It’s been a bad few days, a shocking few days, a disorienting few days.
First, late last week, the story broke that Bill Barr had launched a criminal investigation into the 2016 FBI probe of Russian attacks on the election. In doing so, the Justice Department became an authoritarian enforcement arm for the White House. The clear purpose of this criminal inquiry is to harass and punish people in the FBI and the intelligence communities who dared to investigate a transnational criminal who was running for, and then became president, Donald Trump.
But, no sooner had the story broken than the corporate news normalizers (Chuck Rosenberg, et. al.) hit the air waves to tell us that this wasn’t what it was – the use of the Justice Department to prosecute Trump’s enemies.
“It’s only a diversion from the impeachment inquiry,” we were told. “Barr’s co-conspirator John Durham is a man of integrity, an adult in the room. He would never be involved with anything improper.” “The investigation is going nowhere.” “They haven’t even said what crime they were investigating.” “Let’s wait and see what they come up with.”
There’s a fundamental kind of disorientation you experience when what is right in front of your eyes is denied by others looking at the same thing. I am used to it from the corporate media, but the past few days have just been crazy-making.
Sunday morning, I turned on the television and before I had a chance to take the first sip of coffee, I was confronted with Donald Trump’s ugly face staring out of the television screen, making some sort of announcement. I felt like the deer in the headlights. My partner and I sat propped up in bed, speechless, and listening first to a dead-toned reading of a prepared statement about Bathdadi’s death and then to a totally unhinged Trump wet dream about the actual killing.
When Trump talks about violence he does so with relish. He draws out the phrases and words almost as if he were tasting them on his tongue. Sunday, he was visibly savoring the details of Baghdadi’s death. He was enjoying the video of the man’s humiliation, his crying, his whimpering, his terror.
I have listened to Trump enough to know when he’s pulling shit out of his ass. I knew even then he was making this up. What we were listening to was a violent wet dream inside the diseased head of a man who controls the nuclear codes. I felt nauseous.
Donald Trump’s brain is filled with sick-making fantasies. Some of these fantasies are of the terrorizing, humiliation and utter destruction – in slow motion and in technicolor – of his enemies. What we were listening to Sunday morning was what he would like to do to anyone who opposes him. What we were listening to was what he would do to anyone who opposes him if he thought he could get away with it. What we were listening to was what he will do to anyone who opposes him if we don’t stop him.
By the time Trump finished and I got to the study to turn on the computer, the corporate media was doing its job.
I sat and stared with disbelief into the face of a young woman reporter who had listened to the same public statement I had. “Trump” she said “is a vivid storyteller.” He has an “unconventional style.”
What the corporate media then did throughout the day was transform an obscene display of crassness, mental illness and sadism into a question of style. Donald Trump is not a vivid storyteller. Donald Trump is not unconventional. Donald Trump is a madman.
I tried to spend most of the day dealing with cats, Naan, and working on a seminar about the 1960 film, Elmer Gantry.
Monday morning, I hadn’t even turned on the television when my Twitter feed went wild. Reaching over to get the Mini, I read a stream of comments that made me groan out loud.
The two worst people in the entire world (Joe Scarborough and the dreadful Mika) were evidently on air lecturing the rest of us and calling us “unAmerican” for booing Donald Trump and chanting “lock him up” at a ball game. These two narcissistic, self-promoting, vacuous and disgusting examples of what this society has become had the audacity to scold and shame American citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.
These two people helped get Trump elected by giving him millions in free air time. Trump himself referred to them as his “supporters.” They got his permission before they asked him difficult questions in an interview, and they were partying at Mar-a-Lago after the election. They saw themselves in the White House. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski turned on Trump only after he threatened to (and eventually did) out their adulterous affair.
Morning Joe is usually good fodder and provides such delicious examples of wretched corporate media coverage (not to mention obsequious butt kissing from the panel), but I couldn’t even turn on the television. I knew I would throw something and I enjoy that television.
By mid-morning my Twitter feed was telling me that the most hypocritical, sanctimonious and compromised of all Democrats, Chris Coons, had joined the Joe and Mika team admonishing Americans for spontaneous political expression. Coons, while presenting himself as being “bi-partisan” and oh such a good guy, helped arrange a sham “investigation” of Bret Kavnaugh that helped him get to the Supreme Court.
The one true point of all this is that the Club of Elites (including the corporate media and the political establishment) wants to handle the Trump fiasco itself. They do not want the American people empowered. They do not want legitimate outrage, protests, boos, chants, action. They are terrified that people in this country might realize they have the power to throw the bastards out whenever they choose to. They are terrified that people might realize that they have the power to provide themselves with adequate health care, good public schools, living wages and jobs, a fair criminal justice system. They have the power to demand that the white collar, corporate and political criminals be put under the goddamn jail for their blatant thievery and gutting of the American economy.
The sheer fact of the matter is that the Joe Scarboroughs, Mika Brzezinski’s, the Chris Coons, the Nancy Pelosis, the Ellens, the Danny Deutschs of the world have more in common with each other than they do with us.
They want Trump out because he’s upsetting the game, but they want to handle it themselves. That way, the polite in-house corruption, cheating, self-dealing and graft can continue.
The corporate media is not even remotely on our side. They will debate minutiae, trivialize political division, suppress radical expression, flood the air waves with normalizers. They will never, unless they are forced to by the American people, admit that what we are experiencing is a disaster, a terrifying crisis, the transformation of a once proud democratic country into an authoritarian state. For as long as they can get away with it, they will tell us to “move along.” “Don’t freak out.” Go enjoy yourselves, look the other way.
We must not let them get away with it.