Donald Trump’s supporters complain the media are fixated on the billionaire’s wild and crazy campaign while ignoring or at least downplaying Hillary Clinton’s gaffes, missteps and scandals.
And they’re right. There is a double standard.
Actually, it’s a multipronged standard.
For some in the mainstream media, good old-fashioned left-wing bias is at work. Every four years, the Republican presidential candidate is treated like some alien warlord wandering in from the badlands beyond the frontier to seize power in our glorious capital city.
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One small example: It’s a nostalgic exercise now to think back to 2012, when Mitt Romney explained how, after being elected Massachusetts governor, he worked with women’s groups so he could hire more females for his administration. He said the groups sent “binders full of women” – i.e., binders full of resumes – to review. In other words, Romney did exactly what feminists want politicians to do but used the phrase “binders full of women.” The mainstream media ran around like their hair was on fire.
They should remember that the next time they wonder why so many Trump supporters discount media hysteria about Trump.
But what about the conservative media? Notwithstanding some talk radio and Fox News opinion hosts, and a few Trump-friendly political operatives moonlighting as pundits, most of the conservative press is hostile to Trump. I am part of this group. I am a senior editor at National Review magazine, which has been extremely critical of Trump for the most part (though we have published some dissenters).
Objections to Trump from the right cover the waterfront. But virtually every conservative I know – including those openly saying they will vote for her – thinks Clinton is awful. Indeed, many of the mainstream reporters I know think she’s pretty terrible too.
As libertarian satirist P.J. O’Rourke (un-satirically) said on NPR: “I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises. It’s the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she’s way behind in second place. She’s wrong about absolutely everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”
Thanks to my fear of bursting into flames, I can’t vote for Clinton – I’ll write-in some third choice – but I think O’Rourke’s analysis offers insight into the media coverage as well.
If you don’t think Clinton and her husband are aloof, entitled graspers and grifters, it’s probably because you haven’t been paying attention. And that’s the problem. Their grafting and grifting is so well established, it never really surprises anyone. In a normal, healthy political system, the Clintons would be shunned. But we don’t live there, so the Clintons bore rather than shock.
This is Hillary Clinton’s greatest advantage. The devil we know is a boring, paper-pushing bureaucrat.
Meanwhile, what no one can deny: Trump is not boring. When you drive past a part of town that has been blighted all your life, you don’t slow down to look at it. But if an 18-wheeler loaded with bovine manure jackknifes on the highway, sending its cargo in all directions, whether you’re horrified or amused, you’ve just gotta take a gander.
This rubber-necking magnetism largely explains Trump’s primary victories, but it also explains his probable general election defeat.
Enough primary voters loved the spectacle, but general election voters are apt to recoil at such a spectacle in the Oval Office.
Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review. Email: JonahsColumn@aol.com.