech Clinton gave that June:
Making Donald Trump our commander in chief would be a historic mistake and it would undo so much of the work that Republicans and Democrats alike have done over many decades to make America stronger and more secure….Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different, they’re dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies. He is not just unprepared. He is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.
On and on it went:
For those who are aghast at the state of Trump's crumbling America, it's important to understand how we got here, and how the D.C. press shoulders so much of the blame.
🦾 GOOD STUFF :
This is a bit unusual. I quote Occidental College professor Peter Dreier above from his piece, “Joe And Mika Owe America An Apology.” Now, in the wake of Rep. John Lewis’ sad passing, I’m going to quote Dreier again, in a piece he just wrote for The American Prospect, “John Lewis: Good Trouble”:
In a new documentary film, John Lewis: Good Trouble, scheduled for broadcast on CNN this fall, Lewis explained that he’d been arrested at least 45 times—five times since he was elected to Congress in 1986. “My philosophy is very simple,” Lewis says in the film. “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, say something. Do something. Get in trouble. Good trouble.”
🎸 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Ted Hawkins, "Missin' Mississippi"
If you've never heard the extraordinarily talented Ted Hawkins, please give this one a click. His story is one of the most unusual and heartbreaking music industry tales I've ever heard — plus his songs are absolutely spellbinding.
Born into poverty in the Deep South in the late 1930s, Hawkins spent time in reform schools and prisons as he drifted across the country, occasionally recording his blues and soul songs. Battles with addictions often got in the way of a possible music career. In 1994, after performing on the boardwalk in Venice Beach, California, and catching the attention of a record producer, Hawkins released his stunning album, The Next Hundred Years, on Geffen Records. Tragically, he died of a stroke just a few months later.