Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the Internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. This week it’s all election, all the time, with the great saga of media figures and Republican Nominee Donald Trump. Today, particularly, in the tense discursive aftermath of Jimmy Fallon’s snuggle-fest, it seems a good time to devote a space specifically to the reasons why Trump shouldn’t be allowed to be defanged by media spectacle.
The drama of Trump and the media seems to be reaching some kind of climax. This morning, critics were aghast at the soft-peddling questions Jimmy Fallon posed to the candidate. “In fact, the host seemed to have built the entire 10-minute segment around an end goal of doing exactly that; all of the other questions were mere window dressing intended to lull him into a false sense of security. Fallon wanted to ruffle Trump’s hair, and ruffle it he did,” wrote David Sims.
“One reason for Trump’s rise has been the effective merger of the entertainment and political-campaign industries. Jimmy Fallon accelerated that process tonight,” wrote James Fallows.
“Jimmy Fallon is not a journalist, but Jimmy Fallon is a taxpaying American citizen with a minimal obligation to help keep a tyrant from reaching the most powerful position in the world. He failed that obligation last night,” wrote John Hendrickson at Esquire.
Twitter was hardly more kind:
Meanwhile, Seth Myers actually had a substantive chat with Bernie Sanders.
The reason this morning-after discussion is important is because it goes back to one of the themes of the election — which is about the media’s efforts to be “fair” backfiring, and the endless chasing of one-off stories that Donald Trump has been baiting the press with. As Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us this week, this is about race. It’s always about race: “Indeed, what Breitbart understood, what his spiritual heir Donald Trump has banked on, what Hillary Clinton’s recent pillorying has clarified, is that white grievance, no matter how ill-founded, can never be humiliating nor disqualifying. On the contrary, it is a right to be respected at every level of American society from the beer-hall to the penthouse to the newsroom.” He continues:
For much of this campaign journalists have attacked Hillary Clinton for being evasive and avoiding hard questioning from their ranks. And then the second Clinton is forthright and says something revealing, she is attacked—not for the substance of what she’s said—but simply for having said it. This hypocrisy carries a chilling implicit message: Lie to me. Lie to the country. Lie to everyone.
Did reporters listen? Sort of, but not entirely this morning, when Trump “rick-rolled” them by calling a press conference allegedly about birtherism — but in fact, about his hotels. Greg Sargent writes that the media can’t lose sight of Trump’s history of birtherism: “the debate over what Trump really believes must not be permitted to distract from the full and true nature of Trump’s starring role in this whole despicable tale. That full story should not be airbrushed out of today’s coverage. Trump explicitly fashioned himself as the world’s most famous birther, because he recognized that Republican primary voters were uncomfortable with the idea of the first African American president.”