Friday, September 16, 2016

Some Say Trump Is Human Too


For the first time in 100 years, the very right-wing biggest newspaper in New Hampshire hasn't endorsed the Republican nominee for president. "Voters leaning toward Trump are understandably fed up with the status quo, of which Clinton is a prime example," wrote publisher Joseph McQuaid. "But they kid themselves if they think Trump isn’t pretty much a part of that status quo as well, or that he is in any way qualified to competently lead this nation. The man is a liar, a bully, a buffoon. He denigrates any individual or group that displeases him. He has dishonored military veterans and their families, made fun of the physically frail, and changed political views almost as often as he has changed wives." The paper endorsed the Libertarian.

In his NY Times column yesterday, Nick Kristof tried dealing with the problems the mainstream media has in covering a crackpot like Trump. The night before, one of the DWT regular readers whose ideas and opinions I most respect, e-mailed me about our own Trump coverage. He was pissed off at the way we have chosen to dehumanize Trump, particularly in the way we refer to him as "Trumpanzee," although I tried to dehumanize it by usually using phrases like "Señor Trumpanzee" or "Monsieur Trumpanzee."

As you probably know, I've been a long-time reader of DWT.  I have, until recently, always appreciated its voice and especially yours.

But there's something going on right now that I find deeply, horribly, upsetting, and I thought I should tell you about it.

It's the use of the term "Trumpanzee" to refer to the GOP nominee.

I will grant you he is at least every bit as terrible as you say and think.  But even so, he's still a person. A bad person. A very bad person. But a person.  And to suggest he is in fact an animal, or half animal, is to use the very sort of dehumanizing rhetoric that we on the left (and DWT) have long opposed when deployed by the right. We objected when they did it to Blacks, to the LGBT community, to the left more generally. And we-- and you-- were right to do so.

Why then descend to that level? Why go down there with the Nazis and the right wing fanatics?  We-- you-- need to be better than that.

Even Trump is human. He has human rights like the rest of us. Unfortunately he has chosen to use his humanity in service to terrible ends. But that doesn't make him sub-human or non-human, and we shouldn't suggest that it does.

It's just not funny.

Give it a rest? Please?

We've had far more complaints from animal rights activists and pet lovers who have asked us to stop defaming chimps by attaching them in any way to Mr. Trump. So, we've heard and we're retiring the phrase. Maybe we should go back to Herr Trumpf? Anyway, back to Herr Kristof's column in the Times. He seemed distraught that "by a margin of 15 percentage points, voters thought Donald Trump was 'more honest and trustworthy' than Hillary Clinton." Even someone like me, who has no love for Hillary agrees with him that "this public perception is completely at odds with all evidence... "Clearly," he wrote, "Clinton shades the truth-- yet there’s no comparison with Trump." She may do worse than shade the truth, but if anythingis clear, she is certainly-- and has always been-- the lesser of two evils, even the far lesser. Kristof says he isn't sure journalism-- journalists-- bear responsibility "but this does raise the thorny issue of false equivalence, which has been hotly debated among journalists this campaign. Here’s the question: Is it journalistic malpractice to quote each side and leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions, even if one side seems to fabricate facts or make ludicrous comments?"
President Obama weighed in this week, saying that “we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.”

I’m wary of grand conclusions about false equivalence from 30,000 feet. But at the grass roots of a campaign, I think we can do better at signaling that one side is a clown.

There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax, who has called for barring Muslims and who has said that he will build a border wall and that Mexico will pay for it.

We owe it to our readers to signal when we’re writing about a crackpot. Even if he’s a presidential candidate. No, especially when he’s a presidential candidate.

...I wonder if journalistic efforts at fairness don’t risk normalizing Trump, without fully acknowledging what an abnormal candidate he is. Historically we in the news media have sometimes fallen into the traps of glib narratives or false equivalencies, and we should try hard to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

We should be guard dogs, not lap dogs, and when the public sees Trump as more honest than Clinton, something has gone wrong.

For my part, I’ve never met a national politician as ill informed, as deceptive, as evasive and as vacuous as Trump. He’s not normal. And somehow that is what our barks need to convey.

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At 8:07 AM, Blogger rlfast said...

When Trump started calling Clinton "Crooked Hillary" I started calling him "Snotty Trump." This way both candidates have very accurate nicknames and neither is dehumanized. It's very satisfying. Try it, you'll like it.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger James Quinn said...

Howie, come on, Trumpanzee is brilliant and to the point. Let's not get Politically Correct, - Trumpanzee should go on in Infamy.
I vote for it and tell your friend to get his self righteous head out of his butt...He's too late, the Pope name Mother Theresa for Sainthood, he missed the boat. A good laugh is needed by all, so Trumpanzee, the replica of the pouting Trump should go back or are you going to crumble like Bernie??? Trumpanzee is Politically Correct because the Horse's Ass was already taken.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the source for the Jane Goodall information? Just interested to know.



At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never mind, I found it.

I discovered it's from an Atlantic article


At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have absolutely no problem with "Trumpanzee". Particularly if Jane Goodall approves and she should know a Trumpanzee when she sees one.

At 7:31 AM, Blogger petral said...

"Hair Trumpf"


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