Several decades too late: On July 10, 2016, a young man named Seth Rich was murdered in the streets of Washington, D.C.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Seth Rich was voter-expansion data director at the Democratic National Committee. For that reason, the crazies got busy, inventing ugly conspiracy theories about his unfortunate death.
(For New York Magazine's account of these horrid events, you can just click here.)
At the upper end of this pig pile, Sean Hannity has been deeply invested in pimping these stupid, ugly stories about Rich's death. Amazingly, Newt Gingrich recently jumped on the pile.
That said, another amazing event has occurred:
Now that it's several decades too late, the mainstream press corps has started pushing back. Hannity has been forced to back off from his appalling behavior, at least for the time being.
Why do we say that this is happening "several decades too late?" Because crackpot murder conspiracy claims became a standard part of our crackpot political discourse during the early 1990s, with the mainstream press corps' participation and blessing.
Those crackpot murder claims were, of course, aimed at the Clintons. For that reason, to a man, to a woman, the mainstream press corps acted like this was OK.
This crazy conduct continued for decades. In the 1990s, the press corps acted like it was OK when a major figure like Jerry Falwell paraded around selling The Clinton Chronicles, a videotape about the Clintons' many murders. (There was no real Internet then.)
They acted like it was OK when Rush Limbaugh insinuated, suggested, hinted and claimed that Hillary Clinton, then the first lady, was up to her ears in the (suicide) death of Vince Foster.
In August 1999, the appalling Gennifer Flowers guested on Hardball for a full half-hour. Showered with praise by her paramour host, she spent a good chunk of her time pimping those crackpot murder claims.
As we noted long ago, the nation's "media reporters" didn't say boo about this astounding event. Because her claims were so crazy and vile, Flowers was then granted a full hour on Hannity & Colmes to push this bullshit further.
As recently as last September, the New York Times, in a front-page report, set out to reinstate Flowers as a credible person. They lovedlovedloved her highly implausible sexual claims, which were now being used against Hillary Clinton. For that reason, they were willing to disappear the craziness of the many other claims she had made down through the years.
Amazing! Very late in the Trump-Clinton race, the Times reinvented Gennifer Flowers as a credible accuser. (After that, Comey jumped in!)
In these ways, the craziness of our Trump-era public discourse was being created, largely through the permissiveness of the mainstream press. Now that Donald J. Trump is in office, the mainstream press has finally decided that it's time to push back.
They tolerated Falwell and his film. They tolerated Rush's insinuations. By 1998, they were standing in line to pretend that Flowers was a highly credible figure. Starting in 1999, they spent two years inventing crazy claims which Candidate Gore had supposedly made. Plus, he wore earth tones!
In these and a million other ways, they invented the crackpot world in which we now reside—a world in which an influential figure like Alex Jones makes Trump look like a voice of sanity and moderation. Have you heard? Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of that pizza joint! Also, nobody died at Newtown!
The terrible conduct involving Seth Rich coincided, in the past week, with a JFK anniversary. If you want to ponder the role the mainstream press played in the invention of modern Trump Culture, you might want to read a fascinating historical reminiscence from yesterday's Washington Post.
Ian Shapira's reminiscence concerns President Kennedy's booze-and-sex drenched 46th birthday party on the presidential yacht. How were unfortunate murders treated back then? Early on, Shapira recalls one such event:
SHAPIRA (5/29/17): The powerful and the privileged were in attendance: Kennedy’s brothers, Robert F. Kennedy, then the U.S. attorney general, and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.); Ben Bradlee, the future editor of The Washington Post who worked as Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief, along with his then-wife, Antoinette “Tony” Pinchot Bradlee; and R. Sargent Shriver, the founding director of the Peace Corps, and his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.Chances are you've never heard of the unsolved murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer. If any such event were to happen today, you'd hear on Fox that JFK came back from the grave to perform the killing himself.
The party, organized by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, also included one of Kennedy’s on-again-off-again paramours, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Tony Bradlee’s sister who was fatally shot a year later in Georgetown in a still unsolved murder, and Enud Sztanko, a young Georgetown foreign language instructor who later told a Kennedy biographer that she resisted the president’s sexual advances.
(Over the course of several years, Greta would calmly debate the question with Trump. Later, Rachel would tell us how amazingly great Greta is.)
That was a murder; Shapira's report is longer on the sex. President Kennedy's sexual behavior in the White House was little short of astounding, but it went undiscussed. Thirty-five years later, for better or worse, President Clinton's intermittent relationship with a 22-24-year-old federal employee (not with a "21-year-old intern," the novelized figure the press corps invented) had our upper-end mainstream "press corps" pleasuring themselves for years.
Last September, the New York Times worked very hard to bring all those stories back. Your favorite stars on MSNBC politely averted their gaze. Dearest darlings, use your heads! The children do not push back!
In the last month, the mainstream press has finally started pushing back against crackpot murder conspiracy claims. Inevitably, they've only decided to take this approach now that it's much too late.
In these and a million other ways, the mainstream press corps, including its liberal inhabitants, helped create the world of Donald J. Trump. The Crazy had started defining our discourse long before the birther king threw his hat in the ring.
Your favorite multimillionaire TV stars have been deeply complicit in this. The people you see chasing Trump each night, often in lazy and careless ways, are the same folk who created the world which made his ascension possible.
Quite correctly, people are pushing back in the case of Seth Rich. Unfortunately, they've only decided to function this way now that it's much too late.
The work of Rachel's dear friend: This was Chris Matthews, though only in part, speaking to Gennifer Flowers on that ludicrous Hardball show in August 1999:
"I gotta pay a little tribute here. You're a very beautiful woman, and I—and I have to tell you, he knows that, you know that, and everybody watching knows that. Hillary Clinton knows that. How can a woman put up with a relationship between her husband and somebody, anybody, but especially somebody like you that's a knockout?...It's an objective statement, Gennifer. I'm not flirting."
For the record, there was never any serious evidence that Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers had a "relationship" or an "affair." On this particular night, the utterly ridiculous Flowers was crazily pushing the murder claims against the Clintons. Seventeen years later, out on page one, the New York Times fought to bring her credibility back.
Your favorite stars won't tell you these things. Careers hang in the balance!