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Anxious to portray Republicans as deeply concerned over Trumps reckless and dangerous behavior, The New York Times in three separate stories in the last week has stressed how “despairing” members of the GOP are finally breaking with Trump as the Covid-19 pandemic rages unchecked in large parts of the country. “The result is a quiet but widening breach between Mr. Trump and leading figures in his party," the newspaper reported.
The narrative is entirely false. Instead of taking a public stand against Trump as he inflames racial unrest, stokes violent street confrontations, flouts corruption, advertises his mental health disorders, and makes a once-in-a-century public health crisis worse everyday, the vast majority of Republican members of Congress and party leaders do nothing but support Trump, as they acquiesce to his growing madness.
As MSNBC's Chris Hayes stressed, "With very few exceptions, every single professional Republican is continuing to support a president who has gotten tens of thousands of Americans killed unnecessarily and will probably get tens of thousands more killed."
That's not the story the Times wants to tell. It prefers the normalizing narrative about Deeply Concerned Republicans. It's one the paper has been promoting for years, beginning during the 2015 Republican primary. The Times has dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and resources to advance the idea that Republicans leaders can't sleep at night because they’re so troubled by Trump's actions.
Why this incessant need to claim that powerful factions of the Republican Party are through with Trump? It allows the Times to depict today's GOP as 'normal.' If key players are actively "despairing" over Trump, that means the Republican Party operates within the confines of mainstream politics.
There is no GOP stampede towards the Trump exits. Trump accurately reflects where the party is today: Xenophobic, racist, vulgar, unethical, insulting, and aggressively uninterested in telling the truth. Trump does not represent a quirk of the Republican Party. He is the GOP.
"Today the intellectual leaders of the Republican Party are the paranoids, kooks, know-nothings and bigots who once could be heard only on late-night talk shows," writes Stuart Stevens, an accomplished GOP strategist who has become a fierce Trump critic.
That's just not a tale the Times wants to tell. Instead, the paper scrambles to assemble a storyline but can only point to thin examples of Republicans raising the mildest of objections to Trump’s escalating madness, and usually doing so in private, lodging objections on phone calls with White House officials.
"A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate have privately pressed the administration to bring back health briefings led by figures like Dr. Fauci," the newspaper recently reported, citing that as proof of a brewing Republican revolt. That's absurd. More than 140,000 Americans are dead from a pandemic, and Republicans senators won't publicly insist that medical experts appear at White House pandemic briefings.
Another example from the Times: "In the final days of June, the governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, a Republican, joined other governors on a conference call with Mr. Pence and urged the administration to do more to combat a sense of “complacency” about the virus." A Republican governor expressing mild annoyance with the White House on a conference call in no way supports the idea that the GOP is breaking with Trump in a meaningful way.
In a separate article about tensions between Republican Congressional leaders and the White House over a $1 trillion pandemic relief package, the Times reported, "Their uncertain fortunes appear to have stiffened Republicans’ resolve to do something they rarely try: distance themselves, however gingerly, from Mr. Trump."
Yet all Republicans did was reject Trump's flat-out bonkers proposals, like zeroing out money for testing during a national emergency, and penalizing school districts that opt to protect their students with social distancing education in the fall.
That same Times piece made sure to assure readers that, "Republicans recognize the gravity of the situation, even if they appear stuck for the moment." They recognize the pandemic gravity — they just won't challenge Trump's dangerously indifferent leadership.
Another recent Times article insisted a cadre of Republican officials from famous GOP families (Romney, Cheney, etc.) are suddenly standing up to Trump: "A high-profile club of elected Republicans — all descendants of the Republican establishment of the past, whether rebellious or resolute — has emerged as a kind of shadow conscience of the party during these days of turmoil."
What loud, public condemnations has the shadow conscience made? According to the Times, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), "has bristled at a number" of Trump administration’s positions — not exactly profiles in courage.
If Republican officials and leaders want to break with Trump, we'll all know it. Then the Times won't have to cobble together weak examples to support its preferred, polite storyline that normalizes the GOP.
Tiffany Cross has been hosting MSNBC's AM Joy since its founder, Joy Reid, moved onto the network's weeknight, 7 pm time slot. Over the weekend, I'm sure Reid was proud watching her friend cross-examine Trump's Diversity Coalition Executive Director Bruce LeVell.
Rolling Stone called the showdown, "a masterclass on how to interview a Trump sycophant":
During the 20 minute-long battle on MSNBC, Cross continuously interrupted LeVell when he attempted to deflect, lie and filibuster on a slew of issues. The host debated LeVell on the president’s race-baiting, threatening to send federal officers into cities to supposedly quell violence, and the Trump administration’s attempts to change census protocols in order to disadvantage Democrats during congressional elections.
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Dedicated Men of Zion, "Father, Guide Me, Teach Me"
Hitting that sweet spot where Sunday morning church pews intersect with Saturday nigh juke joints, the Dedicated Men of Zion deliver a blistering new gospel-blues offering here. Featuring Charlie Sexton on guest guitar, the track is a powerhouse driven by a massive beat, buoyed by thick organ swells and anthemic harmonies. The churning song delivers a welcomed dilemma while listening — do you praise his name, or order another round?