Media Outlets Highlight Trump’s Hypocrisy

Kiley Petersen, Managing Editor

I think it’s no surprise to anyone at Oberlin that Donald Trump is, in no particular order, racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, a xenophobic bigot, a white supremacist, a man with atrocious hair and an absolutely terrible Republican candidate for the 2016 presidency. A list of his actions in the past 177 days since he announced his candidacy reads like a badly-written joke: Ban all Muslims from the U.S.; Mexican immigrants are all drug dealers, criminals and rapists; Megyn Kelly has blood coming out of her “wherever.” One of my favorite tweets about Trump, posted on Nov. 22, is from user @mamasnark and reads: “Basically, Trump is what would happen if the comments section became a human and ran for president.”

In progressive circles, Trump’s candidacy was at first a joke, a political farce that no one on the left took seriously. Who would vote Donald Trump — infamous for his obsession with Obama’s birth certificate and incestous comments about his daughter Ivanka — into the office of the most influential person in the world? In more conservative circles, however, Trump’s “trolling” comments struck gold. Finally, here was someone whose beliefs and morals sustained the white supremacy underlying the patriotic narrative of the American Dream and the Founding Fathers.

Recently, however, Democrats have realized that “Trump is No Longer a Laughing Matter,” to quote a Dec. 10 New York Times article. Scott and Steve Leader, two brothers from Boston, urinated on and beat a homeless Hispanic man on Aug. 19, quoting Trump as inspiration for the assault: “Donald Trump was right — all these illegals need to be deported,” Scott Leader told police officers. According to a report by Politico, white supremacist and Neo-Nazi websites have seen spikes in website traffic after Trump speaks at political events or offers a comment to the media. Don Black, a founder of Stormfront — the most popular white supremacist website on the internet — said that “[Trump is] certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point. … He has sparked an insurgency and I don’t think it’s going to go away.”

With the left’s increasing realization that Trump’s politics are violent and not just clowning around, the media is taking a stand against his bigoted campaign — an effort I applaud. On Monday, The Huffington Post reversed their decision to cover Trump’s campaign in the “Entertainment” section of the site, instead moving it back to the “Politics” sphere. Editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington explained that the Post still wouldn’t be treating his campaign like a normal one — they would still point out the obvious and subtle bigotry in his remarks. The Wednesday edition of the New York Daily News showed a front page political cartoon of Trump, comparing his Muslim ban to the xenophobia of Nazi Germany. NBC News journalist Tom Brokaw criticized Trump’s ban, comparing it the internment of Japanese Americans and the genocide of Jewish people by the Nazis. This marks an interesting trend in mass media coverage of political campaigns. While journalists have never refrained from commenting on candidates’ policies or speeches in the opinions section or from drawing a political cartoon, besides the occasional official editorial endorsement, news reporters are supposed to refrain from remarks about candidates. Some people are angry that Trump’s campaign is receiving special treatment from the media — why not present all campaigns fairly and accurately and not worry about personal beliefs toward candidates?

I think that reporting thoroughly, accurately and ethically on Trump requires a full dismantling of his politics — and his politics happen to harm entire groups of people. I also think that Trump’s political campaign is unlike any modern journalists have seen in the U.S. The line is blurred between objectivity and subjectivity in journalism — we can see that through multiple instances comparing how the media reports on Black murders vs. white terrorism. Reporters must hold Trump accountable for his words and actions and call out his xenophobia and bigotry when they find it.

So yes, the 2016 presidential campaign will be reported on much differently than in years past, but that is because the stakes are higher. How the mass media covers Trump and the other candidates could very well change the results of the race.