Kevin Drum of Mother Jones said it best last week, mostly because he expressed what so many of us have kept bottled up inside this election season. In a piece titled, appropriately, "Tell Us How You Really Feel, Kevin," Drum let loose with a profanity-laden tirade meant to in some small way get across his outrage and astonishment at everything the 2016 presidential race has become. In other words, everything the embarrassing rise of Donald Trump has brought us, said about us, and meant for us as a nation. He says that when he really stops to think about all that's happening right now, his "mind goes sort of fugue-like." That's when he can't help but want to say one thing...
What the fuck is going on? Donald Trump! Donald fucking Trump! He's a jackass reality TV star. He's goddamn clueless. For fuck's sake, this can't be happening. Can it? Fucking fuck. Why isn't anyone calling it out? It's like Alice in fucking Wonderland. How can we be doing this? Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.
Without even really scratching the surface of Trump's unearthly orange testicle-like skin, you could say what Drum is saying here. Just at face value, Trump -- a proudly ignorant, comically narcissistic reality show buffoon -- is self-evidently unfit for any office, let alone the presidency of the United States. He has no business being anywhere near the White House based solely on his pathological personality and temperament and what his ascension says about us as a failed state full of idiots who maybe don't deserve to be allowed to govern themselves. But the wealth of horribleness that Trump's personality has given us over the past year, that's where it becomes clear that Donald Trump is an existential threat to our democracy.
I could run down the litany of offenses, but honestly it would take all day (or, as Keith Olbermann shows us today, at least 15 minutes). It's true we've become inured to his insults and lies and threats and insane proclamations and racism and misogyny and grotesque nationalism. We've become numb to the idea that, basically, the very bottom of the internet has come to life and is now one step away from holding the most powerful office in the world. But while we can tune it out and pretend it isn't happening, it's the job of the political media to pay attention to it. It's their responsibility to not go numb -- because it's their responsibility to never let us forget what's happening right now, to put it in its proper context, and to hammer the point home that nothing about this is normal.
And yet the political media has become accustomed to Trump's awfulness the way you eventually get used to a bad smell if you stand in it long enough. In a concerted effort to create a tighter, more dramatic "horse race," the standard need to couch every issue as if there are two equal sides to it, or maybe both, the mainstream political press has gotten used to the bad smell of Trump -- and now it's committing journalistic malpractice on a grand and alarming scale.
That's why this needs to be said and it needs to be said loud and clear, far and wide: a 68-year-old woman who's been going around the country nonstop for more than a year coming down with something perfectly ordinary that makes her sick -- that's not a fucking story. Okay, maybe it's a story -- but it's not the story, the only story that matters this election. There's nothing wrong with pointing out that Hillary Clinton has pneumonia, or with giving her e-mail server your due diligence, or with asking questions about the Clinton Foundation. That's what you're supposed to do as a journalist who follows politics.
But here's the thing: When you spotlight those stories without context or elevate them beyond the scope of what they objectively deserve, either intentionally or simply out of some misguided notion of "balance," you're being negligent. When you pretend that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are somehow equally offensive -- that a private e-mail server or a bout with pneumonia is the same as insulting Gold Star families, mocking the handicapped, cozying up to Russia to the point where Vladimir Putin essentially has a hand in a U.S. presidential election; that there's any comparison on the Democratic side to Trump's near-constant barrage of lies and bullshit boasts -- you're simply not telling the truth.
And the stakes are far too high for the political press to be slacking off, or, worse, purposely creating an equivalence where absolutely none exists.
As of right now, there is only one story this election season -- and that's the fact that a dangerous, thoroughly abnormal candidate is in the running for the U.S. presidency. At no point should the press forget who Trump is, what he's said and done, and what an America under his control would look like. Trump has pummeled this country with so much obscene behavior that he's left us unable to be truly shocked anymore. He's set the bar so low that it was always a guarantee that by merely not insulting someone for a couple of days -- by just keeping his fucking mouth shut -- he could start a whole new media narrative about how he was finally "maturing."
But he's not. He won't. He'll always be exactly who he's been throughout this entire election and exactly who he was for decades before. There's no reality in which a man like Trump deserves to be rewarded with the stewardship of our nation. That would be a disaster. He's told us as much, over and over again. The political media has to know this and it should be one of the biggest stories they will ever cover. The political media should be relentless in terms of taking Trump to task. He's given them every single reason in the world to.