Rip Van Winkle awakes: Yesterday afternoon, Josh Marshall issued the following statement. He may have been wrong on his underlying facts, but he was certainly right on his basic assessment.
MARSHALL (8/10/16): We're Off The Rails, FolksMarshall linked to this report about a report—to a report by Esme Cribb about a report which said that the Secret Service had spoken to the Trump campaign about its candidate's latest garbled but highly insinuative statement.
It's a logical development based on what happened yesterday. But when the Secret Service has to talk to one presidential candidate about hinting at the assassination of the other candidate ... folks, we've gone seriously off the rails as a country.
Cribb may have been wrong on the basic facts—she graduated from college in June—but Marshall is certainly right in his basic assessment:
"We're seriously off the rails."
The analysts rolled their eyes at Marshall's declaration. ("We wonder when he noticed," one of them yawningly said.) As a matter of fact, we've been "off the rails" in major ways for at least the past twenty years. In the opinion of our own youngsters, Josh has worked hard to avoid calling attention to this long-standing problem.
We've been seriously off the rails for a very long time in several major ways. Donald Trump didn't invent the lunacy known as Trumpism.
Trumpism defined the practices of the mainstream press long before Candidate Trump came along. The career liberal world has accepted, enabled and advanced this disorder for the past twenty-plus years.
People like Marshall looked away when Trumpism rolled through the New York Times. They even tended to look away from the work of purveyors like Limbaugh and Hannity, whose destructive behavior the mainstream press has persistently failed to address.
People of a conservative bent have been assailed by Trumpism for a great many years. Our mainstream press corps persistently looked away as this public disaster occurred. A new report by NBC News gives us one tiny glimpse of where such craziness has taken us.
In our view, NBC is imperfectly stating the actual results of a recent survey. But in a familiar yet bizarre finding, NBC reports this:
CLINTON AND ROUSH (8/10/16): One way that Donald Trump launched onto the political stage five years ago was through his fervent claims that President Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen...We have no idea why Clinton and Roush think those differences between Democrats and Republicans are "surprising." Can anyone play this game?
Seventy-two percent of registered Republican voters still doubt President Obama's citizenship, according to a recent NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll conducted in late June and early July of more than 1,700 registered voters. And this skepticism even exists among Republicans high in political knowledge.
A first look reveals significant and surprising differences between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to their beliefs about Obama's birthplace.
While more than eight in 10 Democrats agreed with the claim [that Obama was born in the U.S.], far more Republicans disagreed with the statement (41 percent) than agreed with it (27 percent). An additional 31 percent of Republicans expressed some doubts about whether Obama is a native U.S. citizen (i.e. indicating that they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement). Only slightly more than one in four Republican voters agreed that the president was born in the United States.
We'll also note that respondents weren't asked if they think Obama is a citizen. They were only asked if they think he was born in the United States.
That said, the results of this survey are little short of astounding. They represent the highly dramatic, confounding tip of a highly destructive iceberg.
Voters of a conservative bent have been fed bullroar for decades. They've been fed endless demonological tales about both Clintons and about Candidate Gore. They've been fed crazy mis- and disinformation about various policy matters.
People like Marshall politely looked away while their powerful mainstream colleagues took part in the wars against both Clintons and Gore. Josh then created a vehicle in which we liberals are fed a highly selective diet of information and "stories."
This week, Josh has discovered that the country is off the rails. The country was badly off the rails from March 1999 through November 2000, when the mainstream press corps conducted its war against Gore. Politely, Josh didn't say so.
The latest results about Obama's birth represent an astounding state of affairs. That said, such survey results have persistently been ignored by our big mainstream news orgs.
Presumably, such orgs don't want to offend the many readers and viewers who share the lunatic factual belief explored in such survey questions. Presumably, our big news orgs take a pass on this matter to feather their corporate nests. (Have you ever seen a big news org interview people about this?)
In the liberal world, we've started creating our own corporate news orgs, orgs which are devoted to misleading Us in the way the Limbaughs and Hannitys have long misled Them. We liberals are already developing disordered beliefs about an array of favorite topics. If you think We could never end up like Them, we'll suggest you shouldn't feel certain.
Josh has played the careful game every step of the way. It's been a long, crazy game, one which has routinely worked through the organs of the mainstream press corps.
People like Josh have never told you. It's never been good for careers.
Josh has built a money machine at his current home. This week, he discovered that our country is off the rails.
The reporter he hired right out of college may have had her basic facts wrong. But her salary is likely quite low, and we'll guess that her report was "close enough for on-line 'liberal' work."
NBC's report is familiar yet astounding. After a quarter century of mainstream-approved Trumpism, we the people are more than just "off the rails."