Editorial: Media-led hysteria

Reaction to sometimes boorish president is even more so

A few years ago, the subject of Sarah Palin came up in conversation and a young woman blurted out how much she hated her.

 

When asked why, she couldn’t exactly say.

We imagine the same blank stares greeting us from most folks on the street if asked how President Trump is racist.

Somehow, his highly inartful, offensively awkward and regrettable pronouncement at the start of his campaign of the need for border enforcement – and his not-politically-correct-enough statements about the protests in Charlottesville, Va. – have evolved in the media into racism. Without any actual evidence of it.

We observed recently (“The new national pastime: Overreaction,” Oct. 25) that with 24-hour news and smart phones, we are now able to not only react to events instantaneously, but also to overreact.

This is leading to reactions that are arguably worse than the actions that preceded them. While we will never defend his occasional barroom boorishness, Mr. Trump has been the target of deranged, profane and irrational insult and lament – from comedian Kathy Griffin’s severed head of the president to rapper Snoop Dogg’s mock video assassination of Trump in clown face, to snowflakes looking to the sky and wailing on the anniversary of his election to a sign in a vehicle’s back window declaring “F” Trump (spelled out) and everyone who voted for him.

And all the while, Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin encourages the piling on by declaring, “We can’t be mean enough to this guy.”

It’s not just certifiable lunacy, but it’s become dangerous to the republic. When a member of Congress, in this case Maxine Waters, whips up a crowd by calling for the impeachment of a nine-month president – who’s yet to be even accused of an impeachable offense, much less found guilty of one – that’s the stuff of nutty, unstable Third-World countries.

When crowds last year roared the anti-Hillary Clinton chant “Lock her up,” BBC News wondered if it was a new low in American politics.

One wonders if they want to recalculate that now.

It’s also sad to see major athletes falling for the hysteria, such as refusing to be feted at the White House for having won a championship.

The latest is the women’s NCAA basketball champion South Carolina Gamecocks team. Coach Dawn Staley cited a scheduling conflict, and having waited so long for the invitation. The Trump administration also didn’t single them out for recognition, as it has in the past – inviting the women to be heralded among a wash of springtime athletes, which can be viewed as a slight.

Still, it’s an American tradition not only for champions to be celebrated at the White House, but for the institution to be respected. Most of us, if we’re invited to the White House, we move heaven and earth to get there.

Not anymore. And it can’t be dismissed that the race-tinged hysteria surrounding this president played a part.

It’s a great country when you can exhibit open disregard or disrespect to the president. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And it risks making you no better than the object of your scorn.

To the extent that the media – both news and entertainment – have fanned these flames, just be a careful consumer. You can be led, and then again you can be led astray.

 

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