Sometimes, the dumb shit that gets said on cable news is just dumb shit, but sometimes it’s illustrative of a deeper truth. To the latter category, you can add this Grande Derpaccino from Morning Joe regular Mike Barnicle, who held forth, Monday morning, on the Donald Trump phenomenon that has snuck up on everyone in the world but me.
More specifically, Barnicle marveled at the rich diversity of the Trump coalition, literally calling it a “broad demographic.” Several minutes later, the Morning Joe crew revealed all the colors of the Trump rainbow, and they were “eggshell,” “light cream,” and “vanilla sugar”:
“Well, here’s the question with regard to Trump, I think, just from sensing it from the broadness of his demographic that backs him. And it’s not just one particular slice of the electorate. It’s a broad demographic. The question is what does Donald Trump’s success say about the rest of the field?”
That’s right, it turns out that on the most influential political news show in television, a “broad demographic” consists of stingy pissed-off white people, churchy pissed-off white people, and regular pissed-off white people.
Barnicle’s declaration made me laugh out loud, but then it reminded me that inspite of all the attention that’s been paid to non-white issues for the past year or so, every bit of political news gets filtered through the lens of a mainstream media that is still overwhelmingly white, and in the eight-week-old Age of Trump, that political conversation increasingly takes place only on lily-white soil. The Trump Effect has completely shifted the fulcrum of our media’s political coverage, so that even as Trump dominates, no one dares speak the self-evident name of his appeal.
If you doubt this even a little bit, check out the coverage of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush using the term “anchor babies” last week, and see if you can picture some other racial slur getting the “some say” treatment:
Whether Donald Trump or Jeb Bush are offended by “anchor baby” or not, it is not a matter of debate. “Anchor baby” is a straight-up slur, yet our mainstream media can’t bring itself to state that simple fact. As the Trump train rolls along, you can expect the media frame to become whiter and whiter, because the people for whom “anchor baby’s” offensiveness is a matter of debate are a large part of the media’s audience, and of its newsrooms.
It’s not just a matter of playing to that audience, either, it is a matter of perspective, because even a relatively normal white person can say to himself “Well, ‘anchor baby’ offends me, but it doesn’t offend these other white people, so who knows?”
It has taken a tidal wave of incontrovertible evidence to make #BlackLivesMatter in America, but the whiteness of our culture can evaporate that concern like a drop of water on a cast-iron skillet. Donald Trump is the 12,000 BTU gas burner beneath that skillet.