The speedy declaration of Mike Pence as the winner of the Vice Presidential debate earlier this week reminded us all over again that the standards by which the media continues to measure the candidates have little to do with truth, integrity or substance. Pence’s “galling amnesia” about the litany of Trump’s often repeated lies and insults should have diminished him and made it clear he is unworthy of the high public office he seeks. Instead, with a few exceptions, such as Frank Bruni and David Leonhardt at the New York Times, several media personalities have declared Pence to be the “winner.” The “winner” is a man who repeatedly draws attention to his Christian faith, yet supports the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, and stands with Trump’s xenophobic, racist plans to “make America great” by violating its most basic values. Scant attention was paid by the media to the moral agenda called for by the coalition led by Rev.Dr. William Barber, Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, and Sister Simone Campbell. Meanwhile, the members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops continue to see no evil and hear no evil in the conduct of the Presidential campaigns, and bear witness to the Gospel by staying completely silent.
In recent times some journalists, belatedly stricken by their role in the rise of the creature they helped elevate in the public imagination, have spent energy wrestling with the faux moral dilemma of whether it was OK to call Donald Trump a liar when he is clearly lying. He stands unembarrassed in the face of being convicted by his own words, yet the media have long tiptoed around him as if he is to be taken seriously.
Media would not cover the deranged man who stands on the street corner proclaiming that the end of the world is imminent. Yet Donald Trump has received billions in free media coverage for doing the equivalent. His lies, his racist taunts, his continued disrespect toward the first African American president and his manipulation of “the less educated voters” he professes to love are treated by the media with less seriousness that one would give to the nasty, misbehaving child he approximates.
He has internalized and profited from the insight articulated by a more astute media voice than any we have today: H.L. Mencken.
Mencken said: “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.” Read more at
Wonderful and so timely.
*John Webster, PhD*
*University Professor* *Director, Hogan Program*
Amen, Dawn! Couldn’t agree more!