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A key reason today's Republican Party continues to become more radical, embracing anti-democratic initiatives and serving as obedient stewards in Trump's war on truth, is that members pay no price in the press when they embrace extremist behavior. Today, Republicans who refused to say President Joe Biden won the election fairly are routinely welcomed onto television news programs for friendly discussions.
The media continue to send a clear message to the GOP: There are no rules of conduct for you.
That's how we ended up with the recent Washington Post puff piece on Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and professional Trump loyalist. After spending weeks trumpeting lies that Trump's loss was because of election "fraud," McDaniel is rewarded by the Post, which gladly whitewashes her egregious behavior, and instead presents her in a glowing light, as well as with a pleasing photo spread, for a rehabilitation profile that McDaniel's press team certainly loved.
It's a perfect example of how Trump's conspirators not only avoid judgment from the Beltway press, they're often toasted as being sweet ("unfailingly amiable"), savvy (McDaniel brought a new "vibe" to the RNC), and hardworking — she slips out of Mormon services and takes business calls from her car!
Note that the generous profile, which locked out any Democratic critics, ran in the Post's well-known Style section. Being gently profiled there is the clearest way to signal to elites within the Beltway culture that the person portrayed is a political star who's in good standing with the Establishment. Trying to overturn elections? Threatening the fabric of democracy in order to fulfill Trump’s raging ego? All is forgiven in the friendly pages of the Style section, which spends paragraphs recounting McDaniel’s privileged upbringing.
It's hard to imagine a newsroom surveying the current political landscape and deciding the chairman of the RNC, who has overseen the party's loss of the White House, House, and Senate, as well as a murderous Republican mob that ransacked the U.S. Capitol, as being someone who's riding a real hot streak.
But today's GOP is populated with so many-bad faith actors, the Beltway press seems to have thrown up their hands and decided to treat them all as responsible, honorable people. In theory, it makes sense because whoever runs the RNC, just like whoever runs the Democratic National Committee, has been by Beltway definition, a Serious Person. None of those old protocols apply in the Trump era, yet the press clings to traditions and gives people like McDaniel a pass for truly atrocious and dangerous behavior — like trying catapult the country into a Constitutional crisis at the hands of an autocratic ruler.
The fact that McDaniel volunteered to serve in the most dangerous and sustained attack on free and fair elections in this country? The Post politely claimed that while she initially "pushed early for investigations into possible voter fraud in the 2020 presidential balloting," over time, she "accepted that [Trump] was defeated at the polls."
Perhaps this is now the line the Beltway press uses for Republicans: If they spent a few weeks suggesting the election was stolen from Trump — instead of a few months — that means they're still a Serious Person.
Fact: A Michigan native, McDaniel was instrumental in suggesting there was widespread fraud in her home state. Her choreographed attacks were part of an elaborate GOP lie about the Michigan election, which culminated with Capitol Building offices in Lansing, MI, being shut down after threats of violence. McDaniel also pushed the fabricated story that election workers in Georgia secretly counted ballots in the middle of the night after telling Republican officials to go home.
Immediately following the November election, the RNC’s official twitter account posted video clips of Trump's deranged election attorney Sidney Powell making baseless, incoherent claims about corruption and fraud. And it was McDaniel's RNC that hosted the infamous press conference last November where Powell and Rudy Giuliani aired a ceaseless stream of incoherent election lies, while brown hair dye dripped down the side of Giuliani’s face on national television.
The Post reported, "McDaniel later told allies that she regretted" hosting that disastrous press conference. In real time though? McDaniel remained silent about Trump's team spreading election lies around the clock. The Post also stressed that "in private" she told Trump his stolen election claims were "crazy." Yet not once did McDaniel publicly condemn the torrent of election lies that Trump pushed, purposefully inciting rage among his extremist followers.
As for the deadly insurrection that has claimed seven lives? (Five people died that day, two police officers later committed suicide.) “I don’t think [Trump] intended to incite violence on the Capitol,” McDaniel claimed. The Post provided no pushback to that hollow claim.
McDaniel "is as guilty of spreading the lies that incited a violent mob on January 6th as Donald Trump,” NBC’s PeacockTV host Mehdi Hasan recently noted. “And she should be reminded of that for the rest of her career in politics.”
Style section, take note.
(photo Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
🇷🇺 GOOD STUFF:
Trump’s not going away, obviously. So it’s important to keep learning about the force that has upended today’s GOP. In his new book, American Kompromat, investigative journalist Craig Unger examines Trump’s longtime ties to Moscow, which date back decades before his political career, and what that association has come to mean:
According to Unger, there are indications that Trump was used as a conduit for Soviet covert messaging campaigns in the late 1980s. He made numerous visits to Russia where he was certainly watched, feted and cultivated. At the time, he publicly expressed thoughts that were far outside of mainstream Western opinion. For example, he complained that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was destroying the Soviet Union — suggesting perhaps relations with KGB elements that shared such a view. Unger cites former KGB officer Yuri Shvets, who served in Washington at the time, saying of Trump: “The guy is not a complicated cookie, his most important characteristics being low intellect coupled with hyperinflated vanity. This combination makes him a dream for an experienced recruiter.”
🍺 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Hailey Whitters, “Fillin’ My Cup”
I’m always intrigued by songs that start right out of the gate with the chorus, instead of saving for after the first verse — it’s like having dessert before the meal.
Here’s a great example, from Whitters’ wonderfully catchy new single, which hooks you in with the first ten seconds with its last-call chorus.
It ain't the bartender, it ain't the bottle
It ain't the headache I'll have tomorrow
It's a high-low life when you shake it on up
Fillin' my cup