Mainstream Media Again Skirts Around Issue Of Trump’s Mental Illness
The tweet shows a GIF video of Trump hitting a golf ball. Through video editing, the golf ball is shown striking Hillary Clinton in the back — knocking her down, as she boards an airplane. (The video, of course, alters real footage of her actually tripping.)
Regarding the tweet, CNN ran a story, which included video footage of a New York Times reporter discussing the tweet. While generally criticizing Trump, the reporter (at 0:50) also calls Trump a “disruptor” — which is a term that is commonly used to describe the greatest technological innovations (such as personal computers and smartphones). (In the same interview, the reporter and CNN’s anchor called Trump’s behavior “unusual” and “insane” — but only while laughing about it and offering possible explanations for it. Also, the description (“insane”) was limited to the tweet itself — with no larger discussion of the President’s overall mental state.)
This continues the trend of the mainstream media — particularly, frequent Trump punching bag The New York Times — taking equivocal positions that include positive spins on Trump. For example, in September 2016, The New York Times ran a story entitled “Voters’ View of a Donald Trump Presidency: Big Risks and Rewards”; the story noted voters’ views that Hillary Clinton could not be an “agent of change” — while suggesting that Trump could be one. The headline also, of course, emphasized the “Big…Rewards” possible in a Trump presidency. The story tended to legitimize Trump supporters, by providing a rational explanation for their support — even when, in reality, the support largely found its deeper roots in much uglier bigotry.
At this point in time, it is especially irresponsible and wrong to use potentially-positive terms (such as “disruptor”) to describe Trump. At this stage in the game, there is no ignoring Trump’s actions, speeches, and tweets, including his frequent glorification of violence — e.g., his wrestling tweet, his train tweet, and his campaign statement, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”
The real story cannot be ignored: the President of the United States suffers from mental illness. There has been recent discussion of a formal Congressional inquiry into his mental health.
On August 20, CNN ran an important story entitled, “Carl Bernstein: This is the Trump story reporters need to cover”; the story described the views of veteran journalist Bernstein, who reported on Watergate. The story stated:
Investigative reporter and CNN contributor Carl Bernstein says reporters must be asking those questions.
“Republicans in Congress, the highest of intelligence officials, the highest of military officers in our country, leaders of the business community — all of whom have dealt with the White House, and many of them dealt personally with Donald Trump — have come to believe that he is unfit for the presidency,” Bernstein told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Sunday.
He said those people are “raising the very question of his stability and his mental fitness.”
“Maybe what I’m being told is not as pervasive as I believe it is. Let’s find out,” Bernstein added. “We need as journalists to make this our primary function right now.”
Stelter said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that Trump’s “actions and inactions in the wake of Charlottesville are provoking some uncomfortable conversations.”
The questions, he said, include these: “Is the president of the United States a racist? Is he suffering from some kind of illness? Is he fit for office? And if he’s unfit — then what?”
Some Republican lawmakers, like U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, have joined Democrats in publicly raising questions about Trump’s fitness for office. Last week the Tennessee Republican said that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”
Since the time of that story, the evidence of Trump’s mental unfitness has significantly increased — and includes his Twitter usage and much else. It is time to cease including potentially-positive words (such as “disruptor”) in descriptions of Trump’s conduct. There is no need for fancy vocabulary and mixed messages. There is no shying away from the reality of his mental unfitness to govern. The media should report the reality for what it is. Politicians on both sides should undertake formal inquiries, which could result in official proceedings to have his powers suspended — and, ultimately, official proceedings to remove him from office.
To recap: the President re-tweeted a post from a user with the Twitter handle “@Fuctupmind”. The Twitter handle is notable. Bernstein was right. It is time for the media to straight-forwardly report the story for what it is.