I almost never listen to NPR, because I find its constant mealy-mouthed equivocation harder to bear than an Ann Coulter rant:
By almost any standard, President Donald Trump’s rally on Tuesday evening in Milwaukee was a bizarre affair. The president went on a lengthy tirade about lightbulbs, toilets, and showers; touted war crimes; joked about a former president being in hell; and said he’d like to see one of his domestic political foes locked up.
I tried to capture some of the speech’s disconcerting oddness in my write-up of the event. In many ways, the remarks the president made were typical of him. And that provides the media with a challenge: Describing Trump as he really is can make it seem as if a report is “anti-Trump” and that the reporter is trying to make the president look foolish.
But for media outlets that view themselves as above taking sides, attempts to provide a sober, “balanced” look at presidential speeches often end up normalizing things that are decidedly not normal.
A brief report about Trump’s Milwaukee speech that aired Wednesday morning on NPR illustrates this phenomenon. The anchor’s intro framed Trump’s at times disjointed ramblings as a normal political speech that “ranged widely,” and the ensuing report (which originated from member station WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio) characterized his delivery as one in which he “snapped back at Democrats for bringing impeachment proceedings.”
“Trump was taking on Democrats on their own territory,” the reporter said, when in reality Trump heaped abuse on them, for instance, suggesting former Vice President Joe Biden is experiencing memory loss. . .
On Twitter, Georgetown University public affairs professor Don Moynihan noted that NPR’s report about the rally “mentioned specific topics like Iran and impeachment but carefully omit the insane stuff. This is one way the media strives to present Trump as a normal president.”
NPR is far from alone in struggling to cover Trump.
President Trump may need a history tutor.
A Very Stable Genius, a new book by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig based on hundreds of interviews, alleges Trump seemed to know next to nothing about the events of Dec. 7, 1941 when he visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii for a private tour of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial alongside his former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general.
“Hey, John, what’s this all about?” Trump reportedly asked Kelly. “What’s this a tour of?”
All this reminds me of Orwell’s claim that H.G. Wells was too sane to understand someone like Hitler:
What has Wells to set against the “screaming little defective in
Berlin”? The usual rigmarole about a World State, plus the Sankey
Declaration, which is an attempted definition of fundamental human
rights, of anti-totalitarian tendency. Except that he is now especially
concerned with federal world control of air power, it is the same gospel
as he has been preaching almost without interruption for the past forty
years, always with an air of angry surprise at the human beings who can
fail to grasp anything so obvious.
What is the use of saying that we need federal world control of the air?
The whole question is how we are to get it. What is the use of pointing
out that a World State is desirable? What matters is that not one of the
five great military powers would think of submitting to such a thing.
All sensible men for decades past have been substantially in agreement
with what Mr Wells says; but the sensible men have no power and, in too
many cases, no disposition to sacrifice themselves. Hitler is a criminal
lunatic, and Hitler has an army of millions of men, aeroplanes in
thousands, tanks in tens of thousands. For his sake a great nation has
been willing to overwork itself for six years and then to fight for two
years more, whereas for the commonsense, essentially hedonistic
world-view which Mr Wells puts forward, hardly a human creature is
willing to shed a pint of blood.
NPR and their ilk are not so much too sane as they are too cowardly to understand someone like Trump, who is a criminal lunatic in command of the most powerful military force in the history of the world. Pointing out the latter fact in words of one syllable is not something that the respectable media are prepared to do, because they must keep themselves respectable, and that’s just not the kind of thing that one says, even if it’s illustrated by events a half dozen times every day.