The Cultural Failure That Makes Spouting Nonsense About Trump Possible
The unutterable nonsense that President Trump is somehow responsible for the plan of a group of lunatics in Michigan to kidnap their governor, Gretchen Whitmer, succeeds the asinine theory that Trump was endangering the health of his security unit by driving around the block at Walter Reed Hospital in his car last week waving to well-wishers.
Like an immense mythological monster, Media Trump Hate must be hurled each week, or sometimes more often, in an arsenic-laced dosage of malicious fiction at the Trump campaign.
There have been so many of them that very few can now be remembered even those that were momentarily taken seriously by reputable observers, such as the idea that lawyer Michael Cohen paying blackmail to Stormy Daniels, constituted an illegal campaign donation.
Since Trump paid Cohen’s bill for allegedly unspecified services it wasn’t a donation and since Stormy was trying to do the blackmailing, it was only an offense in the demented imagination of CNN’s momentarily favored candidate for president, Stormy’s beleaguered counsel Michael Avenatti, (whom she soon fired for over-billing).
The governor’s own erratic imagination suggested that Trump somehow motivated those who imagined that they could kidnap the governor of Michigan and extract concessions while the rest of the country including the federal government looked on as if it was an attempted coup d’état in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Since Trump had been highly critical of her encroachment upon the First Amendment rights of assembly of the people of Michigan, by restricting their ability to engage in most collective activity including churchgoing, and in the absence of convincing evidence that such impositions reduce the incidence of the coronavirus, the governor naturally accused the president of inciting criminal and life-threatening behavior directed at her.
This is the Red Queen school of evidence-gathering and prosecution followed by almost the entire U.S. media in respect of the president. This is the same refined school of jurisprudence exhibited by that well-known jurisconsult Don Lemon (CNN) when he declares that any reference by President Trump to the existence of any human beings of a different pigmentation to himself constitutes “a racially charged statement.”
Nothing could be simpler: the week has not gone by when the president has said or done something or failed to say or do something which must be assumed to be the cause of a real or apprehended unpleasant event.
There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that the public is particularly convinced by the sort of thing though the 40 percent or so of Americans who dislike the president are pretty indulgent of such imputations, no matter how implausible they may be. But the majority seem not to pay much attention to it.
One of the many things that is generally lost sight of in this election is that it is as much a test of some other people and institutions as it is of the president himself. The overwhelming majority of the national political media have determined that the fate of the Trump presidency is a matter of life and death to their own credibility.
Over 90 percent of the national political media opposed Trump’s election in 2016 and have continued with unvarying stridency to oppose his incumbency and his reelection. If in these media-hostile circumstances he is reelected, it will be a decisive defeat for the ancient and rarely questioned ability of the media to raise up and tear down officeholders.
If Trump manages to overcome this extreme and almost uniform animosity of the media, they will surely, finally have to consider the possible necessity of trying once again to separate reporting from comment, and returning to the ancient wellsprings of the dignity and indispensability of the free press.
All polls indicate that despite the frenzied and relentless efforts of almost all of the national media to destroy the president, he is respected and admired by approximately three times as great a percentage of the American public as are the media, who have the questionable distinction of being on all fours butting heads with the United States Congress in the lowest ranks of public esteem.
There is an inborn danger to democracy itself and the entire constellation of rights and beliefs that go with it when the public are contemptuous of their legislators and of the free press. Ultimately in political societies those institutions of which the public is contemptuous are dispensed with; we must surely be a considerable distance from that point still in the United States, but it is an unhealthy and a worrisome condition.
The palsied state of the media is largely a phenomenon of the collapsed state of public education. It is one of the great and haunting ironies of our entire Western civilization that the more money we consecrate as societies to education and especially higher education, the less educated the graduates we produce, and the less capable they are of pursuing economically self-sustaining careers on the basis of what they purport to have studied.
Teachers’ unions have reduced many schools to the level of mere daycare centers, and lazy, underworked and tendentious university faculties have imparted what is technically described as white oikophobia: national self-hate, to American students. Universities have largely become unemployment-deferral centers where scandalous amounts of resources are squandered on obscure subjects. The Canadian public intellectual Jordan Peterson makes the point that nothing described as “studies” is in fact an authentic academic subject.
If we start from the premise that in terms of the quality of its information the traditional media is a disgrace, we soon will get to the worrisome fact that the only way to deal with that is to have a more informed and demanding public. Since the media are the problem they are not going to generate that progress in the taste of their readers and viewers and listeners, so a more informed public can only be the result of educational endeavors.
Only when schools actually teach students to do necessary things, to develop some intellectual curiosity, and some aptitude to study and concentrate, and universities are obliged by those who fund them to observe reasonable standards of objective truth in teaching humanities, and to avoid squandering excessive quantities of their resources on subjects of no possible relevance to any but a handful of the curious and the eccentric, will the population slowly develop the intelligence necessary to demand better service from news and entertainment providers. And only then will advertisers require more product-integrity also.
As it is we have major sports leagues prostrated in self-abasement before the totalitarian regime of China while domestically, vastly overpaid players for vastly overvalued franchises mock the national anthem and the flag and demand the abolition of the police and of prisons.
More contemptible than these hypocritical agitators are the flabby white sports executives who go along with them rather submissively, including National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell. They have buckled to the players and offended the fans. The silent majority lives, but like everyone else in Trump’s America, is confused.
The Trump administration is pledged to promote betters schools through private, charter, faith-based, and community organized schooling, and to incentivize more responsible universities. If the administration is not reelected the country will be significantly further down the well.
But whatever the outcome of the election it is a profound problem that will ultimately threaten the entire society: a more educated population is necessary to produce a more accurate media to increase the value the nation places on the democratic rights that it exercises. Whether the president wins or loses in November, the country will not be able to go on blaming everything on him much longer.
Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He’s the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” which is about to be republished in updated form.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.