Yesterday evening I witnessed something frightening.
The masterful jazz trombonist Robin Eubanks was performing at Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center with his big band. In his introduction to a composition titled “Yes We Can—Victory Dance,” he put in a plug for Hillary and asked everyone to vote. Only about half the audience applauded. The other half sat on their hands grimly. I could see many frowns on the faces and some uncomfortable body language.
That means that about half the audience at an upscale jazz club on Labor Day in liberal New York City are either supporting Donald Trump or vehemently opposed to Hillary Clinton. Of course, some may have just objected to entertainers interjecting their political opinions into their performance, but the piece the band was going to play was political in nature and we’re talking about jazz, a musical art form whose practitioners are much given to political statements in their work. (I’m hopeful that one day soon National Public Radio (NPR) will invite Eubanks on “All Things Considered” to discuss his political opinions, as it did the right-wing Merle Haggard four years ago to discuss why he hated President Obama.)
The frightening thing is that the large number of people not clapping—or cheering insanely—when Eubanks endorsed Hillary is that it suggests that Donald Trump may actually win, or at the very least that the mainstream media’s long campaign to make the country dislike Hillary Clinton has really succeeded (more on that below). Keep in mind that this audience was whiter and probably wealthier and more educated than the United States as a whole, but that means it was full of the educated whites who are supposed to be abandoning the GOP over Trump.
I would have hoped that, when faced with the choice between a poorly informed and compulsively lying narcissist who failed in business, cheated many people out of money and has a long history of racism on one side and a competent, educated public servant with a track record of achievement on the other, virtually everyone in the country other than unrepentant racists would embrace Hillary and that the crowd would have gone as wild over Eubank’s endorsement as they did over his wonderful music.
As the group played “Yes We Can—Victory Dance,” which at times required many of the group members to clap their hands in unison as if at a peace or civil rights rally, I surveyed the audience wondering about the motives for anyone supporting Donald Trump, even after his frequent inflammatory and often racist or sexist outbursts, his multitude of lies about the state of the country and his past, and the revelations that his real estate and casino businesses were mostly failures, that he is involved in 3,500 lawsuits and that he may have paid off at least two politicians to get lawsuits against his university dropped.
Based on months of following the Trump malevolence unfold, I have identified roughly five groups of Trump supporters, or perhaps I should write, five reasons to vote for Trump:
- Those who do not think a woman should be president.
- Supreme Court voters, those who will vote for Trump because he says he will nominate conservative Supreme Court justices (although I think virtually all people in this group primarily support Trump for one of the other reasons listed here).
- The ultra-wealthy and wealthy whose sole criteria for voting is who will lower taxes on the wealthy more, keep the minimum wage the lowest and impose the fewest regulations on their businesses.
- Those whom the news media have brainwashed to hate Hillary Clinton.
The last two groups have a causal relationship, as it is the ultra-wealthy who own the mainstream and right-wing news media that have demonized Hillary for the past 30 years, essentially holding her to a standard much higher than any other public official has ever been held. There are almost as many examples of the media treating Hillary differently from others as there are of Trump telling bold-faced lies:
- While there was no investigation of the 13 terrorist incidents at U.S. embassies around the world during the Bush II Administration, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent looking for something that Hillary Clinton did wrong to cause Benghazi or in the State Department dealings with the Clinton Foundation.
- There has been no investigation of the millions of emails the Bush Administration destroyed. Likewise no investigation of the emails of Condoleezza or Colin Powell even though the U.S. foreign policy under their leadership was pretty disastrous. Powell, BTW, advised Hillary to destroy her emails, which she didn’t do. I guess that’s why the media is going after Hillary for a lack of transparency.
- While conveniently forgetting Trump’s early support of the Iraq War and his many overt racist statements in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the news media continues to hammer Clinton over her vote to authorize the Iraq War and her husband’s support of the crime legislation of the 1990’s that proved to be de facto Jim Crow laws. The implication is that only Hillary among all those misled by the Bush Administration knew that the Bushies were lying and that among thousands including many civil rights leaders only Hillary understood the racial ramifications of tougher sentencing laws.
No one in the media mentions it, but when Hillary left her post as Secretary of State, she was the most popular person in the United States, if not the world. It was then that the news media resumed its anti-Clinton campaign of the 1990’s.
If you want to see a case history of unfair treatment of Hillary over the years, read the article of two years ago by Oliver Willis and Hannah Groch-Begley detailing the New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd’s 21-year-long verbal war against Hillary, all based on misperceptions, assumptions and Dowd’s special brand of social-psychobabble. Dowd’s unfair and mostly fabricated definition of Hillary has become the playbook for a large part of the mainstream news media: Hillary is a weak candidate because she is a policy wonk (which means she has no passion), and is graceless, sneaky, secretive, devious and open to corruption. Earlier in the election cycle, the news media kept their anti-Hillary sentiments under control, preferring to focus on Trump’s many outrageous statements, rude insults and personal feuds. In retrospect, it seems as if the anti-Trump coverage was always about trying to help any other Republican (other than Ted Cruz) secure the nomination.
Since it began looking like Hillary could win in a landslide, the mainstream and right-wing news media have ramped up their anti-Hillary storylines. At the same time, the media has begun to treat Donald Trump with the softest of kid gloves. His trip to Mexico was taken seriously. Many reporters actually bought the line that Trump had made his immigration policy less Draconian and extreme than it actually was. While ignoring prima facie evidence that Donald Trump paid off elected officials in Texas and Florida, the news media continues to pore over Hillary’s emails, finding that neither she nor the Clinton Foundation did anything illegal or even unethical, which the news media has hidden under assertions of “the appearance of unethical conduct.” Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” has made it his life’s work to sell the country on the idea that Hillary’s handling of emails was illegal. The media has touted the false and baseless rumors that Hillary is physically incapacitated, despite the fact that she has a standard doctor’s letter that covers all the information given by former presidential candidates. By contrast, the issue of Trump’s health quickly faded, even though the letter he has is completely unprofessional and appears to come from a quack. The media seems to have forgotten that Trump has still not released his taxes. For some reason the many bankruptcies, business failures, lawsuits and the fact that he has taken tax deductions available only to people with annual incomes under $500,000 have not compelled them to dig deeper or to probe further—they’re probably too busy trying to figure out how to spin the meeting of Secretary Clinton with a Nobel prize winner as part of a corrupt enterprise.
The day after Labor Day provides an excellent example of the mainstream news media’s stealth campaign against Hillary. NPR’s story on the campaign starts with what Donald Trump will be doing today, followed by a long quote by someone in the Trump campaign. The story ends with a short sentence on what Clinton is doing today, presented as an afterthought.
Meanwhile, the New York Times has a front-page story that draws parallels between the two campaigns. The article repeats the lie that there are “nagging doubts about her candidacy,” without specifying what those doubts might be. The writer presents Trump’s problems—primarily his lack of appeal to minorities—as a challenge that he is trying to overcome. Elsewhere, the Times prints a story about a Bernie Sanders rally for Hillary that focuses exclusively on the small number of Bernie supporters there who may not vote for Hillary. Near the end of the article appears the sentence: “Still, polls show that the majority of Mr. Sander’s former supporters, like Lauren Glass, 22, plan to vote for Mrs. Clinton.” The number of former Bernitians intending to vote for Hillary is actually 90%, making the statement “the majority” as close to a lie as a true statement can be. The angle for the story is completely misleading and meant to sow further “doubts” about Hillary.
The Times also carried a very positive story about the supposed influence of Norman Vincent Peale’s church on Donald Trump, despite the fact that Trump has never joined the church and never given it a contribution. Besides being a minister, Norman Vincent Peale was a religiously-based motivational speaker who wrote The Power of Positive Thinking. Peale’s optimistic conflation of doing well and doing good has made him a favorite of mainstream business-oriented Republicans since the 1930’s. If it wasn’t in the Times, I would swear that the article was part of the Trump campaign to appeal more to traditional Republicans, similar to his many speeches about helping African-Americans he has given to white audiences.
The Times also had a snarky story about Hillary, who on Labor Day let reporters ride with her on her jet for the first time in the campaign. This story continues the mainstream news media’s campaign to paint Hillary as unavailable just because she hasn’t held any news conferences. The “Hillary is not accessible” storyline demonstrates the underlying anti-Hillary sentiment in the mainstream news media. Hillary has given a tremendous number of one-on-one interviews. As a public relations professional for more than 30 years, I can state unequivocally that reporters prefer one-on-ones to news conference for several reasons: 1) They can ask more questions; 2) They can get into more depth on the issue(s) of most interest to them; 3) They are more likely to get exclusive breaking news, since by definition there can be no exclusive at a news conference attended by many. The news media should be happy that there are so many opportunities to talk to Hillary one-on-one, but instead they turn it around and make it part of a false narrative.
This news cycle also saw the announcement by one of the moderators of upcoming debates, Chris Wallace of Fox News, declare that he would not point out when either of the candidates makes a factual misstatement during his debate; Wallace must know he has given Trump carte blanc to lie as much as he wants in the debate.
This mainstream media support of Trump began in full swing as soon as the Khan controversy died down. And it seems to be having an impact. The latest polls show the race to be in a virtual tie. The latest CC-ORC poll has Trump up by two points, 45%-43%. Hillary still has a nearly insurmountable lead in the Electoral College, ahead in virtually every swing state and within striking distance in a number of historically Republican states. But still, it’s frightening to think that almost half the country now intends to vote for Trump.
As I have written before, you would think that the specter of a Trump presidency would induce the mainstream news media to skewer coverage in favor of Hillary, or at the very least to play it straight instead of helping the Republicans, as they usually do. But it looks like I’m wrong. Maybe the media corporate overlords figure that we’ve had psychopaths, the ignorant and liars for president before and have survived. Bush II and Reagan were ignorant liars, while Nixon was a lying psychopath. And we’ve had racists in the White House, too, including Woodrow Wilson and Nixon. Presidents with little experience have made some awful mistakes, such as Kennedy escalating the cold war and arranging for the replacement of the Vietnam government, Clinton’s handling of healthcare reform or Obama bending too far to compromise with the unrealistic demands of Republicans.
But only twice in our country’s history have we had a Democratic president who was a centrist leaning left with both houses of Congress Democratic and the Republic party in disarray. In both instances, the conditions lasted about two years. Coincidentally, virtually every piece of federal legislation that created more equality of income and wealth was passed during these short periods, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. As of August 10, the polls suggested that the possibility of a third confluence of these factors could occur. And that’s what the ultra-wealthy who own and control the mainstream news media are afraid of. They’ve spent more than 35 years undoing most of the damage that New Deal and Great Society legislation did to the ultra-wealthy’s self-imagined privilege to dominate the economy and exploit everyone else. They don’t want to see their efforts undone by the Democratic platform of higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for social welfare programs, lowering the cost of education, improving our infrastructure and promoting non-fossil fuels.
In short, they prefer the horrors of Trump to anything that affects their sizable fortunes, even if it helps the country and most of its inhabitants.