Long-Term Damage: Media-Made Trump’s Rot Will Outlast Him
Even if they unearth videotape of Trump in bed with Putin – or with Putin's dog – and remove him from power, the vicious, nasty, little racist cretin Jeff Sessions will still be in office, doing untold damage. He is now leading an aggressive crusade to “untie the hands” of militarized, brutalizing police forces across the country — especially the ones who have been slapped with federal restrictions for their confirmed, egregious, endemic, systematic racism. Sessions wants to set them loose on the uppity darkies who stir up the ancestral ghosts in his slavers’ blood and trouble his dreams with quaking fears and forbidden desires.
Trump’s removal — as desirable as it is — will do nothing to rectify the damage he’s already done or stop the further wreckage that his regime will do for the next four years, whether he’s in the White House or not. It’s inconceivable that the genuinely weird and hateful Mike Pence would remove soulmates like Sessions from office should he take over from Trump. Pence could conceivably be even worse, as a relieved nation — and media/political establishment — give him a free ride (“The grown-ups are back in charge!”) while he accelerates the destructive policies of Trump and the radical extremists in Congress (and in state houses all over the country).
But the ascension of sinister little goobers like Session was always going to be the end result of the boundless free publicity the media gave Trump during the campaign, with even our lib-lauded "rock star" dissidents at SNL yukking it up with the Donald, normalizing him. As it happens, my first intimation of this involved Sessions.
I was in an airport on a visit to the US, with the ubiquitous TV screens hanging down everywhere, blaring the news, and the commercials. (God forbid anyone should be able to sit in a public place and think their own thoughts without constant bombardment by commercialized inanity.) During my long lay-over, I saw CNN showing an entire Trump rally -- the whole thing, unedited, uninterrupted, all the poison lies pouring out of his mouth and the nutball surrogates who preceded him on the stage. Then Trump introduced Sessions, who became the first US senator to endorse him. I kept thinking: What the hell is going on? I’d been following US politics since the LBJ-Goldwater race, and I’d never seen ANY political rally by ANY candidate given that kind of wall-to-wall coverage. I could understand cutting to the rally for a few minutes of the Sessions endorsement as breaking news, but that's not what was happening. I was in the waiting area for more than two hours, and the entire time was given over to Trump and his sick crew. Why? Even incumbent presidents running for re-election never got airplay like that. None of other GOP candidates were getting anything near that kind of coverage. Hillary Clinton got only a bit more than they did. It goes without saying that Sanders and his mass rallies of thousands of supporters where ignored almost entirely. But the cameras kept running for Trump.
We now know the president of CBS, Leslie Moonves, bragged about how good Trump was for the corporation's bottom line, even if he was "bad for the country." We also now know that the Clinton campaign itself had a deliberate, extensive strategy to push Trump to its many media contacts as a "serious" candidate, in order to undercut what they believed to be more credible threats to her chances. The media and political establishments — now so horrified by Trump that they’re begging the blood-soaked spies and covert operators of the “intelligence community” to save them from the big bad monster — were the chief engineers of his political rise.
They pushed him and promoted him, knowing full what he was — a dangerous ignorant demagogue with an openly authoritarian bent. They knew —CNN knew, CBS knew, Clinton knew — the risk such a figure posed to the nation should he get elected. They knew he was “bad for the country.” But their profits — and their personal ambitions — were more important to them. It was more important to Clinton to help elevate an existential threat to American society because she thought it would help her. It was more important to the networks to boost Trump because of the big bounce to their bottom line. (And if he won, his rapacious, pro-corporate economic policies would help them as well. With two eager pro-corporate candidates in play, the election was always going to be a win-win for them). They knew the risk — but they took it anyway. And why not? Neither the multimillionaire Clinton nor the multibillion-dollar corporations would suffer the consequences of a Trump presidency.
Now here we are, and here we will be for the next four years – or even eight years, given the current state of the Democratic Party, and inability of that gaggle of corporate sellouts, war-profiteering pimps and neo-McCarthyite nutcases to offer any genuine, hopeful alternative to Republican extremism, beyond more of the same callous, soulless neoliberalism that has decimated the party in the first place. The wall-to-wall coverage — and Clinton’s secret promotion — of Trump are not the sole factors in his disastrous victory, of course; but without them, we almost certainly not be in the ever-deepening hell where we are today.