Robert Reich: Four Ways The Mainstream Media Is Quietly Helping Trump And His Republican Allies – OpEd


The mainstream media is helping Trump and his authoritarian allies in four ways. 

First, it’s drawing a false equivalence between Trump and Biden — claiming that Biden’s political handicap is his age, while Trump’s corresponding handicap is his criminal indictments.

Rubbish. Trump is almost as old as Biden, and Trump’s public remarks and posts are becoming ever more unhinged — suggesting that advancing age may be a bigger problem for Trump than for Biden.

Why isn’t the mainstream media reporting on Trump’s increasing senescence?

Secondly, every time the mainstream media reports on another move by Trump and his Republican allies toward neofascism, it tries to balance its coverage by pointing out some fault in the Democratic Party (such as the ongoing federal corruption and bribery case against Senator Bob Menendez).

The net effect is for readers to assume all politics is rotten. A recent Washington Post article was headlined, “In a swing Wisconsin county, everyone is tired of politics.”

Voters who are turned off by politics are less aware of Biden’s accomplishments — and the media is hardly reporting on them. 

One person interviewed by the Post admitted, “I can’t really speak to anything [Biden] has done because I’ve tuned it out, like a lot of people have. We’re so tired of the us-against-them politics.”

As if the “us-against-them politics” is the fault of Democrats as much as it is Trump Republicans. In fact, Trump’s GOP is the party of dysfunctional politics.

Which brings us to the third way the mainstream media is quietly helping Trump. It makes it seem as if the dysfunction in Washington is coming from both parties. 

“How do Americans feel about politics?” The New York Times asked recently, answering in the same headline: “‘Disgust isn’t a strong enough word.’”

What the Times failed to report is that much of the GOP no longer accepts the rule of law, or the norms of liberal democracy, or the legitimacy of the opposing party, or the premise that governing requires negotiation and compromise.

Yesterday, the Times attributed the coming wave of departing lawmakers across both chambers and parties to the “breathtaking dysfunction on Capitol Hill,” without telling readers that the dysfunction is entirely due to the Republican Party.

Finally, blaming both sides for this chaos plays into Trump’s and his allies’ goal of wanting Americans to believe the nation has become ungovernable, so it needs a strongman. 

The worse things seem, the more convincing is Trump’s case for an authoritarian like him to take over. “I’d get it done in one day.” “I am your voice.” “Leave it all to me.”

Focusing on government dysfunction ignores Biden’s steady hand. This makes America more likely to fall into Trump’s and his allies’ neofascist hands.

As we head into the critical election year of 2024, the mainstream media must adapt to a new political reality: The contest is no longer between Democrats who want more government and Republicans who want less. It is between democracy and fascism.

This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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