After losing an election by seven million votes, Trump's still waging a ghoulish war on election integrity. He's also reportedly preparing to preemptively pardon dozens of aides as he continues to run the White House as a criminal enterprise. There's not a guardrail in sight that Trump hasn't torn down.
Inexplicably, the Washington Post at this late date is still running puff pieces on key West Wing players on their way out the door. The normalizing never stops. For the Post to be doing it just weeks before Trump leaves office represents an egregious lapse in newsroom judgment — one likely driven by access journalism.
Chained to the narrative that Republicans are savvy and that Trump surrounds himself with superstars, the press showers attention and praise on people who not only fail at their jobs, but actively shred public trust for a living.
The Post recently reported that White House communications director Alyssa Farah had resigned. Instead of emphasizing that Farah oversaw the White House communication strategy for only the fourth incumbent president in more than 100 years to lose re-election, or how Trump leaves office as the most consistently unpopular president, or that for four years the White House had no discernible communications strategy (it was whatever Trump decided to tweet), or that the White House communications shop is filled with chronic liars who cannot be trusted, the Post simply portrayed Farah as "a hard-working professional who generally had a strong relationship with the White House press corps."
The fact that Farah and others on Trump's communication team continue to land soft coverage is especially odd considering how Trump has treated the press, demeaning them at ever turn, and at times even putting their health at risk. Last spring, after Farah became White House communications director, Trump addressed the media in the Rose Garden where reporters were forced to sit shoulder-to-shoulder as the White House blatantly disregarded Center for Disease Control guidelines for social distancing. Trump officials said the packed-in seating arrangement looked "better" on TV.
"I notice you’re starting to get much closer together — looks much better, I must say," Trump said in the Rose Garden, as he urged the country to throw off restrictions designed to combat the spread of Covid-19. That media humiliation was part of a long string of put-downs and purposeful embarrassments for the White House press corps, as concocted by the Trump administration.
It was no coincidence that after years of Trump's deliberate and dehumanizing rhetoric about how journalists represent "enemies of the people," members of the media were assaulted at an unprecedented rate while covering nationwide protests over racial inequality this year.
Yet the Beltway press is still toasting members of Trump's media team, the ones who have helped him carry out his "fake news" war on the Fourth Estate. The disconnect is jarring.
"If you get this flattering of a story after orchestrating a four-year assault against journalists, Biden team has zero incentive to be more respectful to reporters," tweeted Democratic strategist Eric Schultz.
The Post has also been busy toasting Ivanka Trump. The paper assumes she's built up a powerful political constituency while running corrupt errands for her father:
Former friends, colleagues and associates of the couple believe wherever they live, the first daughter will be contemplating how to maximize her political capital — whether that means an actual run for office, or a gauzier influence in Republican circles in a world where President Trump still holds enormous political sway…Interviews with over a dozen individuals painted a picture of a woman who, much like her father, is interested in leveraging the platform and global relationships she gleaned from her starring role in Washington.
The Post piece relied mostly on anonymous sources to describe Ivanka as "impressive," "glamorous," "a perfect bridge to conservative women," and a "“a creative visionary” who has “handled herself wonderfully."
As for political aspirations, the Post noted, "If the couple return to Manhattan, there could be an opportunity to run for the 12th Congressional District, which covers parts of the Upper East Side, against Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), who narrowly defeated a primary challenger to hang on to her seat, the person close to the couple noted."
According to the Post, Ivanka might have her eyes on New York's 12th Congressional District, with the implication being the seat would be in play if Ivanka ran as the Republican candidate.
Fact: Rep. Maloney won that seat with 80 percent of the vote last month, and over the last 145 years, New York's 12th has elected exactly one Republican to Congress. But the Post casually suggests Ivanka might be able to become the second. This is pure fantasy, and is driven by a glowing media perception of Ivanka that is completely divorced from reality.
My hunch: Farah and Ivanka have likely been helpful sources for reporters documenting the White House palace intrigue; those nameless West Wing aides who sometimes confide to reporters, off the record of course, that some staffers are concerned about Trump's behavior. These sources get rewarded with pleasing press profiles, as a way to thank them for their anonymous quotes, and helping to provide the appearance of access to the Trump White House.
That's how the game gets played. And that's why the Post is still publishing puff pieces on the incompetent Trump White House, one month before the circus is forced to close its doors.
🩺 GOOD STUFF:
One of the points I've consistently made during the Trump era is that the press hasn't been straight forward about his obvious personality disorders. News outlets should have covered the topic as a pressing news story for years, consulting experts and examining the long-term ramifications for the country.
AlterNet recently interviewed Dr. Lance Dodes, retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who addressed exactly that:
Trump has publicly shown himself to be not just mentally unwell but perhaps even a sociopath or psychopath. Sick leaders attract sick followers. Sick leaders also amplify the various mental and other pathologies of their followers and inner circle. Sick leaders channel and therefore worsen the most unhealthy and unjust aspects of a given society. In all, Trumpism is a type of collective social and civic disease spreading throughout America.
🎸 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
The Replacements, "Alex Chilton" (2020 Remaster)
When America's best '80s rock band actually tried to be America's best '80's rock band — that was 1987's Pleased to Meet Me album, from Minneapolis' gift to despondent youth, The 'Mats.
Filled with Hall of Fame entries like "The Ledge," "Skyway," and "Nighclub Jitters," Pleased to Meet was the famously disjointed, destructive, and dysfunctional band doing its best, however briefly, to capture its alt-rock magic in the studio.
The rocket ship at the center of the album was Paul Westerberg's ode to the lead singer of the iconic power-pop band, Big Star. Sung with a ferocious love of rock 'n roll, "Alex Chilton" features Chris Mars' ride-or-die drumming and a hammer guitar hook for the ages.
The whole album was recently remastered and "Alex Chilton" sounds even better — if that's possible.
Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round
They sing "I'm in love. What's that song? I'm in love with that song."
"I'm in love. What's that song? I'm in love with that song."