Trump, Journalists and Politics Porn

A few months ago, the trendy insult hurled at Donald Trump was that he is just like Hitler.

I dislike Trump’s style and some of his policies, too. (Unlike the other two candidates still in the race, however, he’s not the subject of an FBI investigation that could transfer him from the White House to the big house, and he doesn’t subscribe to the economics school of Joseph Stalin.)

But not everyone I dislike is necessarily Hitlerian. So I wrote a column titled “Is Trump just like Hitler?” in which I patiently explained that he’s not. To contend that he is trivializes the enormity of Hitler and the plight of his victims.

Maybe I succeeded. Trump is no longer called Hitler.

But now a whole new set of names are on the name-calling menu. Just here in Aspen, Trump has recently been name-called an egomaniac, a racist twice, an ignoramus, a xenophobe, a misogynist twice (are they incapable of originality?) and a boob (well, I guess that’s original, but it’s meaningless).

And that’s just here. Go national, and you’ll see that this person who is drawing about half the nationwide votes is name-called such things as bigot, stupid, a–hole, fat, demagogue, jerk, idiot, race-baiter, narcissist, sexist and man-slut.

One pundit called him the “Lord of the Rings” nonhuman character Gollum.

In a television interview, Trump’s wife was read a long list of ugly names her husband has been called while the cameras captured her reaction and broadcast it to the world. In what passes for “journalism” these days, that passes for “news.”

One criticism leveled against Trump is that he has dragged political discourse down into the gutter. That criticism is legitimate; he has. But was it necessary for journalists to join him there?

Yes, it was, for two reasons — both of which are bad. First, that’s where the people are. Just as Trump has found voters there, journalists have found readers there.

This symbiosis between Trump looking for voters and journalists looking for readers has all the authenticity of professional wrestling. It’s not a fight; it’s a show.

If glitzy auto shows with ridiculously overdone cars are “car porn,” then this spectacle between Trump and journalists is “politics porn.” It’s staged and it’s vulgar, but it’s eye-catching and it sells.

The second reason that journalists have leapt to join Trump with crude name-calling in the gutter of politics porn, on the pretense of condemning it, is more subtle.

You see, name-calling is a tool designed for people who are insecure, and rightly so. It enables such people to simply assert something that they are incapable of demonstrating — their superiority. It does not inform and does not persuade. It’s not designed to.

So when an insecure journalist name-calls Trump “conceited,” he doesn’t persuade or inform his readers that in fact Trump is conceited, nor does he intend to. He simply asserts without evidence his intellectual and moral superiority over Trump.

Not to be left behind in the race for intellectual and moral superiority, the next insecure journalist (there are plenty of them) descends deeper into the gutter by name-calling Trump with the epithet “egotist.” The next one dives even deeper with the psycho-babble “narcissist,” and soon they’re down to the psychiatric term “sociopath,” and eventually they’re at the very bottom, where they trot out bug-eyed “Gollum.”

What name will journalists call Trump next, in their odd and ironic contest to claim intellectual and moral superiority over him by the crudity of their name-calling? Will they name-call him a mass murderer? An anti-Christ? A cannibal? A nose-picker?

I’m reminded of the elementary school playground, where in substitution for analysis and debate there were third-grade and third-rate name-calling competitions.

Mark my words: Some so-called journalist at some so-called newspaper in the so-called profession of so-called journalism will win a Pulitzer so-called Prize from his defeated but admiring peers by name-calling Trump a “poo-poo breath.”

You’d better make that “President Poo-Poo Breath.”

(Published May 29, 2016 in the Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/22200774-113/beaton-trump-journalists-and-politics-porn)

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