Again, the road not taken: In his first segment on last night's Last Word, Lawrence O'Donnell ambled down 2018's most important road not taken.
He was discussing Donald J. Trump. This is what he said:
O'DONNELL (1/2/19): Well, in his first public speaking of the new year, today the president of the United States revealed that the 27 psychiatrists and mental health professionals who call out in the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump are right, that Donald Trump's condition is obviously getting worse.To watch the whole segment, click here.
Now, all of us in middle age and above find ourselves spending more and more time looking for our keys. There's some neurological decline that's absolutely inevitable over time, can't escape it. But Donald Trump's is dramatic. If you thought that his pathological lying could not become more pathological or that he could not become more delusional, you were wrong and the mental health professionals who told us he would are right.
Here is a sample of President Trump's 2019 mental process...
Lawrence went on to offer some unconvincing, poorly conceived examples of Trump's "mental process," which is allegedly "more pathological" this year. After presenting his slipshod examples, the cable star offered this:
O'DONNELL: And so, the president's delusion is getting worse, much worse. Or at least his willingness to publicly display his delusion is getting even worse now as he ages and as we enter a New Year.Is the president's "mental process," "delusion" or "condition" actually getting worse? In his lazy opening burst, Lawrence illustrated some of the potential problems with the most important road the mainstream press corps chose not to take last year.
For starters, what's The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the book to which Lawrence refers? Due to the mainstream press corps' road not taken, it's very possible you've never heard about this book on cable news.
What's the book to which Lawrence refers? The leading authority on the book describes it thusly:
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump is a 2017 book, edited by Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist, containing essays from 27 psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals on the "clear and present danger" that U.S. President Donald Trump's mental health poses to the "nation and individual well being." They argued that the president's mental health was affecting the mental health of the people of the United States and that he places the country at grave risk of involving it in a war and of undermining democracy itself because of his pathological narcissism and sociopathy. Consequently, Trump's presidency represents an emergency not only allowing, but perhaps also requiring, psychiatrists to deviate from the American Psychiatric Association's Goldwater rule, which holds that it is unethical for psychiatrists to give professional opinions about public figures without examining them in person.Bandy Lee is a Yale psychiatrist. She tried to start a public discussion through the publication of this book, which has been widely ignored.
Lee actually knows what she's talking about. But as we've told you in the past, the New York Times editorial board decided that mainstream journalists mustn't discuss these topics, except of course at cocktail parties speaking among themselves. In January 2018, they wrote an editorial to that effect, and everyone rushed into line.
Is Donald Trump's "mental health" a danger to the nation and the world? Is it possible that he's actually suffering from such conditions as "pathological narcissism" and "sociopathy?"
It seems to us that those are very obvious pressing questions. But the Times said the topic must be ignored, and everyone fell into line.
On its face, that seems like a bad journalistic decision. That said, Lawrence shows us what would have happened if a different approach had obtained.
His examples last night were silly and unconvincing, except by the grading standards of cable entertainment. Beyond that, he wandered the countryside, trying and failing to define what he was talking about.
Was he talking about type of cognitive impairment? Was he talking about "mental illness" of some type? It was very unclear from his presentation. But such is the way of partisan cable.
The press decided to take a pass on the emperor's new mental condition. Had they decided to tackle the topic, they almost surely would have done so sloppily, lazily, poorly.
In large part, we got to our current dangerous place through the lazy work of these feckless types over the past thirty years. There's no sign the quality of their work will improve in this entertaining new year.