Monday, September 18, 2017

Nothing Will Ever Make Señor Trumpanzee "Normal"


Jay Rosen teaches journalism at NYU in New York City. It was no surprise to Rosen when Trump started showing the rest of America what made him someone that very few New Yorkers were willing to vote for-- something like 18%. (Trump did slightly better than that in his own rich white people precinct-- 28.92%, with Hillary taking 67.47%.) Sunday, Rosen penned a short essay for an NYU project, PressThink, about the conflict Trump has embedded in the what he calls the "journalist's code"-- a conflict, he points out, that was created by a president wholly unfit for the job. What he had to say, though, isn't just for journalists, but for all sentient Americans.
Most every journalist who covers Trump knows of these things:

1. He isn’t good at anything a president has to do. From the simplest, like pretending to help out in flood relief, to the hardest: making the call when all alternatives are bad. (We’re told he can be charming one-on-one. So maybe that’s his one skill.)

2. He doesn’t know anything about the issues with which he must cope. Nor does this seem to bother him.

3. He doesn’t care to learn. It’s not like he’s getting better at the job, or scrambling to fill gaps in his knowledge.

4. He has no views about public policy. Just a few brute prejudices, like if Obama did it, it was dumb. I do not say he lacks beliefs-- and white supremacy may be one-- but he has no positions. His political sky is blank. No stars to steer by.

5. Nothing he says can be trusted.

6. His “model” of leadership is the humiliation of others-- and threat of same. No analyst unfamiliar with narcissistic personality types can hope to make sense of his actions in office.

It’s not like items 1-6 have been kept secret. Journalists tell us about them all the time. Their code requires that. Simultaneously, however, they are called by their code to respect the voters’ choice, as well as the American presidency, of which they see themselves a vital part, as well as the beat, the job of White House reporting. The two parts of the code are in conflict.

If nothing the president says can be trusted, reporting what the president says becomes absurd. You can still do it, but it’s hard to respect what you are doing. If the president doesn’t know anything, the solemnity of the presidency becomes a joke. That’s painful. If they can, people flee that kind of pain. In political journalism there is enough room for interpretive maneuver to do just that.

This is “normalization.” This is what “tonight he became president” is about. This is why he’s called “transactional,” why a turn to bipartisanship is right now being test-marketed by headline writers. This is why “deal-making” is said to be afoot when there is barely any evidence of a deal.

What they have to report brings ruin to what they have to respect. So they occasionally revise it into something they can respect: at least a little.



At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I don't know. He's pretty normal in THIS shithole of a country.

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

No, Anonymous above, he is not "pretty normal". We have never had such a craven lying monster as President so don't generalize Trump, he is one of a kind.

Also, Anonymous, our country is not a shithole - that could be a quote direct from Trump and your saying it is ridiculous and extremely offensive. After all, it is Trump who has called our country a disaster and the White House a dump. There are many great things about this country and its people. We have faced disasters before - look at slavery, look at civil rights - and taken them on. There is tremendous resistance to Trump. He is despised by a great many people and the numbers keep rising.


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