As I have indicated more than once in my columns for The New Criterion, I am the reverse of enthusiastic about the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, yet the more the media hate and gang up on him, the more inclined I am to like him. Perhaps it’s just my contrarian nature. On Sunday The Washington Post took the occasion of left-wing attempts to disrupt Trump rallies to launch an all out attack—not on the demonstrators but on the candidate, for the “violence” which his candidacy is said to have “unleashed across the country.” According to Karen Tumulty, Jenna Johnson and Jose A. DelReal, in other words, Mr. Trump must have made the demonstrators do it and therefore had it coming to him.
Their point was reinforced by the normally more sensible Dan Balz in the same day’s paper, who wrote that Mr. Trump “continues to call out dark forces that divide a polarized America. Fueled by acrimonious rhetoric, he has sparked an angry movement that has now created an angry backlash.” If so, that “backlash” was both “organized and organic,” according to yet another Post piece that day by Mark Guarino and Jenna Johnson, who seemed to think that it was of a piece with the “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations in Chicago and elsewhere—which, of course, long antedated Mr. Trump’s candidacy. “We stopped Trump!” they report the Chicago demonstrators’ as triumphantly chanting.
If those words sent a chill down the spine of the media, presumptively devoted as they always have been to freedom of speech, there was precious little evidence of it in the Post. Over in the same day’s New York Times, Michael Barbaro, Ashley Parker and Trip Gabriel were a little more circumspect about preserving their putative journalistic objectivity, noting that “Donald Trump’s Heated Words Were Destined to Stir Violence, Opponents Say”—which at least includes the fig-leaf of “opponents say.” Ashley Parker of the Times is similarly even-handed, writing that:
Mr. Trump says he condemns violence. But he also shouts at his crowds to “Get ’em out!” And even when he urges them not to hurt the protesters, a hard edge of menace bullets his words. Yet the protesters, too, have sometimes instigated the clashes. They fling themselves to the ground, forcing law enforcement officers—often outmanned and overwhelmed—to drag them away. They also shout and curse, making obscene gestures as they are led from events. And Friday night in Chicago, in perhaps the best-organized effort so far, they came not to simply stand quietly but to utterly halt Mr. Trump’s ability to deliver his speech. Both sides say they feel deeply wronged and disenfranchised, albeit in different ways.
An interesting use of the nonce verb “bullets” there, don’t you think? But how generous to concede that, nevertheless, there is fault on both sides!
The same idea must lie behind the Times’s “Room for Debate” feature which runs today and which is as much a bogus “debate” as the televised ones of the campaign. Three of the four contributors do not answer directly the ostensible question, which is: “Should Trump Be Allowed to Kick Protesters Out of His Rallies?” Nadine Strossen of the ACLU fudges it by writing (incredibly) that “Trump Needs to Show Respect for Free Speech” by allowing “non-disruptive demonstrators” at his rallies. In any other context, one feels sure, she would be the first to insist that the very presence of demonstrators at a campaign rally is disruptive. Eugene Puryear, described as an “activist,” also dodges by saying that Trump only excludes demonstrators because he is afraid to be “challenged”—and so, basically, that he has it coming to him for his own “hatred” and “vitriol.” In other words, “I hate Trump.” There’s a debate for you. Jeffrey Blehar, a lawyer and an elections analyst evades the issue in a different way by saying that the demonstrators are counter-productive and more likely to help than hurt Trump.
Only Andrew King, an assistant prosecuting attorney and blogger at FaultLines answers directly and unambiguously that “Presidential Candidates Need Control of Their Message”—and therefore have the right to exclude those who would drown it out. You might think that that would be so obvious as to leave no “Room for Debate” but The New York Times, touched in its own way by Trump Derangement Syndrome, obviously thinks differently. In spite of the media’s attacks on him, I still continue to intend that I will not support Donald Trump but, to adapt the words of Marco Rubio, it’s getting harder every day.