Here are a few of the things Donald Trump has said in the past few days, says Brian Klaas on Substack. He pledged to get tough on crime by shooting people for minor offences like shoplifting. He joked about the vicious hammer attack last year on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul. He suggested that Mark Milley, the outgoing head of America’s military, deserved to be executed for calling China to reassure them after the January 6 insurrection. This, remember, is a former president of the US, and in all likelihood its next president too. Yet such is America’s numbness to Trump’s authoritarian urges, the media response to all three stories was, effectively, “crickets”.
Many on the left argue this is a good thing. “Don’t amplify him!” they say. “You’re just spreading his message!” But that approach is self-defeating. Most Americans – and in particular the swing voters who’ll decide next year’s election – don’t think about politics at all in their daily lives. They see Trump as a “rough-around-the-edges” guy, but they’ve largely forgotten all that “horrible stuff” he said and did back when the newspapers still bothered reporting on it. In contrast, all they ever see about Joe Biden is how old and senile he is. “We’ve lost all sense of scale and perspective.” Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric places him “far outside the bounds of acceptable democratic politics”. The least the media could do is tell people about it.