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Hey listen, he had me at ultraviolet light inside the body. It just keeps getting worse day after day and if you think it can't get worse, ask yourself during the past 3 and a half years when did it not get worse? This mentally ill president still holds the nuclear codes. He still has the ability to cause even more damage to this country than he already has. The press is aiding and abetting the destruction of our democracy for fear of losing access. Do journalists understand that once we descend all the way to authoritarianism, if we're not there already, that they will not even have a job. Or if they do they may be forced to simply report on this year's grain harvest like the press used to do in the Soviet Union. Are they okay with that? Will they be okay with journalists being locked up or perhaps worse? This maniac in the White House never forgets his enemies. You would think for self preservation interests alone, the mainstream media would be speaking truth to power but yet, it's mostly crickets.

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i'm not sure journalists do understand what's at stake, or pretend a full descent into authoritarianism isn't possible. so they still treat his presidency and the coverage as sort of a cat and mouse game....he shreds the truth, they run sidebar fact-checks.

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I agree regarding the reticence of the press to address Trump's obvious mental issues. My question is, why? I don't mean the boilerplate answer that sounds as if it's coming out of a journalism textbook - I mean the real, honest-to-goodness answer.

What's always missing from these stories about the press not doing something are quotes from the press themselves - reporters, editors, publishers, sales managers. I want to hear the real answers from the people who make the decisions about what I read. If they don't want to expose themselves, can we at least have anonymous quotes from the decision makers in the press? I'm actually curious and want to know the truth about why Trump has been allowed to skate by for his entire career.

On a personal note, I understand that members of the press are off-the-recording each other while having a cocktail or ten. However, the need for the public to know the truth, for history to record the truth, is more important than some chummy confidentiality between two newspaper pals. I want to know the reason, dammit. Period.

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I’d love to hear public explanations, too. Remember when there was roiling debate on whether TV shoukd cover Trump’s pandemic briefings considering they were filled w/ lies and endangering the public? That whole time I never read/saw a sunlit TV make public defense for airing briefings nonstop

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Then reporters need to engage in whistleblowing about their own profession and name names. If Winston Editorio, news director of something, is threatening journalists to report things, I want to know it. Why are there secrets? Why is what goes on in any place a secret when there is a supposed free press? "Sunlight for everyone else but, oh my, none for us because we're special"? The First Amendment doesn't mention circling the wagons around a business model.

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That is an excellent point and I want answers too.

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I couldn't agree more. As a registered nurse, I cannot understand the wanton disregard of this man's obvious descent into worsening dementia. He continues to provide evidence of this on a daily basis, yet the press rarely discuss it.

But, her emails!

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author

sadly I think the press is just too scared to discuss it!

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Annoyed that we are content to label all "press" as merely reporters instead of investigative journalists, but congrats for having the cojones necessary to address the obvious in print. Though Yamiche Alcindor and others are doing admirable work in the WH Press Room, where are the descendants of Woodward and Bernstein investigating the nuts and bolts of this madness? Why is his recent "physical" (which is clearly all inaccurate) accepted as truth?

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The broader topic here is self-censorship in the U.S. media. The run-up to the Iraq war saw massive protests in major cities go astoundingly ignored by tv and print media. This has never been explained. We are at the same place with Trump's obvious dementia or whatever it is. The man is not in his right mind. Same blanket censorship by news outlets. Breathtaking.

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author

indeed. the DC press has made wholesale decisions about topic not to cover, or not to be honest about. i.e. calling Trump a "liar," "racist" or "unstable"

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History is filled with psychotic bullies stealing power who have destroyed, not built. How have we so failed in our history education that a crucial number of Americans actually vote for these mentally ill tyrants???

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author

agreed. this all falls under the false umbrella of It Could Never Happen Here

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The same reason that the Germans did. As long as he was talking about "those people", they were satisfied they wouldn't lose anything. Even when Jews were being rounded up, the Germans were quiet. Then the bombs starting falling and suddenly they were upset that their privilege didn't spare them.

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founding

I take issue with psychologists/psychiatrists hiding behind the “I can’t diagnose someone I haven’t professionally” excuse. You don’t diagnose severe personality disorders with blood tests, MRIs, etc. you do it by looking at the person’s behaviors. Trump’s behavior has been very public and well documented for decades, giving professionals much more information than they ever have about patients they see in their practices.

Trump has all the symptoms of extreme form of narcissistic personality disorder which is a from of psychopathy. That is a very dangerous condition, especially in someone with the power of the presidency.

Read the symptoms used to diagnose this dangerous disorder and you will see that Trump fits them to a “T”. We know from what has been written about him and in his authorized biography that these are symptoms he has consistently exhibited. This was obvious before he ran for president and should have been talked about when he first ran.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662

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right, there the old ‘Goldwater rule,’ that suggests drs/journalists are not suppose to try to ‘diagnose’ people from a distance. But do many in the medical field have come forward and said that no longer applies to Trump....but journos still hide behind it

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The "Goldwater rule" went into effect before there was abundant instant and worldwide 24/7 media coverage of Trump's nonsensical incendiary public speeches and comments, in addition to social media - especially his tweets. The constant tweets provide a more nearly accurate documentation of his deteriorating mental status and increasing paranoid mentation than a psychological evaluation could do the primary method of diagnosis that was available in Goldwater's time (although a psychological evaluation of Trump would likely be a helpful diagnostic tool). In addition, the transcripts of his public oral ramblings demonstrate even more evidence of his mental confusion. Reading the transcript of one of his speeches has more of an impact than hearing his stream of consciousness (is there one?) ramblings. It was funny when Lily Tomlin did it, but somehow the audience could dismantle her comments and figure out what she was trying to say. But this is not the case with Trump. It's just words - disconnected words and disconnected partial sentences from an increasingly disconnected and deteriorating mind.

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Mr. Boehlert,

In reference to why journalists ought not diagnose medical conditions; I’d suggest that journalists are not qualified to make medical diagnoses.

Then I’ll refer you to Fox four years ago and their multiple, incorrect, diagnoses of Hillary Clinton’s health. The coverage was absurd and unfair.

Finally, we can see Trump have trouble raising his right arm above his shoulder. We see him take halting steps down stairs or ramps. An official explanation is unnecessary.

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As a private citizen there is only ever one reason I want to know this and other things: Because I wish it. That's it. That's the reason. I want to know whatever piques my curiosity at any given time of the day. Now, not being an official card-carrying member of the Press, my phone calls to the White House generally bounce off the switchboard as if they were being made by "Sol Rosenberg" inquiring about a pair of glasses. So I rely upon the aforementioned Press to help fill in the gaps of my knowledge by making the phone calls on my behalf.

As to Trump's mental state - they do have forensic psychologists who can ballpark a diagnosis based upon what is known. We have year after year after year of a incessantly talking and tweeting man. Unless you're telling me that all Trump is doing is performance-art, then I have to assume all of what comes out of his brain are his genuine thoughts at the moment. There is ample evidence for any psychologist to assess Donald Trump. Not to do so is willful ignorance, not professional ethics.

Do scientists know that a burst of radio waves every 157 days from billions of light years away is a black hole revolving around another black hole? No, they have not directly observed it. However, their knowledge of physics gives them a way to narrow down a theory to something that makes the most sense.

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Because you choose is the only reason you do anything at all.

But your choices are to be taken in relationship with the choices of all the rest of us.

And there’s the matter of personal privacy. Trump did not waive entirely his personal privacy when he sought public office.

Medical professionals have ethical restrictions on what information they can release. Usually none unless specifically requested by the patient.

Journalists have the responsibility to report facts. i. e. Trump had trouble lifting his shoulder. They have an equal responsibility not to speculate.

Wasn’t the effort Fox spent on Hillary’s health enough to convince you?

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I don't know what you want from me. You make your own choices in life. Close your ears. Don't read what you don't like. I'm not concerned with what you do. However, it is you who wants to evoke an ivory tower and force the rest of us to abide by that standard. No. No one and no thing is sacrosanct - especially a public figure whose actions affect billions of people. He doesn't get the benefit of the doubt. If it was Johnny Jinks of 1313 Mockingbird Lane, then I'd say, "OK, give the guy his privacy. He's just some dude who isn't hurting anyone." But Donald Trump IS hurting people. No ivory tower or 20 foot high wall should be erected to protect his delicate feelings.

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I ask consistency from you.

If you, like I, were appalled by Fox’s “Medical A Team” diagnosing conflicting, debilitating, potentially fatal medical conditions for Hillary Clinton; I ask you to be consistent and hold the same actions on Trump equally unfair.

If you, like I, were appalled by psychiatrists diagnosing a Bill Clinton they’d never met; I ask you to be consistent and hold the same actions on Trump unfair.

If you, like I, found the prying into President Clinton’s private life unfair; I ask you to be consistent and hold the same actions unfair on Trump.

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In the 2004 book Trump: Think Like a Billionaire, a book Trump claims to have written, Trump calls himself a "productive narcissist. I suppose someone told him about the 2003 Michael Maccoby book about the idea. I doubt he read it himself.

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One reason for the media not covering the Trump derangement angle could be that they know it won't really change anything. It won't lead to his ouster because nothing he does will provoke the corrupt GOP into acting against him. I think a worse media failure is not covering election fraud, and Eric, I hope you focus on that too at some point. We saw what just happened in GA; it's gonna be massive in November.

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author

if the press isn't addressing Trump's derangement bc they don't think it will lead to his ouster, than that's a real dodge by them. it's not up to the press to determine outcomes. it's up to them to cover the news.

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Sadly, the poor coverage of the president extends to the congress as well. When asked to comment on the president's lunatic tweets GOP senators often say "I haven't seen it." No reporter follows up with "Isn't it your job to stay up to date with what the leader of your party says?"

Media approval ratings are falling as fast as congressional approval.

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author

press stopped holding GOP responsible for Trump's actions about two years ago. if you remember Clinton impeachment, press *demanded* comments/accountability from Dems everyday for 18 months

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Look at their behavior at briefings, including accepting having to sit closer together. However bad the economy is, maybe we need to start a "defund the Washington press corps" campaign?

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Mr. Boehlert, I ask you first to watch an episode from an old TV series called “The Twilight Zone” called “It’s a Good Life”. No sparkly vampires I assure you.

Next, please remember that Trump is the President. He has access to the nuclear launch codes and literally can rain nuclear destruction on a whim.

Then please recall that Trump is the President Republicans want. There is no 25th Amendment “off ramp”.

So I suggest there is an aspect of “playing the game” here. If we can keep Trump from realizing how insane he is, if we keep him mollified with adulation, parades, and praise, he won’t do some of the truly dangerous stuff he might.

Just one example. Lou Donna was asserting that COVID was an attack by China on the US. Worse than Pearl Harbor he said. Now we know the US response to Pearl Harbor. What if Trump listens & responds to this “attack similarly?

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author

the 25th Amendement just isn’t taken seriously by the press, is it?

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Probably. But poll after poll, primary after primary, election after election, show that Trump really has the support of a significant part of the Republican electorate.

Chris Cilizza, yes not one of your favorite people, sorry, recently wrote about how the Republicans have sold themselves to Trump. That’s not likely to change. I’m tempted to write the book, “Profiles in Wussiness”.

So, without the Republicans willing to take a stand, the 25th. Amendment simply isn’t in play.

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author

So true. and we saw yesterday how Republicans wouldn’t even admit to reading Trump’s libelous tweet abt Buffalo protesters

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Why would it be, when there's zero chance of it being invoked? It's not the press's problem; it's the government's.

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Since this grotesque creature took first started his destructive occupation of the White House I have thought of Anthony so many times - and the reactions of the townspeople in their efforts to avoid Anthony's displeasure. So many times. I applaud Dr. Fauci's ability to deal with this person - to say just the right words (counting on drmpf's inability to understand ambiguous remarks) to mollify him while still getting his critical information out to the endangered public. I hope the country doesn't have to "play the game" much longer.

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When Donald Trump said to US in 2016 “ I alone can fix it” the alarm bells should have gone off. They didn’t.

“I alone can fix it” is some serious dictator shit. Don’t need no stinking’ Congress. Don’t need no courts, supreme or otherwise. Don’t need no Constitution. I. ALONE. Can. Fix. it. It’s never been asked what “it” is. Fix what?

As a kid I remember being threatened by a bully who told me he was going to “ fix” me. He meant he was going to whip my ass.

Whatever Trump is going to “ fix” all by himself it won’t be good for our country.

Dictators fix stuff.

They make trains run on time and build super highways. They build monuments to themselves (sounds very Trumpy huh?)

They destroy people, starting with their freedoms.

To those who get the warm and fuzzies from Trump portraying himself as the protecting Big Daddy wake up!

The authoritarian wheedles and promises and makes his followers feel giving up their freedoms is surrendering to the loving arms of someone who truly cares about them. That is NOT Donald The Dictator Trump.

I just heard a group of Trump supporters asked if they prefer 4 years of Trump as dictator to 4 years of Biden as President.

The answer is not surprising.

But it’s frightening.....

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I honestly think we are going to have to have a few Cassandra’s go out and tell it, with guns blazing. Tell it, and keep repeating the fact that he is a deranged psychopath, DARVOS, self-centered, etc cetera. Get Bandy Lee, and other Professionals from the Mental Health Field to do a Symposium something. We do not have a do over option.

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Ironically, the article simply asserts that reporters don't choose to confront this elephant in the corner, not that there is any professional downside to doing so, other than possible repercussions from similarly crazed fanboys/girls. That said, there are at least several, maybe many, social attitudes that make calling a spade a spade (no, it's not a racist phrase!) problematic, starting with the tried-and-truism that while you and I are crazy, the rich are "eccentric." I've done a few hundred hours of volunteer work with mentally ill folks, and have observed that most folks, if they learn about it, are squeamish around them. Thus many friends or family let their dysfunction deteriorate way too long. Ironically, Trump's wealthy, privileged upbringing, plus grossly outdated attitudes about 'weekend's and, reportedly, a soul-murdering father, guaranteed he never got the professional help he desperately needed.

I could almost feel sorry for the poor schmoe, but, well, I AM human, and he IS such a thoroughly toxic bastard! All we can do is kick him out. And I predict we will witness the steepest, saddest decline of an ex-president in American history.

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author

the wealth angle is an interesting one...hadn't thought of that!

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Actually, go to the source for diagnosis and pathology. https://thenewpress.com/books/losing-reality. Lifton's diagnosis: 'solipsism syndrome'. Also, of course, Dr. Bandy X Lee has been banging this drum since 2016. She deserves more attention. She is not hyperbolic.

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Good article as always, and of course he is certifiable, but when writing about this clown, please consider not illustrating your excellent commentary with photos of him. We know what he looks like and seeing his face everywhere is just revolting.

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author

i struggle with this....it's just really tricky to write about Trump and the press and not include images of Trump, especially if you're trying to engage with readers. but i'll keep looking for alternatives.

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Why write an article about Trump's mindset - and not interview actual Doctors. The author cites other writers, but not a single psychiatrist.

Perhaps it's because despite the behavior, the author and friends are not in a position to diagnose a problem. Only a psychiatrist or psychologist is. Personality disorders, narcissism, dementia are serious. They are illnesses. Illnesses which have consequences even more so when it's the president. Mental illness is a punch line. "That's so bipolar.' 'Schizoid.' Etc are not ok to say. Millions of Americans suffer from debilitating incurable diseases. Heathcare facilities are lacking. 40k Americans kill themselves. Most due to illnesses of the brain. This article does an injustice. Armchair psychiatry is not a diagnosis. At best it is an attempt to understand. At worst it is used to denigrate. Whatever goes on in his head and how it spews out is our business. Playing doctor is not.

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To some degree I agree with what I believe I'm taking is your base point: "The author is not qualified to diagnose a mental illness".

And as has already been mentioned in the earlier comments there is a rule within the psychological profession that they are not supposed to diagnose people they haven't personally. I do suspect that rule is based off normal circumstances where what you could know about someone's beliefs and actions are quite limited, and there is some truth that we have decades of Trump to look at, so he's not a normal case.

There is no doubt in my mind that he is the most narcissistic person I've ever heard of. During the run up to the 2016 interview he was asked to name someone he admired and thought of as a role model. He struggled for several minutes, trying to come up with an answer then said something about "maybe my father" and spoke about him for a short time, then said something along the lines of "but really my father admires me", so really I guess I'm my own role model."

If you read the diagnostic manual for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, he really does check off every box, and none of them are even particularly debatable. But I did see an interview with the psychologist who wrote the criteria, and what he said was something along the lines of "Yes, Trump meets all the criteria we laid out, but NPD is by definition a Disorder, so the first requirement is that someone suffering from NPD is unable to function in society because of it". So by his definition, I would guess he is someone who is just barely able to avoid the disorder despite having all the defining traits of it.

I don't think they anyone is intending to make light of mental disorders, we are sincerely worried about the fact that it does appear the president of the united states is mentally unbalanced. (even if it doesn't reach the level of a diagnose-able disorder) That's scary to me, if it isn't a little scary to you, I don't know what to say to that.

As to why the reporters are reporting it... it's because they report facts. And his mental state is by definition an opinion. If he was diagnosed by a respected expert that would be news. But the rules prevent that. They do report when people who are around him say there is something wrong with him, and so many have.

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The Goldwater Rule. 1973. It's ethics. There are no exceptions. A diagnosis cannot be made without examining the individual.

I am quite familiar the traits of a narcissistic personality disorder, thank you for asking. Your suggestion that one might meet them all, but not be diagnosable doesn't really make sense.

Whether the behavior is a medical issue, a strategy, simple incompetence is not important. The behavior is the same. I do find Trump scary. "If I didn't" is as much of a valid opinion. Please, say nothing more.

If you think reporters always report facts, you're an idiot. Even the truth contains a sliver of personal belief

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