Glenn Greenwald writes:
As Donald Trump’s campaign predictably moves from toxic rhetoric targeting the most marginalized minorities to threats and use of violence, there is a growing sense that American institutions have been too lax about resisting it. Political scientist Brendan Nyhan on Sunday posted a widely cited Twitter essay voicing this concern, arguing that “Trump’s rise represents a failure in American parties, media, and civic institutions — and they’re continuing to fail right now.” He added, “Someone could capture a major party [nomination] who endorses violence [and] few seem alarmed.”
Actually, many people are alarmed, but it is difficult to know that by observing media coverage, where little journalistic alarm over Trump is expressed.
Really? Everywhere I look there has been no shortage of voices of alarm — everywhere other than, perhaps, The Intercept.
Greenwald and his colleagues have too often seemed more concerned about the hypocrisy of Trump’s critics than about Trump.
On March 4, for instance, Greenwald wrote:
in many cases, probably most, the flamboyant denunciations of Trump by establishment figures make no sense except as self-aggrandizing pretense, because those condemning him have long tolerated if not outright advocated very similar ideas, albeit with less rhetorical candor.
The same day, The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz wrote:
Over 90 “members of the Republican national security community” have now signed an open letter to express their united opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. The letter makes many reasonable criticisms of Trump for his “military adventurism,” “embrace of the expansive use of torture,” and “admiration for foreign dictators such as Vladimir Putin.”
But some of Trump’s critics have no standing here, given that they’ve publicly supported or even directly participated in the same kinds of things for which they are now criticizing him.
At the end of February, The Intercept’s Zaid Jilani saw “Trump moving the GOP to a more dovish direction” — the context of that dubious prediction being the fact that Trump’s success “is setting off alarm bells among neoconservatives who are worried he will not pursue the same bellicose foreign policy that has dominated Republican thinking for decades.”
One gets the sense that at The Intercept, a resurgence of the neocons strikes louder alarm bells than Trump’s rising power.
But today Greenwald writes:
Imagine calling yourself a journalist, and then — as you watch an authoritarian politician get closer to power by threatening and unleashing violence and stoking the ugliest impulses — denouncing not that politician, but, rather, other journalists who warn of the dangers.
Except that seems to be pretty much what Greenwald himself and his colleagues have been doing.
Sounding the alarm about Trump has been the mainstay of the mainstream media for months — even though that alarm has often been diluted by the false expectation that Trump would cause his own campaign to implode.
The problem for those whose own overriding preoccupation is criticism of the establishment/government/media has been a reluctance to echo a mainstream critique of Trump and thereby risk appearing to be in alignment with the forces one rigidly opposes.
Those who pound too hard on the anti-establishment drum are opening up a real danger in November.
If, as seems likely, it comes down to a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, a significant number of Bernie Sanders’ current supporters may decide not to vote for the establishment candidate, Clinton, and some may even opt for Trump, not because they agree with him but because they see intrinsic value in shaking up the system.
If, for the sake of his readers, Glenn Greenwald wants to unequivocally register the degree to which he is indeed alarmed by Trump, maybe he can say right away that in a Clinton vs. Trump general election, in spite of the mountain of misgivings he has about Clinton, he will nevertheless vote for her. But maybe he won’t.
(And just in case anyone is wondering: In my state’s primary, I just voted for Bernie Sanders. If the general election turns out to be Clinton vs. Trump, I’ll vote for Clinton.)