You could hear the press heave a huge sigh of relief when the Trump "Grab them by the pussy" tape came out. They finally had a way to take Trump apart without discussing the rampant racism of his campaign and his followers.
Vox's Dylan Matthews chronicles the media's curious obsession with transforming Trump's howling mob of white supremacists into a sympathetic group of wronged economic refugees:
The press has gotten extremely comfortable with describing a Trump electorate that simply doesn’t exist. Cottle describes his supporters as “white voters living on the edges of the economy.” This is, in nearly every particular, wrong.
There is absolutely no evidence that Trump’s supporters, either in the primary or the general election, are disproportionately poor or working class.
There is, however, a mountain of evidence that Trump's followers are breathtakingly racist and overwhelmingly motivated by white supremacy. Matthews lays out the indisputable evidence but this has actually been very clear for a very long time. Trump has repeatedly reached out the "alt-right", the conservative movement's openly white supremacist wing. In fact, Trump's entire campaign has been centered around this faction.
But being as this is America, it was considered gauche to point this out no matter how glaringly obvious it was. It's just not kosher to discuss how rabidly anti-Semitic, anti-Latino, anti-black, etc. Trump's followers are!
Matthews explains it as a need for liberal journalists to not be mean to conservatives:
The American press is overwhelmingly made up of left-of-center white people who live in large cities and have internalized very strong anti-racist norms. As a result, it tends to be composed of people who think of racism as a very, very serious character defect, and who are riddled with anxiety about being perceived as out of touch with “real America.” “Real America” being, per decades of racially charged tropes in our culture, white, non-urban America.
But it's more than that. Behold, the dual lies of "real America" and "the liberal media" paying dividends. The "liberal" media has so internalized the idea that telling an ugly truth about white conservatives means having a "liberal agenda" that they tie themselves into knots to avoid it.
This is how Republicans have been able to so freely lie about their policies with little to no push back from the "liberal" press while Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party are expected to be a paragon of honesty at all times.
With Trump's sleaziness being exposed, the press is free to stop talking about the right's open embrace of the kind of racism we were pretending doesn't exist in America anymore. Crisis averted.
Or is it?
What happens after the election when Trump's millions of rabid followers refuse to go back into the white supremacy closet? After decades of living in the shadows, they've been given license to hate out in the open again. Worse, they've been given license to be proud of their bigotry. It's a badge of honor to be called deplorable by that lying liberal whore!
Republicans and the press are going to find that Trump's deplorables aren't going to settle for the agreed upon dog whistles anymore. They're going to demand aggressively uncoded racism and it's very likely Trump will be there to feed it to them.
The downside is that Republicans and the press will be able to claim they're not "real" conservatives and that Trump was just an aberration. That could allow the GOP to continue its decades long dog whistle politics and not pay the price for it.
But on the other hand, if enough of Trump's supporters spurn the Republican Party to follow their orange-faced pied piper, the GOP will either have to abase itself for their support or finally move back towards the center to attract the minorities they chased away.
Either way, we're looking at a loss of Republican power that will take them a generation to recover from, especially after the newly liberal Supreme Court strikes down the extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression laws that are keeping the GOP in unearned power.
The only questions are how long will Trump's deplorables remain an albatross around the neck of the conservative movement and how will the "liberal" media turn a blind eye to the hate they represent?