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As concern surrounding Trump's mental health grows, the media need to start aggressively covering the topic as the urgent news story it is. And that’s the message coming from a Trump family member.
In her widely touted new book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, clinical psychologist Mary Trump paints a devastating portrait of a deeply dysfunctional Trump family, and points to that as the root of the president’s disturbing, antisocial behavior. As Donald Trump's niece, she writes that he represents a “Frankenstein’s monster,” shaped by his father’s deep, uncaring pathologies. "Donald today is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information,” she writes.
Trump's niece also complains that the press hasn't been keyed into the defining issue of this presidency. "Mary takes the media to task for searching for a 'strategy' in anything Donald does and for soft-pedaling what she describes as multiple psychological disorders," Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien noted.
Mary's right about the media and its thin coverage of Trump's troubling mental health. There's not a working member of the Washington press corps today who watches Trump day in and day out and thinks, ‘He's seems stable, and I have no questions about his mental capacity.’ They all know it's an alarming, ever-present issue. But newsrooms don't want to suffer the backlash—the shouts of "Liberal media bias!"—that would rain down on journalists who tackle the story, even though it's so obviously newsworthy.
Once the press opens the Pandora's box by reporting aggressively on the president's personality disorders, that would require constant media coverage for months to come, including regular interviews with mental health experts in an effort to inform the public about the president's likely deteriorating condition and psychological impairments. (Currently, the issue only becomes news when Trump himself raises it.)
Just last month, Trump in rapid succession accused a cable TV host of murder, claimed a 75-year-old peace activist hospitalized by police was a terrorist sympathizer, charged Barack Obama with being a criminal mastermind, and threatened to unleash gunfire on Minneapolis protesters. Yet Trump's emotional instability, the essential issue of his presidency, has become the third rail of American journalism — a topic so dangerous it cannot be touched as a news story. There appear to be two simple truths in play: Trump fits the textbook definition of a psychopath, and newsrooms are too afraid to touch that story. (Opinion writers are not.) Don't journalists want to understand, through interviews with experts in the field, if there's something mentally or emotionally wrong with the President of the United States, and delve into what that means for the country?
Instead, much of the press clings to the fantasy that Trump remains mentally stable, and that the White House remains a functioning entity. It's not, as the Covid-19 pandemic clearly illustrates, and specifically as the administration's push to re-open schools highlights. The administration has absolutely no plan to help facilitate that gigantic undertaking. So no, there is no functioning White House today. Just like Trump is not a functioning, stable person.
The pandemic, Mary writes, has revealed the president to be a “petty, pathetic little man — ignorant, incapable, out of his depth, and lost in his own delusional spin." She adds, "He’ll withhold ventilators or steal supplies from states that have not groveled sufficiently. What Donald thinks is justified retaliation is, in this context, mass murder."
Mary’s insights come just weeks after Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter for Trump's famous book, The Art of the Deal, and now a close chronicler and critic of the president, wrote that he's convinced Donald is a dangerous "psychopath," and that the issue needs to be widely discussed.
"We can observe every daywhich psychopathic traits Trump manifests in his behavior. The highly regarded Hare Psychopathy Check list enumerates 20 of them. By my count Trump clearly demonstrates 16 of the traits and his overall score is far higher than the average prison inmate," Schwartz wrote. "The trait that most distinguishes psychopaths is the utter absence of conscience — the capacity to lie, cheat, steal, and inflict pain to achieve their ends without a scintilla of guilt or shame, as Trump so demonstrably does."
The consequences for the country are enormous. "How do we deal with a person whose core impulse in every part of his life is to deny, deceive, deflect, disparage, and double-down every time he is challenged?" Schwartz asked. "And what precisely is the danger such a person poses if he also happens to be the leader of the free world, during a crisis in which thousands of people are dying every day, with no letup in sight?"
Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, Schwartz, like Mary, scolded the media for "abdicating" their role in covering Trump's pressing mental health issues. When CNN host Brian Stelter said he didn't want to believe Schwartz's claim that Trump doesn't care about the 130,000-plus pandemic deaths in the U.S., the author's response was emphatic: "He's incapable."
Schwartz is right. Trump's personality disorders are the most important story of the his presidency, and the press needs to stop downplaying it.
With the Republican Party’s radical, dangerous nature coming into full view as GOP governors now oversee a massive outbreak of Covid-19 cases in red states, it’s important that media voices be clear about what’s happening. On Friday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did just that with an excellent, lengthy monologue about how the GOP, is now , quite literally, made up of “pro-virus Republicans.”
“On the whole, as an entitty, the Republican Party is an unredeemable disaster,” Hayes noted. “This party is intellectually bankrupt, and entirely unable to meet the moment. It is so corroded ... that it will revolt against one of its own members when they do something right to fight the plague to save lives. It’s becoming a pro-COVID party before our eyes.”
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK:
The Airborne Toxic Event, "Come On Out"
I think most folks understand American rock bands aren't exactly flourishing these days as rap, hip-hop, and R&B acts have cemented their place at the center of pop music. That's how cultural cycles work, and I don't think it's something to be bemoaned or cursed.
One of the consequences of the drums/bass/guitar fade away though, is that when rock bands do deliver these days, it seems like a bigger deal — as if fans are even more attuned and grateful. L.A.'s Airborne Toxic Event has done just that with its sixth album. And from that comes the stellar track, "Come On Out," with its wonderfully nostalgic, 90's alt-rock sound to it.
Frontman Mikel Jollett recently discussed the brooding, autobiographical song with Apple Music:
My second stepdad, he wasn't a good guy. We used to fight all the time and whatever. One night, it got really out of hand, and so I left. I ran away. I was 10 years old, and I just got on my bike and took off. I ended up at the West Salem bridge throwing rocks, and I thought about jumping.
And your mother, she's calling
You feel your hopes falling
And there's nowhere to run to tonight
Just his fist on your face now
You hope to replace how
the emptiness fills you inside