Trump successfully baits media into hysteria. Again.
The anti-Trump media (another name for the mainstream media) have resumed their frenzied claims that Donald Trump is out to unleash indescribable horror in the American people. The current version of doom is that he is calling for NRA assassins to kill either Hillary Clinton or her Supreme Court nominees, or both. What he actually said was this:
By the way if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.
Within thirty minutes, according to Rudy Giuliani, interviewed on Fox News this morning, the Clinton spin machine had shaped the media narrative. Trump was not calling for electoral activism (at a rally of electoral activists!). No, he was calling on “Second Amendment People” to use their evil guns to kill someone or other.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times handily summed up the conventional wisdom, his forte.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated.
His right-wing opponents just kept delegitimizing him as a “traitor” and “a Nazi” for wanting to make peace with the Palestinians and give back part of the Land of Israel. Of course, all is fair in politics, right? And they had God on their side, right? They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible.
But there are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.
And that’s what the Jewish extremist Yigal Amir did to Rabin. Why not? He thought he had permission from a whole segment of Israel’s political class.
In September, I wrote a column warning that Donald Trump’s language toward immigrants could end up inciting just this kind of violence. I never in my wildest dreams, though, thought he’d actually — in his usual coy, twisted way — suggest that Hillary Clinton was so intent on taking away the Second Amendment right to bear arms that maybe Second Amendment enthusiasts could do something to stop her. Exactly what? Oh, Trump left that hanging.
Because everyone knows that Trump’s followers are barely civilized, some of them in more distant regions man-ape hybrids. And everyone knows that “Second Amendment people” are not united behind part of the Bill of Rights; they are using that as disguise of their true nature as bloodthirsty assassins.
The media are once again making themselves appear ridiculous, twisting Trump’s words and exposing their own disdain for Trump’s followers. They are following a general script. Samantha Strayer of The Federalist identifies the pattern:
The media frenzy surrounding this election, the 24/7 news-cycle, and Trump’s gumption ensure we’re constantly talking about him, analyzing his every move. (snip)
many criticisms of Trump have been rather hysterical, sophomoric, and downright lewd. As if set on auto-repeat, headlines, tweets, and the like squeal XENOPHOBE! FASCIST! RACIST! DEMAGOGUE! PUDGY FINGERS! Eerily in sync, media outlets and Trump haters described his convention speech — and his soul! — as DARK!
Trump obviously knows this, and yet he keeps feeding anti-Trumpers ambiguous opportunities to vent their mania. There are two possible means of explaining this. Either, as a friend who shall remain anonymous emailed me:
- “Trump went one whole day without saying something really stupid. Two days was too much to ask.” Or
- Trump is exercising some political jujitsu, able to anticipate the opposition’s reaction and planning to use their momentum against them.
If Trump had so little self-awareness and self-control as the first alternative hypothesizes, could he have built the empire he has created? I would note that in The Art of the Deal, he brags about psyching out his rivals in negotiations.
Consider four propositions:
- A huge share of the public, over two thirds, are dissatisfied with the way the country is working.
- These dissatisfied people are angry at what they perceive as a bipartisan rigged system in league with special interests.
- A huge share of the public distrusts and is angry at the media.
- The media will never treat him fairly.
Given these conditions, it would make sense for Trump to capitalize on the media’s inability to be fair, and get them to anger his base to turn out. And also to discredit themselves in the eyes of persuadables in the general public. People who despise him are going to write bad things about him anyway, so why not push them over the edge into revealing more than they intend about their own prejudices?