Who do we liberals trust: Starting in the late 1950s, Who Do You Trust? was a popular afternoon game show.
Johnny Carson was the host. He went on to larger things. But that basic question—who do you trust?—now lies at the heart of our politics.
The Others seem to trust Donald J. Trump, even as he makes endless wild misstatements.That said, there's also the question of who we liberals trust, along with the question of who we liberals have trusted in the past.
On Sunday, in the New York Times, Frank Bruni made it hurt. In the main, he lamented the way The Others tend to trust Donald J. Trump. Along the way, in glancing fashion, he mournfully thought about some people we liberals trusted in the past:
BRUNI (10/21/18): Trump enjoys a kind and degree of immunity that few if any politicians in my lifetime have been given. His own exhaustively established indecency inoculates him. As a result, all manner of ugliness slips by—unnoticed, barely noticed or noticed and accepted as Trump being Trump.We included the part about climate change as a tragic irony, given Bruni's fleeting reference to Candidate Gore.
His interview last week with The Associated Press was a doozy that didn’t get its due. His bragging was off the charts: He said that no president had ever exerted the kind of positive effect on his party’s midterm prospects that he was exerting. He called the current economy the best in the country’s entire history.
And we once got worked up about Al Gore’s exaggerations?
In that A.P. interview, Trump also cast himself as an expert on climate change by noting that an uncle of his was an M.I.T. professor. So, he explained, “I have a natural instinct for science.”
In one large way, Bruni's column didn't make much sense. Right from the start, he seems to imply that "journalists" and "the media" don't criticize Donald J. Trump for his endless howlers. This is the way he started:
BRUNI: Elizabeth Warren screwed up. That’s clear. Her big confirmation of Native American blood offended some Native Americans, did nothing to muffle or muzzle Donald Trump and left many journalists—me included—questioning her tactical smarts.That's how Bruni started. He seems to imply that "the media" focus exclusively on misstatements and misjudgments by everyone else, while giving Trump a free pass.
But the media focus on her misjudgment, her character and whether she had the right stuff for the White House underscores the absurdity of our current politics, in terms of the advantage it confers on the president. We expect much of anyone stepping forward to challenge him. We expect absolutely nothing of him.
That notion is plainly absurd. Donald J. Trump is called a liar all day long, then on into the night. But many of The Others don't seem to trust the big stars of the mainstream press, the folk giving voice to this judgment.
The issue here turns on the question of who The Others trust. Then too, there's the question of who we liberals trust. Also, there's the question of who we were foolish enough to trust in the not-too-distant past—in the years when people like Bruni pretended that Gore was the world's biggest liar, like his boss, Bill Clinton.
Back then, mainstream figures spent twenty months inventing Gore as the person Donald Trump actually is. We liberals trusted those mainstream figures when they staged that destructive war. If we were better people, we might recall how foolish we were when we see Others putting their trust in the crazy things stated by Trump.
We liberals believed the stupid things we heard from people like Bruni. We swallowed the things we heard from Maureen Dowd. In the most astonishing case, we even swallowed the crazy things we kept hearing from Chris Matthews—the crazy things he kept saying about Gore, the ugly things he said, for ten years, about Hillary Clinton.
The Rebecca Traisters swallowed it down when Olbermann was putting his misogyny on display on a regular basis. As it turned out, the Traisters were discussing this is private, but they refused to speak up.
Today, we liberals rush to trust the true belief of Traister. We find her very hard to watch due to this horrible past.
We want you to note one point about what Bruni said. Ironically, he makes a key point about Trump v. Gore, while keeping an old tale alive:
BRUNI: [Trump's] interview last week with The Associated Press was a doozy that didn’t get its due. His bragging was off the charts: He said that no president had ever exerted the kind of positive effect on his party’s midterm prospects that he was exerting. He called the current economy the best in the country’s entire history.Implicitly, Bruni is saying that Gore's exaggerations don't hold a candle to the crazy misstatements of Trump. Implicitly, he's saying that "we journalists" were perhaps a little bit daft to get so worked up about them.
And we once got worked up about Al Gore’s exaggerations?
He's certainly right about the way his guild failed the world from March 1999 through November 2000. But even now, he isn't going to tell the full truth—that the "exaggerations" to which he refers were basically inventions of a runaway mainstream press corps.
Even today, people like Bruni won't discuss that fact. People are dead all over the world because of what Bruni and the rest of them did, but they'll never take a step back to review the past and offer a full confession.
As for us liberals, we were dumb enough to trust Bruni and Matthews and Seelye and Connolly and Williams and Rich and Dowd. We were dumb enough to trust them back then. We remain dumb enough to trust such people now.
Today, those corporate players are attacking Trump for his endless howlers. But many of The Others are inclined to put their trust in Trump rather than in them.
In our view, The Others have misplaced their trust. But it isn't like this isn't something We Ourselves, in all our imagined brilliance and greatness, have also foolishly done, with disastrous and deadly results.
We liberals! Like all tribal groups, we're strongly disinclined to see how dumb we are. We're strongly convinced that The Others are dumb, especially in the question of who they choose to trust.
(They're also racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, deplorable and irredeemable. So the tale has always been told within the world's tribal tents.)
Why don't The Others trust the people We trust? We'll examine this important question all week.
Tomorrow, we'll start with a very slimy thing Laura Ingraham did last night. Ingraham did make a slimy play, aimed at Cory Booker. But quite correctly, she took down one of our own Most Trusted Figures as she mucked around.
We hope to tie up some loose threads this week. Along the way, we hope to help you better imagine how We may look to The Others.
It's a very important question. Why won't The Others trust Us?
Tomorrow: Overt misconduct, by ours
Bruni makes it hurt: When he refers to "Gore's exaggerations," Bruni links to an analysis piece from the Los Angeles Times.
The analysis piece appeared on September 22, 2000, just as the mainstream press was inventing two new lies by Candidate Gore. (We refer to the "lies" about the union lullaby and the doggy arthritis pills.)
Excitement over Gore's new "lies" wiped away a ten-point lead he'd amassed over Bush in the polls. The piece began like this:
GERSTENZANG (9/22/00): Which of these statements did Al Gore make?That's the way the piece began. But at this point, Gerstenzang turned on a dime. He blamed "the mythology" on Candidate Gore, then quoted Leon Panetta seeming to say that Gore needed to see a psychiatrist.
A) I invented the Internet.
B) I discovered Love Canal.
He said neither. But in popular mythology, he said both. Therein lies a problem for the vice president...
Gerstenzang went on to offer novelized, misleading accounts of Gore's various "lies." This was required by law in that day.
So it went as the people we trusted struggled, fought, maneuvered and schemed to spread death around the planet. The Brunis will never discuss this history. We make one final point:
In Gerstenzang's piece, he discusses the efforts of a web site, The Daily Howler, "to counter some of the stories circulating about" Gore. Included on line is a formal "correction" by the Times (we'd be inclined to call it an amplification) concerning Gerstenzang's description of that particular site.
We lost that twenty-month fight; many people died as a result, and global politics changed. The war continued against Hillary Clinton. In November 2016, it sent Donald J. Trump to the White House.
That war was a war of the mainstream press. It was conducted by people we liberals trusted and continue to trust to this day.
We're very dumb about who we trust! It isn't simply the clueless Others, the deplorable folk Over There.