Sunday, November 22, 2020


Frank Bruni, the shallowest columnist on the New York Times op-ed page, embraces the modish notion that we're all addicted to Donald Trump:
Who Will We Be Without Donald Trump?

He lost. We’ll have to stop obsessing about him.

A friend was all worked up about the possibility of Trump 2024.

“I can’t go through this again!” she cried. But what I heard was that she couldn’t stop going through this. Her contempt for Donald Trump is too finely honed at this point, too essential a part of her psyche. Who would she be — conversationally, politically — without it?

Another friend sent me an email in which he’d worked out the economics of a web-only Trump news channel of the kind that Trump may — or may not — start. With minimal investment, Trump could rake in millions and millions!

We were supposed to be breathing a huge sigh of relief about Joe Biden’s victory. But instead he was finding a fresh source of outrage about Trump.

And here I am writing about Trump — again. It’s a tic, not one I’m proud of. But I’m surrendering to it now....
Get a grip, Frank. It's fine to keep writing about Trump, at least for now. Trump is still with us. He destroys democracy a little more every day. People who study fascism express serious concern about his ongoing efforts to overturn the results of the election.

But if we can ever be rid of him, we'll be fine. Trust me, I know. Years ago I obtained a copy of The Book on Bush: How George W. Bush (Mis)leads America by Eric Alterman and Mark Green, as well as The Man Who Would Not Shut Up, a biography of Bill O'Reilly by Marvin Kitman. There was a time I thought I'd read these books. But Bush and O'Reilly passed from the scene and I just ... didn't. I gave the books away. If I think about Bush or O'Reilly now, I remember how much I despised them and how angry I was at the damage they'd done to America. But I rarely think about them. I'm much more concerned with the people who are actively doing harm today.

That's how I'll be once Donald Trump is no longer a figure of influence in America. I'll be fine. The rest of his critics will all be fine.

You know who actually is addicted to Trump? Republicans. Here's a story in Bruni's paper:
Ronna McDaniel, Mr. Trump’s handpicked [Republican National Committee] chairwoman, has secured the president’s support for her re-election to another term in January, when the party is expected to gather for its winter meeting....

So far nobody has emerged to challenge Ms. McDaniel....

A number of state chairs said in interviews that they had already committed to her and her co-chair, Tommy Hicks Jr., who is close to the president’s elder son....

Notably, Mr. Trump has gained even more influence over the committee in the past two years because two of the president’s top campaign aides, Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, worked to install Trump supporters in state-level party posts....

Most strikingly, [McDaniel] told one party leader that if the committee does not rally to her, she will be succeeded by somebody even closer to the president, such as Donald Trump Jr. or his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle....

This “alternative-would-be-worse” theory, along with a deeper apathy about the national party, has prompted a number of Republican lawmakers and strategists to make peace with Ms. McDaniel’s serving another term. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Representative Leader Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, have both endorsed her re-election in recent days.
Trump's functionaries have injected so much Trump into the GOP's veins that withdrawing from him would be the most painful detox of all time.

The other group that can't quit Trump -- as Bruni acknowledges -- is the media.
The test for the mainstream media is our ability to turn away from Trump even if he remains a potent audience draw.

... there’s no doubt that chronicling and commenting on how bad Trump is for democracy has been good for business. It also made virtuous sense: His station and power justified coverage of every tweet and bleat. His attempt to steal the election demands exactly the scrutiny it’s getting, as does the assent of his base and most of his fellow Republicans....

But [in the future] he ... won’t be nearly as relevant as he is now, and that compels news organizations to ratchet down his presence in a huge way, potentially turning our backs on easy stories that would have been raptly consumed by readers and viewers still consumed by their disgust with him. I worry about our resolve.

“With Biden you’re not going to have these wild rallies,” Jim VandeHei, a co-founder of Axios, told Bloomberg recently. “You’re going to have speeches on budget reconciliation. I don’t think that’s going to light people’s hearts afire.” He added that “there’s no way you’re not going to see lower cable ratings and some reduction in traffic to websites.”
I suspect that the press is gearing up to just keep covering Trump -- in fact, the Times published a story titled "Win or Lose, Trump Will Remain a Powerful and Disruptive Force" the day after the polls closed. In the comments to that story, one reader wrote:
Mr. Trump's disruptive voice, if he loses, will remain prominent if the members of the various media choose to give him the high platform given him for four years. They can give him a platform to be as prominent or more so than Mr. Biden. Certainly, Trump will be more attractive to readers and viewers than Biden. He's the showman. Biden is not. He can bolster newspaper circulation and TV ratings in a way that Biden cannot. The more Trump prominence, the more interference in the healing needed by the country. Media leaders will determine that ratio. Millions of Americans hope that they will choose healing over popularity of their products.
I certainly hope the media will dump Trump. I don't expect it to happen, but if it does, I'll be delighted.

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