Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Donald Trump raped his wife! Mogul hates breast-pumping lawyer! Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Pardon me if I roll my eyes. Or just laugh out loud at the cynicism of the whole thing.
The other day the Daily Beast ran a story — this story right here — that purported to tell a presumably gullible public that Donald Trump had raped his wife. Really. The headline was as follows:
Ex-Wife: Donald Trump Made Me Feel ‘Violated’ During Sex: Ivana Trump once accused the real-estate tycoon of ‘rape,’ although she later clarified: not in the ‘criminal sense.’
The very first paragraph of this story by reporter Tim Mak read as follows:
Donald Trump introduced his presidential campaign to the world with a slur against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of being “rapists” and bringing crime into the country.
Bluntly put? That is flatly untrue. A deliberate falsification of Trump’s speech. Trump was talking then — and ever since — about…illegal immigration. Not “Mexican immigrants” but “illegal immigrants.” A very considerable difference in fact. And in that context, as has been documented repeatedly, Trump was and is 100% correct. Even vociferous Trump critic, ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry, has made this point, telling Sean Hannity just a year ago:
“Sean, there have been over the course of the last five years, since the fall of ’08, over 203,000 individuals who have come into Texas illegally who have been booked into our county jails. Those individuals have accounted for over 3,000 homicides and over 8,000 sexual assaults. We can’t afford to wait for Washington to secure this border. We’ve had enough.”
Mak’s story went on and so infuriated Trump’s ex-wife Ivana that she issued her own statement defending Trump, saying: “The story is totally without merit.” When a furious Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, went ballistic over seeing his boss being called a rapist, suddenly the story was Cohen. The following day the New York Times came up with another Trump horror — he had actually had the nerve to say to a lawyer who wanted to take time out to use a breast pump and feed her baby “disgusting.” This gem — designed to make Trump look like some sort of Neanderthal — replaced the rape story as the newest media club with which to beat the leading GOP candidate. What with his long and successful career in business, buckle in for more of these Trump gotcha stories as the campaign proceeds.
Let’s get real here. These Trump stories are not about what they seem to be about. They aren’t really about rape or breast pumps. They aren’t about Mexican immigrants or, to use another recent round of anti-Trump stories, Trump and John McCain’s war record.
No, what this is about is the regular-as-clock-work media treatment of leading Republican presidential candidates. Let’s look at a little history.
2012: Mitt Romney emerges as the probable GOP nominee. Suddenly, the Washington Post runs a front page story headlined:
Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents
The paper dredged up an incident from fifty — say again, fifty — years earlier in which Romney, a well-known prankster, led a group of other boys in holding down some classmate who had longer than usual hair and cutting it off. And oh yes, the boy grew up to be gay. Presto! The man with the long reputation as an upright Mormon, a man of profound kindness and decency, was now being portrayed as a snarling anti-gay bully. Based on, again, a fifty-year-old tale from his days as a boy prankster in prep school.
2008: For decades John McCain had been portrayed by the media as the war hero senator. The Senate’s man of integrity and maverick politics who was willing to take on his party’s conservatives. But by February of 2008, McCain was now on his way to the GOP presidential nominee. And on the front page of the New York Times suddenly exploded this story headlined:
For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk
Risk? What risk? Well, it seems, says the Times, that McCain was being made to deny that he was having “a romantic relationship” with a female lobbyist. Presto! The old war hero was now suddenly a sleaze, a man whose pretense of ethics was in fact a sham as he dallied with a hot lobbyist decades his junior. The story was false. A lie. The woman in question sued, the suit settled a year later with the paper issuing a “Note to Readers” saying that it did not “intend to conclude’’ that the two were having an affair. By that time, of course, McCain had lost the election to Obama.
2000: It is the Friday before the tight election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Suddenly a Portland, Maine television breaks a story. Thirty years earlier, the young George W. had been arrested on a DUI charge during a summer visit to the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport. The story — the work of a Maine Democratic operative — went everywhere. Days later came the election, with the consequent turmoil unsettled until repeated recounts and a Supreme Court decision gave the election to Bush.
But those examples are relatively recent. Let’s go back a ways — to the 1964 election between the GOP’s Senator Barry Goldwater and President Lyndon Johnson.
As September of that year arrived, suddenly a liberal magazine was in the news. Let’s turn to Goldwater biographer Lee Edwards, author of Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution.
When it seemed that the anti-Goldwater campaign could sink no deeper in calumny, the September-October issue of Fact magazine appeared, with its cover trumpeting in large black letters: “1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater Is Psychologically Unfit to be President!” A questionnaire had been sent to 12,356 psychiatrists in the United States asking, “Do you believe Barry Goldwater is psychologically fit to serve as President of the United States?”
As it turned out, nearly ten thousand psychiatrists refused to participate in such a farce, but 2,417 responded with 571 saying properly, that they did not know enough about Goldwater to answer the question. That left 1,189 who said they thought Goldwater was not psychologically fit — without having questioned him or following any of the other normal procedures in a physician-client relationship. Another 657 respondents said the senator was psychologically fit. In its analysis of the poll, Fact liberally quoted psychiatrists who compared Goldwater with Hitler and Stalin, described him as “paranoid,” “megalomaniacal,” “unstable,” “dangerous,” and “a mass murderer at heart.”…
The New York Times and other papers published full-page Fact ads trumpeting that Goldwater was “psychologically unfit to be president.” They were well aware that Ralph Ginzburg, editor and publisher of the grotesquely named Fact, had been convicted in a federal court of printing and distributing pornography and was currently out on bail.
Now. What do we see here? It’s called a pattern. In fact, when it comes to the political leanings of journalists, what we are seeing unfold in the Trump episodes is in fact an old story. Over at the Media Research Center it is noted that years ago (1981) then-George Washington University professor S. Robert Lichter and Smith College’s Stanley Rothman surveyed the voting habits of journalists between 1964-1976 and found:
• 81 percent of the journalists interviewed voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election between 1964 and 1976.
• In the Democratic landslide of 1964, 94 percent of the press surveyed voted for President Lyndon Johnson (D) over Senator Barry Goldwater (R).
• In 1968, 86 percent of the press surveyed voted for Democrat Senator Hubert Humphrey.
• In 1972, when 62 percent of the electorate chose President Richard Nixon, 81 percent of the media elite voted for liberal Democratic Senator George McGovern.
• In 1976, the Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, captured the allegiance of 81 percent of the reporters surveyed while a mere 19 percent cast their ballots for President Gerald Ford.
• Over the 16-year period, the Republican candidate always received less than 20 percent of the media elite’s vote.
Safe to say, some version of this pattern has continued until today. And also safe to say, it is gospel among the conservative grass roots that this results in like-clockwork media assaults on their candidates. When a Republican is on his way to being nominated or has actually been nominated, suddenly the liberal media sweeps in and there it is: Goldwater — unstable, paranoid, dangerous. The next Hitler. Bush — a drunk. McCain — sleazy, unethical cheater. Romney — a bigoted, anti-gay bully. (And in the case of Bush, soon enough post-Iraq the mantra would be “Bush lied” in terms of the
And now? Now it’s Donald Trump’s turn. He’s leading in the polls, there is this spectacular Trump surge on-going. So out comes the media firestorm machine. Trump says all Mexicans are rapists. Trump says McCain isn’t a war hero. Trump raped his wife. Will Trump fire his lawyer over rape comments? Trump hates breast-pumping women.
Is it any wonder that in today’s world the base of the GOP looks at all these anti-Trump stories and sees nothing more than, to borrow from Justice Clarence Thomas (himself a target of one of these episodes) the latest high-tech lynching of an uppity conservative? Is it any wonder that Rush Limbaugh looked at all of this and was alone in correctly predicting that while all the media and GOP elites were predicting the end-of-Trump as a result of his McCain comments, in fact the base of the GOP understood exactly what the real game was and would rally even more strongly to Trump?
No, it isn’t.
So the Trump surge continues. And without doubt, the realization that now — as it once was for Barry Goldwater, George Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney (and yes, that’s only a partial list — there are others with names like Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle, Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, the aforementioned Clarence Thomas etc., etc., etc.) — so too will it now be for Donald Trump.
The difference this time? Donald Trump fights back — which is exactly what makes his fans cheer him on.