The press fawned over Trump voters in diners. Now they're Covid zombies

Brainwashed

  
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Willfully risking death by refusing to take the miraculously safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, Trump voters nationwide have embarked on one of the deadliest and most illogical movements in American history — they’ve morphed into QAnon-fueled, brainwashed, Covid zombies, immune to rational thought.

Fresh off of backing a deadly insurrection and trying to overturn free and fair elections, they have set their sights on extinguishing American norms.

President Joe Biden addressed the nation Thursday in hopes of creating a path forward out of the pandemic entirely because Covid zombies, a radical menace, refuse to get vaccinated. They, along with local Republican officials, help fuel the Delta surge, which has shuttered school districts nationwide and set off local mayhem as Trump voters wage war on mask mandates. “Fights broke out and at least one person was handcuffed after a Missouri school board voted unanimously to mandate masking in schools amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the area,” read a recent dispatch.

The zombies are part of a deep-pocketed political and media crusade determined to keep the pandemic going, and gladly risking infections by embracing anti-science demagoguery.

What’s telling is that while Trump was in the White House and the Beltway press glowingly profiled his supporters, preferably in red state diners, that’s not the story the media were telling. Anxious to brush off claims of liberal media bias, reporters fanned out to Trump 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.”)

Yet virtually none of that gentle coverage hinted at a radical, conspiratorial dark side at play. Routinely depicted as hard-working folks in search of a political path, and thankful for Trump leadership, the Trump voter coverage deliberately failed to pull back the curtain and reveal even small glimpses of today’s manic, anti-mask and anti-vaccine mobs. Instead, the press presented a gauzy fantasy about what was going on in conservative America.

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Committed to the idea that Trump's white voters were the most important, and most authentic, voices in American politics, the media spent years celebrating them, marveling at their loyalty in the face of Trump's erratic behavior.

It was relentless. Over the span of just four days in early 2017, the New York Times published a long profile on women who voted for Trump, a piece on Trump fans who traveled to the inauguration, and an adoring profile of a Trump voter who lied about Hillary Clinton during the campaign and profited from his fake news business. Later, even a Trump supporter who had nice things to say about Nazis received a gentle Times profile. (Actual Trump voter Times headlines: "These Guys Really Like Trump"; “Trump’s Fights Are Their Fights. They Have His Back Unapologetically")

Today, those Trump voters have mobilized as Covid zombies and gone from insisting the pandemic was a hoax in 2020, to embracing every illogical anti-vaccine trope that Tucker Carlson regurgitates. And they still think the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus.

Trump voters have collectively lost their minds as the virus runs wild in red states. Even as some prominent anti-vaccine zealots kill themselves off, the close-minded hysteria intensifies as fanatics now physically assault local school board members, lodge countless death threats, and cause chaos for teachers and students. This is a kind of cult-like mania rarely seen in modern American history.

There have been unhinged right-wing political mobs before — think back to the Tea Party movement, which flourished as soon as America elected its first Black president. That however, was fueled by a willful misreading of Obama’s economic policy and bailout strategy. The current day right-wing madness is more akin to the Salem witch trials, where hysterical, organized mobs conjure up imaginary demons and then set out to administer vigilante justice.

“Community groups within our conservative stronghold thought they could buck the Fox News narrative and persuade reluctant Republicans to get vaccinated,” explained Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in western Michigan. “They recruited local Republican leaders to encourage their supporters to get their shots. But instead of getting more people vaccinated, these public servants got death threats.”

Yet the press is still normalizing the insanity. After documenting several instances of Trump voters storming school board meetings and comparing mask mandates to sex trafficking and to Hitler’s rise to power (“This is what Hitler wants. Hitler wants everybody divided. If we all stay divided, who wins? Hitler wins”), the New York Times’ Michelle Cottle insisted that what the Covid Zombies are doing “is nothing new.” In reality, it’s unprecedented.

In The Atlantic, Elizabeth Bruenig tsk-tsked liberals for “shaming” Trump voters who are bypassing an FDA-approved vaccine in order to ingest horse paste.

Five years ago, the press made excuses for Trump’s bigoted base during the campaign by claiming they were motivated by “economic anxiety.” Then news outlets spent four years courting Trump voters in cozy diners and presenting them as authentic voices from the heartland. Now they’re Covid zombies, and the press missed the story.

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(Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images)

🎤 EXTRA STUFF:

Thanks to Bob Cesca for having me on his excellent podcast this week. We discussed all things media, including Afghanistan coverage and Covid. Click on tweet below to listen.

🎸 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK

They Might Be Giants, “I Can’t Remember the Dream”

I first saw TMBG a million years ago at the original Iron Horse Cafe in Northampton, MA, when it fit 90 people, max. I sat on the stairs and reviewed the show for my college newspaper. At the time, the two-man Brooklyn band was riding high on its iconic nerd-rock hit, “Don’t Let’s Start.”

The insanely prolific John Flansburgh and John Linnell still sound great today. With a heavy guitar riff nod to The Troggs’ “Wild Thing,” the new single is from the group’s 23rd album.

When I'm awake, i note all that I see
And remember it with photographic accuracy
Most of my memories tend to be bad
And I'm sad i can't remember the dream that I had

🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.

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