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The United States during Trump’s final year in office posted the largest year-to-date increase in murders since the FBI first began tabulating the statistics more than six decade ago. The nation suffered a stunning 30% jump last year, the Bureau recently confirmed. There were an additional 4,901 homicides in 2020 compared with the year before. The crime spree story received lots of media coverage this week, most of which politely disappeared Trump.
That’s convenient for the GOP and for Trump, who’s eyeing a re-election run in 2024.
Republicans controlled the federal government while the United States suffered an historic, unheard-of one-year murder rate increase, yet much of the coverage in terms of who was to blame focused on Democratic allies on the left, and specifically the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Researchers said a range of factors contribute to annual variations, and the turmoil of 2020 — including the coronavirus pandemic and the fallout from George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis by police — likely played a role,” NPR reported. Meanwhile, CBS News listed “the COVID-19 pandemic, nationwide shutdowns and debate over police reform in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing in police custody” as key causes.
Left untouched by the mainstream media coverage was addressing who was president while the nation battled a once-in-a-lifetime spike in murders. What is the long-term political fallout for Trump? What did the Trump administration do, if anything, last year as the killings mounted across the country?
The only reason Trump’s name came up with regards to the murder surge this week was because his former press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, foolishly claimed on Twitter that the homicide surge was Biden’s fault. When it was pointed out her boss was in office during the 30% spike, she quickly deleted her Tweet.
For the most part, the press whitewashed Trump from the story, which was telling given the assumption that he will run again in 2024. Journalists seem to have no interest in holding him accountable for his policy failures. Instead, they’re busy trying to normalize him, by suggesting Biden acts a lot like Trump.
We saw the press give Trump a policy pass in August as the media gorged on Afghanistan “crisis” coverage, which fixated solely on Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops. Glossed over was the fact that Trump left Biden with an awful deal when in 2020 the Republican negotiated a one-sided surrender/troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which emboldened the Taliban because Trump both sidelined the Afghanistan government in the process, and promised the U.S. presence would be gone by May.
In the avalanche of press coverage Trump receives while out of office, and specifically the media attention that focuses on his future political aspirations, his policy failures are never addressed.
The historic homicide surge was fueled by an unabated stockpiling of guns in the U.S. — nearly 80% of reported homicides in 2020 were committed with a gun, the highest share ever reported. And Trump did nothing.
There’s also no question that Covid played a large role in the violent spike. The lockdown and loss of jobs added to a sense of despair and panic for lots of people, while police departments often struggled with staffing.
Trump’s criminally negligent Covid relief response left the country vulnerable to the pandemic and let fear and uncertainty fester all last year. Trump’s relentless barrage of falsehoods caused public health confusion. His planned chaos extended to the daily Covid briefings where he lied without pause about a public health crisis. The low point came when Trump suggested Americans inject bleach into their bodies. Trump gave a stand-down order for the virus invasion, but the press doesn’t dwell on that, even while covering the pandemic-fueled rise in violence.
Not surprisingly, the right-wing media this week tried to blame the 2020 murder surge on Democrats, claiming the spike was confined to blue states and blue cities. “Liberals in power have allowed the endangerment of their citizens to get worse by refusing to revert to law enforcement solutions proven to work,” Fox News claimed this week.
False. “Killings were more widespread, occurring in all regions of the United States and not limited to major cities,” as the New York Times reported. The paper noted, “In 1990, New York City and Los Angeles accounted for 13.8 percent of the country’s homicides, compared with 3.8 percent in 2020.” The Times pointed that even tiny (red) towns like Haskell, Okla., population 2,000, suffered badly during the killing year.
“Overall, murder was up at least 20% in counties carried by President Joe Biden as well as by former President Donald Trump in 2020,” the Orlando Sentinel noted. Just look at the FBI numbers — killings last year in deeply red states like Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi far surpassed the homicide rate for the rest of the country.
The U.S., from coast to coast, just endured a homicide calendar year unlike any other. There’s no way Trump gets a pass on that.
(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
📕 GOOD STUFF:
From Frank Bruni’s latest column in the Times, “Sorry, Stephanie Grisham, You Are Not Redeemed”:
I wish that Grisham had possessed the courage to call out Kushner in real time, when it mattered much more.
But no. She was too busy savoring her perks, relishing her access, enjoying the roller coaster ride. She was in crowded company that way, and the size and tenacity of that crowd are what has always bothered me more than the reckless actions and rancid character of the president — I’ll spare you his name — whom that crowd was serving. After all, the world is full of bad apples, some of whom are bound to wind up at the summit of government, their ascent in fact served by their wormy foulness. I’ve always been aware of that.
🎙 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
John Mellencamp (featuring Bruce Springsteen), “Wasted Days”
Collectively, they’ve been making music for nearly 100 years, gulp. And collectively , they’ve sold more than 100 million albums. Another gulp. For the first time here, the two American icons finally join forces in the studio.
The results is a winning shuffle, accentuated by an accordion and brush drums. It’s an unhurried meditation by two road-tested warriors who ponder life’s fourth quarter. Note: The song was definitely written by Mellencamp; he’s brutally honest about mortality.
How much sorrow is there left to climb
How many promises are worth the time
And who on earth is worth our time
Is there a heart here that I can call mine?
🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.
Click hereto listen via Apple Music.