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The Media Mutes Trump's Crazy
Plus: Even more shots!
Rolling into the weekend:
Liz Cheney has some thoughts on Speaker Jim Jordan: "If they were to decide that, there would no longer be any possible way to argue that a group of elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution." —Newsweek
Trouble for My Pillow Guy: Lawyers for Trump ally Lindell seek to quit election defamation cases — Reuters
Run away, Brave Sir Donald: Trump drops suit against former lawyer Michael Cohen - POLITICO
The Security Risk-In-Chief: Trump allegedly discussed US nuclear subs with foreign national after leaving White House: Sources - ABC News
Too little. Too late: At Tampa campaign stop, DeSantis embraces new anti-Trump tack — Tampa Bay Times
“A growing number of anti-Trump Republicans are giving up — and giving into the belief that nothing will stop him from winning the GOP's presidential nomination.”
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Muting Trump’s violent rhetoric
Consider: Over the last several days, Donald Trump has called for the execution of one of the nation’s top generals, threatened prosecutors, mocked the hammer attack on Nancy Pelosi’s elderly husband, and endorsed more extra-judicial killings.
For the most part, the media shrugged.
“I had expected every website and all the cable news shows to lead with a story about Trump demanding the execution of the highest military officer in the country," the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg told the Wapo. “If Barack Obama or George W. Bush had done so, I’m sure [the news media] would have been all over it.”
A week ago, Trump fired up a raucous crowd of California Republicans by calling for shoplifters to be shot.
And we will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft. Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store!
(CROWD CHEERS WILDLY).
(CROWD WHISTLES AND CHEERS WILDLY).
CROWD: TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!
DONALD TRUMP: And everything will immediately stop. You won’t have any more of that.
Trump’s advocacy of extrajudicial killings was widely covered by newspapers and TV stations in California but generally ignored by the national press. No mainstream TV network carried his speech live or excerpted it later that night. CNN and MSNBC mentioned it during panel discussions over the next few days. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and PBS didn’t report it at all. The New York Times wrote about it four days later, playing the story on Page 14 of its print edition.
Has the media learned nothing? Or is this just another example of Brian Klass called the “Banality of Crazy”?
“Bombarded by a constant stream of deranged authoritarian extremism from a man who might soon return to the presidency, [journalists] have lost all sense of scale and perspective,” Klaas wrote.
“But neither the American press nor the public can afford to be lulled. The man who, as president, incited a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol in order to overturn an election is again openly fomenting political violence while explicitly endorsing authoritarian strategies should he return to power."
Earlier this week, I spoke with Farhi about the media’s Trump problem.
Charlie Sykes, a writer and founder of the political-analysis website the Bulwark, was also flummoxed by the torpid press reaction to Trump’s comments about shoplifters.
“If the former president of the United States endorses extrajudicial killings of shoplifters, and we have to ask, ‘Is that newsworthy?’ we need to reevaluate what we regard as important,” he said.
It suggests, Sykes said, that the news media still hasn’t figured out how to cover Trump, more than eight years after he announced he was running for president.
Since leaving the White House, Trump has openly floated a number of proposals that may exceed both federal authority or the Constitution itself. He has advocated using the military to fight street crime and deport undocumented people. He has also proposed forcibly removing homeless people from cities and sending them to encampments operated by the federal government.
And he has praised or defended authoritarian foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
News organizations need to take Trump’s statements both “literally and seriously,” says Susan Glasser, who has documented Trump’s presidency as an author and correspondent for the New Yorker.
Bonus: Threat of violence? What threat of violence? “A man with a gun was arrested at the Wisconsin Capitol after asking to see the governor. He returned with an assault rifle.” - CBS News
The Crazed Slavering Jackal Caucus
On yesterday’s new episode of the Trump Trials, I was joined by Lawfare’s Ben Wittes. We talked about the fall of Kevin McCarthy, the race to replace him, and why Donald Trump seems to be losing his sh*t in New York.
You can listen to the whole thing here…. Or watch us on YouTube:
For those of you want even more shots, we aim to please…
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1. The Next Speaker Will Be a Vengeful One
Jordan is unique among the Republicans running for speaker in the many ways he engaged in a long and concerted effort to stoke fears about voter fraud and overturn the 2020 election. Both Scalise and Hern voted against certification of the election, but Jordan’s behavior leading up to the attack on the Capitol stands out.
In the months and weeks leading up to the 2020 election, Jordan regularly posted on social media and appeared on TV warning that Democrats would “rig” and “steal” the election. He spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Pennsylvania two days after the election. In the weeks following the election, Jordan appeared many times on Fox and Newsmax, where he made outlandish false claims like “6,000 votes in Michigan went for Biden but they were actually supposed to go for President Trump.” He made similar claims about Georgia as well.
Prior to January 6, 2021, Jordan strategized with the Trump legal team on contesting the election. Right before the attack on the Capitol started, Jordan objected to the certification of Arizona’s votes on the House floor. After the rioters had finally broken their way into the House chamber and Jordan was off hiding with other lawmakers, staff, and journalists, his official House account posted, “Stop the violence. Support Capitol Police.”
2. Kevin McCarthy Found Out He’s No Donald Trump
KEVIN MCCARTHY IS THE LATEST but doubtless not the last Republican to find out that when you’re Donald Trump, they let you do it—and when you’re not, they don’t. So many deals, so many pledges, so many lies and reversals, so much hypocrisy and selling out. So much disregard for principle, truth, and consequences.
And for what?
3. The Republican Delusion Machine
For seven years, Republicans have protected and enabled Trump, the most corrupt and lawless president in American history. They crave to believe that Biden is as bad or worse, and they won’t be denied that craving by pesky details such as its crazy untruth. The next ringmaster will have to deliver a more exciting act to the most frenzied fans in the circus seats.
For the rest of the country, all of this threatens more crisis, more drama, more misgovernment, until one of two things happens. Either Republicans will overcome their taboo against reality and find some way to strike deals with their opponents, or voters in November 2024 will replace this dysfunctional majority that lives by lies with a functional majority that can work with facts.
Ari Fleischer. Hack.
Right-wing journalist processes the various stages of grief.