A frenzied pack of reporters chasing frightened Republican candidates is a familiar sight these days. It’s not one or two Republicans. There are whole flocks of them, running into traffic to avoid talking to reporters about Donald Trump. It’s becoming a hazard. They need their own crossing sign, like the Darting Migrants.
The Mainstream Media, which has so often tried to pass itself off as independent, tolerant, and even edgy has undergone an amazing transformation since Trump declared his candidacy. No longer trying to be Joe Cool, they’ve suddenly morphed into perpetually scandalized, pearl-clutching etiquette mavens who flutter at Trump’s every utterance. They’re intensely interested in ethical questions related to Civility, and see tolerance as a weasel tactic of a secret Trump ally. They dog the footsteps of the GOP candidates, challenging them to answer for all Donald Trump says: “Do you condemn Donald Trump’s comments or endorse him?”
That puts the Generic Candidate in a weird spot. Maybe he likes Trump or maybe he thinks the nominee is a jerk. Either way, Trump is the nominee and the main Get Out the Vote attraction. It’s crafty because the candidate must publicly attack the guy on whom all his hopes are pinned, or support him while knowing the media will superimpose offensive Trump comments on his campaign literature.
The reporters’ relationship with the Democrats is different. The major papers openly endorse Clinton and Politico even allowed the Clinton campaign to review and edit stories before they are published. They avoid covering Hillary Clinton’s unpopular stances, her scandals, and her threats of war. It hasn’t occurred to the media to follow Democrats around, demanding they disavow or endorse lying under oath and selling State Department access to hostile foreign powers.
The media bias is obvious and absurd but it’s hard to laugh at. I would not care if the media was a lapdog for both parties. I would love it if they were hard on all politicians. The Republicans and Democrats are equally bad so the media’s habit of demonizing one side and campaigning for the other aggravates my basic sense of fairness.
The Republican politicians are forever trapped in the same story, in which they are plagued by the dimwitted media. Like perpetual passengers of the S.S. Minnow, only less attractive and interesting.
Meanwhile, the Democratic politicians, are more like OJ Simpson, post-acquittal. They delight in flaunting their untouchability and are probably penning books with titles like I’m not a Corrupt Puppet for Lobbyists (but if I were, you could reference this book to buy my vote). The media enables it, so maybe they are OJ’s dream team? That analogy broke down somewhere.
The real Elephant in the room is that the party of the Mule is much better at propaganda. It isn’t the message or the results. It’s the packaging. All Republicans have to do is create a few hip-looking photo ops and pay off a few celebrities. Throw the media a bone, and it will wag its tail and fetch you balanced coverage.
Today, I saw a clip of another Republican playing Verbal Twister and wondered: Why does he have to play the media’s game? He could just say: “You know what? I’m running my own campaign about the issues I care about. I don’t represent Trump, and I’m not going to answer for what anyone else says or does. Why don’t you ask about what I’m going to do?”
If Republicans thought that way they wouldn’t be stuck on Gilligan’s Isle, but they’ve chosen the route they believe is safer. They’ll have to make the best of things, it’s an uphill climb.