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Wednesday's moment of national humiliation, when Trump crazies launched a deadly insurrection, featured terrified members of Congress calling into cable news outlets hiding inside the Capitol Hill complex, fearfully declining to reveal their exact location. It marked the first time the building had been breached since 1814, when British troops lay siege on the banks of Potomac.
This time, domestic terrorists waving Trump flags catapulted the country into one of its darkest political chapters. The chaotic and violent spasm from the white mob represented a fitting and unsurprising culmination to Trump's four years of purposeful destruction.
"The president incited this," National Review's Andrew McCarthy told Fox News viewers. "He needs to tell people to go home and stand down." Instead, the arsonist-in-chief released a video amplifying his claim of a "stolen" election.
Trump has been at war with an unraveling America for years. The parallel reality has been that the American press corps has not figured out how to deal with that frightening scenario. It hasn’t' properly grappled with the idea that our commander-in-chief would purposefully try to harm America's security and undo its democratic traditions.
It's hard to think about what might have been if the press had carried out its duties differently over the last four years — if the press had shown more courage and not allowed itself to be bullied by a mad man.
• What if the press had taken Trump's coup attempt more seriously over the last two months, instead of waving his strategy off as "performance art" and "bad sportsmanship"? What if news dispatches had regularly used “sedition,” “treason,” and “coup” to accurately describe the unfolding crisis? What if news that Trump had discussions about imposing martial law with advisors in a West Wing meeting had sparked banner headlines and widespread media calls for resignation?
• What if national media outlets had refused to play any role in the GOP's attempt to denigrate the election process by denying a platform to Republican members of Congress who refused to say Joe Biden had won the election?
• What if Trump's pronouncement in September that he might not peacefully give up power if he lost the election had generated huge headlines across the country and network evening news coverage, instead of sparking crickets from the media?
*What if news outlets had accurately described Trump as an authoritarian ruler throughout his first term?
• What if while churning out ceaseless Trump Voters stories, reporters, especially at the New York Times, had addressed the dark undemocratic forces driving the right-wing movement, rather than innocuously portraying Trump loyalists as hark-working folks in search of a political voice?
• What if Twitter had taken the obvious step and banned Trump from the social media platform for violating its user terms of service almost every day of the year? Instead, bullied by Trump, Twitter twisted itself into illogical pretzels to make sure his violence-inducing calls to action were able to reach tens of millions of readers.
• What if the press had spent the last four years accurately describing key Republican players as "radicals," instead of suggesting they're merely center-right players? "Too much of the reality-based media has gone along for the ride, worried about accusations of leftist bias, wanting desperately to be seen as neutral, unwilling to be clear about how lopsided these sides are," noted Washington Post critic Margaret Sullivan, recently urging the adoption of the radical descriptor.
*What if the press had accurately and aggressively labeled Trump a liar every time he told a lie, instead of watering down his offense to someone who "traffics in falsehoods"? (There are some lies Trump has told more than 150 times in public, yet the word games continue.)
• What if Trump's erratic personality disorders hadn't become the third rail of American politics? There's not a reporter, producer or editor in the mainstream media who watched Trump for four years and didn’t understand he was unbalanced. Yet everyone agreed not to run front-page stories and evening newscasts quoting mental health experts, detailing Trump's likely disorders and what it means for America to have a sociopath in the Oval Office.
• What if the press hadn't invented new rules and treated every Trump utterance as breaking news, with cable outlets airing every minute of every White House briefing live?
• What if the press had told the truth about Trump's unhinged and demented presidential rallies, instead of politely calling them "fiery"?
Wednesday's insurrection was Trump's crowning disgrace. And over four years, the press helped him get there.
🚨 GOOD STUFF:
It only took 47 months, but the Washington Post is finally calling for Trump’s removal from office. I’ve written extensively about the moral cowardice of newspaper editorial boards across the country refusing to demand Trump’s resignation, despite his four years of lawbreaking.
So yes, it’s a good move by the Post. And yes, it comes comically late:
The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Mr. Trump resisted, should do so. Mr. Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
🎧 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Demi Lovato, "Commander in Chief"
Lovato’s stinging 2020 indictment is especially fitting today.
Commander in Chief, honestly
If I did the things you do, I couldn't sleep
Seriously, do you even know the truth?
We're in a state of crisis, people are dying
While you line your pockets deep