It’s some years now since I read modern versions of what hell must be like. They replaced burning coals and fiery furnaces with compulsory viewing of day time television. After only seven days confined to sick bay, I can now confirm that terrifying picture of being locked forever in room and forced to watch the daytime tube.
In fairness to other countries, I should add my judgment is based on American television in general and CNN “the most trusted name in news” in particular. I hastily note “most trusted” is their judgment, not mine.
There was a time when I could have believed the claim; a time when I looked to CNN to take me to the far corners of the world to tell me in a balanced voice what was going on. But then came Trump, bellicose Donald the clown, whom CNN believed might prove some light entertainment during a presidential election campaign and then vanish in flash of redneck rhetoric on voting day.
The loudmouthed Trump crisscrossed the United States shouting a never-ending litany of corruption charges against everyone not wearing a Trump button. His early rivals were long-time Republicans and the Party struggled to decide which member it would bless as its presidential standard bearer. They laughed at Trump’s wildness, shuddered over his coarse language and hints of racism – until they were overwhelmed by the rookie slogan slinger.
When the votes were counted in the presidential election Trump trailed in the popular vote by close to three million, but won the all-important Electoral College vote and the presidency. And the Republican establishment, which had tried to keep at arm’s length during the campaign, suddenly became Trump lovers and defenders.
The rest of the USA went into shock and CNN girded its loins to do battle to save democracy, with Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room front and centre. It was staffed with well-groomed male and female reporters or commentators whose sole duty appeared to be to praise the work of other journalists, especially those revealing another Trump unreality outburst.
It has not gone unnoticed that CNN rarely breaks hard news stories. Instead it brings viewers the latest revelations of miscues, false boasts or just plain blather as reported in The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or any other news outlet living up to old standards of journalism.
CNN assembled teams and then set out to prove what Trump had reportedly said was “offensive” or “insulting” to all Americans; would be “rejected” by all Americans; and would leave the collective nation bowing its head in shame. And, it would cause the Republican Party untold grief as its established Congressmen and Senators tried to explain away the latest Trump diatribe against third world nations.
As I watched “the most trusted name in news” try to assemble a “sky is falling” scenario, one calm voice drew attention. Jeffrey Toobin – writer for The New Yorker, lawyer, political analyst – was part of Blitzer’s panel but was being interviewed via remote connections. He quietly reminded Wolf that not all Americans will be appalled by Trumps latest scurrilous remarks on poorer world countries. He suggested they remember Trump’s base voters listened to similar or worse comments throughout the presidential campaign, supported him then and still support him now.
Blitzer seemed a little startled by Toobin’s reminder that there are millions of Americans who love Trump’s wild promises, his riches, his life style, his racist comments, his half-assed praise for the KKK, his thinly veiled contempt for non-whites. Toobin said he doesn’t think Trump’s latest derogatory remarks about less than rich nations “will cause him a lot of grief.”
Blitzer wondered out loud “are we blowing this out of proportion?” but only briefly. Being too fascinated to change channels, I continue to watch as Blitzer departs and Erin Burnett enters. Burnett is a beautiful virago with a great voice often ruined by staccato delivery, known to have a sharp mind and tongue and to not take challenge lightly.
She promises to bring me up to date on reaction to the Donald’s latest trumpeting. She doesn’t. Different panel of talking heads, different voices. Same theme, same phrases. Same ever wider publicity for the man who thrives on it and his 35-40 per cent “base” of voters who think the latest critical twist of their slogan from “Make America Great Again” to “make America white again” is a good idea.
And that is more scary than President Trump at his careless, unthinking worst.