“If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer.”
The power of subliminal advertising has been a subject of debate since the days before Don Draper became a Madison Avenue legend in the pre-#MeToo world of Mad Men. But there is nothing subliminal in the ubiquitous presence of Donald Trump and his felicitous minions in the mainstream media, not least, CNN, the New York Times, the PBS News Hour and other respectable news channels. And it is in those supposedly liberally-biased sources of Fake News and not in the overtly pro-Trump broadcasts of Fox News that the key to his re-election lies.
One need to look no further than the universally-covered debut of Kayleigh McEnany, the latest White House press secretary, in the first WH press briefing in more than 13 months, to demonstrate the issue. Despite Ms. McEnany’s photogenic appearance (false eyelashes!) and Harvard Law School degree, she is merely the latest example of an administration zombie, immediately reneging on her promise never to lie, by dutifully repeating such salacious tropes as “the complete and total exoneration of President Trump” in referring to the Mueller Report and the new Trumpian favorite “miscarriage of justice” on the prosecution (persecution) of Michael Flynn.
Of course the latter statement is setting up the inevitable pardon of Flynn (“it was an FBI setup”) leading to the question of which one of his band of rogues is next. The betting favorite is Roger Stone, convicted of, what else?, lying about his connections to Julian Assange and intimidating a key witness (“we need to bring him back to re-open the essential haberdashery business”). But, after that, the list of candidates is virtually endless: John Wilkes Booth? (“did anyone alive today actually see him kill Lincoln?”).
But the question is, really, why do the mainstream media time after time fall into the trap of giving credibility to this obvious propaganda? Why is the latest Presidential Twitter tantrum regarded as news? And why is the nightly briefing supposedly about the Covid-19 crisis charging into our quarantined living rooms over every major station, allowing DJT to spout non sequiturs and utter Constitutional nonsense (“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.)"?
The answer, at least to me, is that the Times (“all the news that’s fit to print”) and its ilk are just too timid not to give space to the obvious non-news spewing from the WH. While there has been much commendable and objective journalism in this era of Trumpian falsity, there are too many headlines like the controversial “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism.” In their efforts to appear fair, the mainstream media bend over backwards to prove their judiciousness by trying to be appear balanced, reasonable and truthful. In other words, they are intent on proving that they not going to act like Trump.
And the more this goes on, the more likely that Trump will be re-elected. With Joe Biden bunkered in his basement and fumbling with the inevitable Presidential barrage on the Tara Reade allegations, Trump is given free rein to do what he does best, make a fool of himself. But he loves having the stage to himself, and it is the best that he has without the adoring multitudes at his frenzied rallies. That may pose a formidable challenge for the Democrats in the fall.
I don’t expect much of this to change, But, for the present, expect to hear more from McEnany. With her Catholic high school cheerleader looks and polished presentation, she could be the Tracy Flick for our times. It almost makes me wish for the return of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. At least she was truthful about her lying.