Please consider subscribing for $6 a month to support fearless media commentary. Thanks!
Two days after it was reported that a detailed plan to seize voting machines was passed around the White House in December 2020, as part of Trump’s plan to steal the presidential election, the New York Times on Sunday published a gentle profile of MAGA’s who were part of a violent insurrection on January 6.
Portraying the deadly coup attempt as a spiritual rebirth for right-wing activists, one that “has given them new purpose” and a sense of “community,” the Times’ front-page piece detailed how insurrection participants had returned home renewed and committed to the Trump cause — how the attack on the Capitol “became a galvanizing new beginning.”
What was missing from the article was context. The Times did not reach out to a single Democrat for a quote, or any experts in the rise of authoritarianism in the U.S., or even any Republicans who don’t view an insurrection as the crowning achievement of the conservative movement. As with so many loving profiles of Trump voters over the years, no dissenting voices were allowed.
The Times piece never tried to explain what the news value of the exercise was. The media’s firm fixation on Trump voters isn’t normal — the idea that our politics needs to concern itself with the feelings of voters who supported the presidential loser has no basis in how the press traditionally views the election season.
It’s all part of the paper’s steadfast commitment to normalizing Trump and the dangerous movement he leads — the paper’s hallmark devotion to constantly elevating white, middle-class voters from red states and portraying them as the most important political voices in America.
“Here's the bottom line: When America elected a neo-fascist president in 2016, the New York Times didn't ask, how can we save democracy?” tweeted Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer, after reading the Sunday puff piece. “It asked, why didn't we listen more to the enablers? And it's never stopped since.”
The Times remains so institutionally committed to publishing updates about Trump Voters, while whitewashing the danger they pose to this country, that the paper can no longer recognize the absurdities of the premises they use. It would be like publishing a fawning profile of Neo-Nazis who traveled to Charlottesville in 2017. Remember the Times’ misguided profile of a Trump-supporting Nazi from Ohio? (Nazis are people too!)
The Times stressed that the people profiled in the Sunday article, the ones who came home from the riot and became even more impassioned about the Big Lie, weren’t insurrectionists, they were merely “marchers” — they “never breached the Capitol,” which somehow is supposed to make their actions less objectionable, and therefore make them more sympathetic in the hands of Times reporters. They “simply went home” after the day’s rally, the paper reported.
But the “marchers” angle represents a pointless distinction. None of the people quoted in the piece say they stayed out of the Jan. 6 violence because they thought it was wrong; none of them made a deliberate decision in real time to not try to stop a legal election from being certified. Maybe they didn’t breach the Capitol only because the crowd outside was too large for them to get inside.
In fact, one “marcher” told the Times he wished the day had featured a heavily armed mob: “I think we ought to have went armed, and took it back. That is what I believe.” Another “marcher” insisted that he and his son never tried to ransack the Capitol that day, but his son was arrested and charged for doing exactly that, in part because the son posted an update on Facebook about how he had ransacked the Capitol on Jan 6.
The key point is that the MAGA’s featured by the Times all fervently support the insurrection. They desperately wanted to void millions of legal votes in 2020. They hold fundraisers for insurrectionists currently in custody and refer to them as political prisoners who are fighting a “holy war.” If another Trump mob were to storm government buildings in an effort to dismantle the democratic process, these people would all be at the front of the line. And the Times won’t stop profiling them in the nicest terms possible.
This all goes back to 2016. Anxious to brush off claims of liberal media bias after Trump’s surprise victory, reporters fanned out to GOP bastions to eagerly record every utterance from his supporters. We witnessed a conveyor belt of stories about blue-collar voters in virtually all-white counties inside red states announcing that they really, really like Trump. (“Hitting it out of the ballpark”; “I think he’s doing a great job.”)
When Trump lost in 2020, journalists again swooped into GOP-friendly outposts such as Youngstown, Ohio (ABC News), Colorado Springs (Washington Post), and Mason, Texas (New York Times), for what seemed like group-hug sessions, as the press gave close-minded Trump supporters a platform to spread untrue claims about the election and about President Joe Biden.
It was bad enough when the Times glorified Trump voters. Now they’re celebrating insurrectionists.
(Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
From Robert Shapiro’s timely piece in the Washington Monthly, “The Biden Jobs Boom Is Bigger Than We Thought”:
The current employment boom is fueled by a highly successful economy and soaring rates of business creation. The Census Bureau reports that Americans created nearly 5.4 million private businesses in 2021—68 percent higher than the average of 3.2 million per year from 2015 to 2019. This historic level of business formation helped make the record level of quits possible, including those who left their jobs to start their own business. It also should help sustain healthy job gains throughout 2022.
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Sam Fender & Holly Humberstone, “Seventeen Going Under”
Two weeks ago I highlighted this breakout UK hit from Fender. Now he’s returned with a duet version with the compellingly talented 22-year-old, Humberstone. Together, they slow down the hard-driving song about teen against and turn it into a haunting meditation.
I was far too scared to hit him
But I would hit him in a heartbeat now
That’s the thing with anger
It begs to stick around
🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.
Click hereto listen via Apple Music.