Donald Trump gave yet another unhinged rally speech on Tuesday night, and how did the media cover it? By normalizing Trump, with NPR calling the speech “wide-ranging” rather than, say, “incoherent, disjointed, filled with lies, and abusive.” According to The New York Times, it’s a “standard, rambling stump speech, which combines inflated boasts about his record, rosy memories about his 2016 victory and grievances about the way he has been treated by Democrats.”
Oh, so that’s what it was?
During the speech, Trump “joked” about running for president again in 10 years, because ha ha it’s funny to talk openly about fulfilling your dreams of being a dictator and your disdain for the constitution. He went on yet another rant about appliances he has obviously never used, like dishwashers. He again claimed that energy-efficient light bulbs make people look orange, a convenient claim for him personally. He showed once again that Donald Trump never, ever believes a woman by saying, of the question of whether Sen. Bernie Sanders told Sen. Elizabeth Warren he didn’t think a woman could win the presidency in 2020, that “I don’t believe Bernie said that, I really don’t.” He also waved off the legal need to claim an imminent threat to justify the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
And to write it up in that form—as ridiculous and at times frightening as all of it is—is to do Trump a favor. As Vox’s Aaron Rupar wrote, “It is difficult to cover Trump, and it is important to honor the public’s trust in the press by providing fair and balanced coverage. But we also have to pay attention to how much more alarming the unfiltered Trump is when compared to the sanitized version that often emerges in mainstream media reporting.”
In 2015 and 2016, the media failed the people of the United States by treating Trump as a celebrity, giving him hours of free airtime for everything he did, and failing to fact-check even his most outlandish statements. Since then, the media has failed the people of the United States by refusing to show him as he is up against the harsh light of the reality he so fiercely rejects. Whatever you think it is—and it could be a lot of different things, of different kinds—there is something wrong with Trump, something profoundly disturbing and dangerous, and the reporting on him does not reflect that.