If over the weekend you saw a rambling madman give a frighteningly incoherent, sweaty, two-hour shoutfest of a speech at a right-wing summit while a crowd of feces-flinging howler monkeys wildly applauded, then you viewed the president coming unhinged on national television in a way that has probably never been seen before in United States history.
That is extraordinary cause for alarm.
If, instead, you saw nothing more than a “fiery” Donald Trump give a “zigzagging,” “wide-ranging,” “campaign-like” address where the Republican really “let loose,” then you likely work for the mainstream media, which once again swung and missed when it came to detailing the escalating threat that Donald Trump represents to the country.
From the beginning of Trump’s campaign, there has been legitimate concern that the mainstream media, with its focus on seeming “neutral”, was not up to the task of adequately conveying Trump’s bizarre, authoritarian madness to their audiences. Their response to his CPAC appearance shows that those concerns were well-founded.
There’s no way to accurately describe Trump’s behavior without sounding hysterical or, heaven forbid, “biased.” So most media outlets resorted to euphemistic language or focused on technically true observations (it is accurate that Trump criticized Robert Mueller) while sliding past the more relevant detail, the fact that the president of the United States was babbling like a lunatic who hasn’t slept in days.
Newsrooms nearly uniformly refuse to address the mounting, obvious signs that Trump is a deeply unstable man as the CPAC meltdown demonstrated. Most reporters simply do not want to mention it. As the Daily Beast put it: “In most ways, it was just another campaign rally for the president, in flavor, content, and punchlines.”
Nothing to see here, folks.
But what’s with the hesitation among the press to cover Trump’s speech as a flashing neon-red sign of a man teetering on the edge? Why won’t the media discuss Trump’s, at this point, obvious mental instability?
It’s the same reason large news organizations, to this day, won’t call Trump a liar. Logically it makes no sense, but news outlets don’t want to take heat from conservatives and from the administration for calling Trump a liar. So even though they’ve documented that he lies all the time, reporters opt for timid words like “falsehoods” to soften the blow.
The same is true with regard to Trump’s unstable behavior. There’s not one working member of mainstream media who watched Trump’s unsettling CPAC meltdown and thought, “He’s seems stable. I have no questions about his mental capacity.” They know it’s a pressing issue. But newsrooms don’t want to suffer the backlash, the shouts of “Liberal media bias!” that would rain down on journalists who tackle the story, even though it’s obvious and newsworthy.
After the debacle that was the 2016 election, many hoped that the mainstream media would learn its lesson about favoring “neutrality” over the old-fashioned journalistic concern for truth. It was an election cycle where Hillary Clinton’s (not insignificant) flaws were exaggerated while Trump’s outrageous behavior and obvious unfitness for the office were underplayed. All out of their misplaced sense of fairness.
And when you’re neutral in the face of sanity and insanity, you inherently serve the maniac’s purpose.
It’s probably true that most in the mainstream media didn’t expect Trump to end up winning the election. The surprise outcome however, should have been a wake-up call. It seems that the lesson was not learned.
There is long-established hesitancy on the part of specialists to try to diagnose somebody if they’re not a direct patient. But even on that front, more and more experts are speaking out. This comes from a petition signed by 70,000 mental health professionals:
“We, the undersigned mental health professionals, believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.”
The president is not well, and that puts everyone in serious danger. And that’s a helluva news story if the media will just tell it.