In the past week or so, there have been a flurry of media stories and opinion pieces about the President, too many of which are focused on what I think are lesser concerns or which take the wrong tone on certain matters.
I’m not talking so much about the military strikes. They are clearly newsworthy, though much of the coverage is not nearly critical enough when the President’s possible motives are taken into account, not to mention what the effects of the strikes are, whether short or long term. The big problem is that the coverage seems to be trying to find something rational or well considered in the President’s behavior, when there is nothing at the core.
This desperate search for normalization also appears in the many news stories and opinion pieces about what may or may not be shake ups in the White House, specifically those concerning Steve Bannon. Nearly every major media outlet covering this has attempted to somehow portray this as a move toward the center or some type of traditional conservatism as opposed to Bannon style white nationalism. Jared Kushner is, laughingly, portrayed in these stories as some kind of New York Liberal. Kushner may be chafing now, but he has worked with known racists like Bannon and Steven Miller throughout the campaign and in the administration all along.
Even if Bannon is forced out or quits, does Miller go too? What about Seb Gorka, an advisor whose credentials are called into question by many serious analysts.
Even if every Breitbart aligned nationalist were to leave the White House staff, it would still leave the deranged elephant in the room, Trump himself. Much of the coverage of the White House staff problems takes the position that fixing the staff will somehow allow Trump to become more normal and function like a real President. There are two problems with this. First, it absolves the President of responsibility for his actions and, secondly, it ignores the fact that he himself is the problem.
The reason the Trump White House is a toxic, dysfunctional environment is because Trump himself is toxic and dysfunctional. He is in over his head. He doesn’t appear to care about the job. All he seems to care about is applause. The linked opinion piece says it better than I ever could (it’s written by a Republican, btw).
I realize “the media” is a vast variety of print, web, tv and radio outlets, but I have heard and read far too much about palace intrigue and Trump normalization than I would like. It seems to me that coverage of some of the most dangerous and harmful aspects of the Trump administration has been downplayed.
What am I talking about?
For one, I believe Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, is probably second only to the President himself in terms of harmfulness to the values and principles we should hold dear. His re-declaration of the war on drugs is a thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression and an attack on state’s rights. He also wants to end consent decrees between the DOJ and various cities police departments, even when the cities themselves welcome these agreements and their positive effects on policing. His position on several other matters is also questionable.
The administration’s immigration policy seems to have fallen off the media radar in a big way. The public should be very concerned about phone and computer searches at airports as well as ICE raids that may be denying due process to those who are targeted.
A harsh and violent deportation policy is no substitute for coherent immigration reform, which is likely something both parties in Congress could actually come to agreement on. While Trump campaigned heavily on an anti-immigrant position, plenty of GOP in congress realize that their state’s economies can not entirely function without immigrants.
There is mounting evidence that current policies are already hurting the economy, especially in tourism.
What else should be front and center in the news? How about the fact that Education Secretary and Amway heiress Betsy DeVos has removed regulations that protected student loan borrowers.
I could go on about the harmful things the administration is doing for many pages. I haven’t even mentioned the EPA , women’s reproductive health or the fact that the President came into office with no solid health care plan, despite campaigning heavily on it. Then there is the matter of Russian interference in the election, a vast topic in and of itself.
I urge everyone to side step the sometimes distracting headline stories and dig into the serious stuff.