Mainstream Media Should Not Let Trump Off the Hook for His Incitement of White Christian Nationalist Violence and Massacres, But It Will

August 5, 2019



Already Trump’s minions are trying to turn the wave of white Christian supremacist violence into a false equivalency story, and the mainstream corporate media is likely to swallow the bait hook, line and sinker.

As just one example, the President’s chief-of-staff was on ABC yesterday declaring that Trump is in no way responsible for the horrific actions of his followers: "This is a serious problem — there's no question about it — but they are sick, sick people, and the president knows it," Mulvaney said on ABC's "This Week." "I don't think it's fair to try and lay this at the feet of the president."

The mainstream corporate media has continued to treat Trump with deference, even though he incites acts of domestic terrorism. The behavior of the press is not likely to change, even though the evidence is clear that in tweets and statements at campaign rallies, Trump is directly messaging a narrative that migrants are “vermin” and “invaders” — and that is just a small portion of how he gins up his “grievance” base to believe that non-whites are virulent toxins that poison the European-descendant white body politic. No, it’s not hyperbole to say that in the early years of Nazism, Jews were described in the same words as a pestilence upon an “Aryan” nation. Such language permeates Hitler’s manifesto, “Mein Kampf.”

As I concluded in a BF editor’s commentary yesterday, “Donald J. Trump needs to be held accountable as an accessory to murder.” I also noted how he uses the language that non-whites represent an “infestation” of white “America” as just one of the many ways that he shapes a mindset that is just one step short of pulling the trigger. And remember this is the candidate who said, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose voters.” An April, 2017, The Daily Beast article rephrased that as a headline, “Trump: I Could Murder and Not Lose Votes.”

In yesterday’s commentary, I took note of just a few of the ways that Trump has been messaging to his base that white Christian America is under siege by other races that he claims are polluting his “Make America White Again” base. As I listed yesterday (and, again, this is not by any means all that Trump has said, tweeted and done to provoke violence against “the invaders”),

Donald Trump with his appalling treatment of migrants in dire need of safety and employment, his references to the immigrants as an “infestation,” his early campaign incendiary allegation that many of those crossing the border are rapists, his indirect and direct appeal to white nationalism, his support of the alt-right even after one of them killed a young woman in Charlottesville, his racist and xenophobic attack on Ilhan Omar, on “The Squad” and Elijah Cummings as people who are unworthy of being considered “American” his sneering and smirking at people of color, his outright racist remarks, his assertion that the US is being overrun by brown people who are filthy and detestable, his use of language that implies non-whites are of an inferior race and are “vermin” — all this and more are incitements to the Patrick Casisus’s of the US, men caught in there own dark world of grievance and hate. This is what weaponized the mass shooting in El Paso.

There is so much more that makes Trump, on the record, an accessory to murder.

Take this headline from a May 20, 2019, article in New York Magazine: “Watch President Trump Laugh Over a Comment About Shooting Migrants.” The New York Magazine story offers more insight into just one of the innumerable nods and winks that Trump has made in regards to violence against migrants and people-of-color (don’t forget, to repeat, his targeting of Ilhan Omar, “Send her back,” and his characterization of African nations as “Shithole Countries,” not to mention his attack on Baltimore’s Black community as “rat infested” — his cult followers knew that he was talking about the Black residents, not just the actual rats — and Elijah Cummings as being unworthy of empathy as a human):

“You have hundreds and hundreds of [migrants] and you have two or three border security people that are brave and great — and don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons,” Trump said, in Panama City Beach. “We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t, I would never do that. But how do you stop these people?” An audience member had an idea. “Shoot them,” he yelled, which caused the president, and much of the televised backdrop of crowd members, to laugh. “Only in the panhandle can you get away with that statement,” Trump said….

Trump’s response, of course, provides a tacit endorsement of the audience member’s call: If the president says you have gotten away with saying something horrendous, one might assume the behavior was okay. But it’s little surprise that Trump, swooning in rally mode, didn’t provide a defense of migrant rights.

It takes a newspaper from outside the United States to call Trump to account. In this case, The Australian The Sydney Morning Herald:

These are the same flames Trump fans with his dehumanizing discourse. It is no coincidence that far-right extremists were responsible for 100 per cent of all terrorist attacks on US soil since the end of 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and why hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, and other minorities are at unprecedented levels.

Much of Trump’s political shtick is pivoted on the white nationalist notion that white Americans find themselves in a do-or-die struggle with non-white immigrants, and thus framing Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, African Americans, and other ethnic minorities to be an external threat, or “invaders”.

Will the US media hold Trump accountable in the same manner? It is doubtful. As I noted above, the mainstream media, especially the DC Press Corps, practices a policy of he-said she-said false equivalency journalism. This means that corporate media does not believe its role is to ferret out the truth — even when it is in plain sight. Rather the role of the media is to let “both sides” air their perspectives, even if one side is clearly lying and spinning the truth. The allows corporate media to not take a stand on the truth, but rather to engage in the false equivalency of equating truth on the one side with lies on the other.

Trump is a master media manipulator. He knows that the corporate media depends on the size of the audience for “news” to make larger profits with increased advertising dollars. So he offers a daily reality TV Trump show. To him, a mass shooting is just another spectacle.

Indeed, in a Monday morning email from The Hill, the false equivalency practice of journalism was already at work in this paragraph:

Trump said he spoke over the weekend with the attorney general, the FBI director, governors and lawmakers and federal flags were lowered to half-staff. “We have to get it stopped,” he said. “This has been going on for years, for years and years in our country.”

A Monday Washington Post article, while still offering both sides, does offer evidence of Trump’s cueing up the tee for white Christian nationalist violence. It states, “Most recently, Trump lashed out at Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), one of the highest-ranking black lawmakers, by calling his Baltimore district ‘a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess’ and claiming that’“no human being would want to live there.’” This, in essence, is stating those non-whites who live there are not human beings. If Trump’s followers understand the white supremacist language that he employs, why can’t the press?

The New York Times headlined its Monday morning email alert: “Trump’s Words Are Scrutinized by Candidates in Wake of Shootings.” Although the Times has articles that document Trump’s incitements, it balances those against the neutrality of taking an overall position of the statements of several Democratic candidates for president holding Trump accountable with counter-propaganda from the White House that amounts to outright lies. The NYT has a headline at the top of its homepage (at the time of the writing of the commentary on Monday morning): “Trump Calls for Gun Checks and Immigration Laws.” Say what?

Meanwhile, The Hill posted an article that amplified Trump’s lies about his role in inciting white nationalist domestic terrorism. In story on a Monday morning briefing by Trump at the White House, The Hill, without factual clarification, reported:

President Trump on Monday called on the nation to condemn white supremacy in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas allegedly carried out by a gunman who posted an anti-immigrant manifesto.

“The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed with racist hate,” Trump said during remarks inside the Diplomatic Room of the White House.

“In one voice, our nation must condemn bigotry, hatred and white supremacy," he said. "These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”

Early indications are that the corporate mainstream media will not be changing its behavior anytime soon.

The Washington Post sent out an email alert on the same Trump press event The Hill covered and the email had as its subject line: “Trump condemns white supremacy after mass shootings, focuses on combating mental illness over new gun control measures.” This just reinforces and normalizes Trump’s pernicious and unconscionable racism and demagoguery.

Meanwhile, all our lives our at greater risk because the media will not hold truth to power.