Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is pushing commentators to stop being part of the reality TV circus by refusing to go on news programs that broadcast President Donald Trump’s press conferences. He said Mr. Trump is a “crackpot” and that the media does more harm than good by airing the president’s nonsense.
Mr. Dean acknowledged his decision would make no difference as a single individual, but that if others joined suit, it would.
The odds are overwhelmingly against Mr. Dean. If he chooses not to respond to the networks’ call for a response, they will go elsewhere. He would need to find another means by which to broadcast his thoughts.
His political profile would drop a notch or two; that said, he is right to draw attention to the national media’s skew toward news that sells as opposed to news that informs. The president plays into the media’s needs as neatly as anyone ever could. It’s not rational thought that sells, it’s the president saying maybe people could drink Lysol to fight the virus, or just spend a lot of time in the sun. That’s what sells.
What Mr. Dean sees is that the national media needs Mr. Trump as much as he needs them. It’s a frenzy of sorts, with the media pushing “it’s the end of the world” story 24/7, and the president jumping up to say it won’t last, that everything is fine, that he’s in absolute control, that the decisions ahead will be the most difficult of his lifetime, but that no one else is capable of handling the stress or the complexity of the virus.
The national media isn’t about to drop live coverage of the president’s press conferences. It’s the most profitable theater on the planet.
It’s astounding that we are even having this conversation. We’ve never had a president quite this detached from the real world, or one so starved for self-adulation, or one so science adverse. We’ve also never had national media voices so clearly aligned with one side or the other, mirror images of the divide that consumes us politically.
Unintended or not, Mr. Dean, a national level Democrat, went out of his way to compliment Vermont’s Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, for his leadership. “I think he’s doing a terrific job. He’s measured, he listens to his advisers, he’s doing the right thing with very careful attempt to get back to normal. I think Vermonters have a much shrewder view of who their leadership is and what they’re doing. They are willing to follow Phil’s lead as long as he tells the truth, and he’s telling the truth.”
Notice Mr. Dean did not feel the need to urge the media to forgo live coverage of Mr. Scott’s press conferences, which are not only lengthy but popular among Vermonters. The difference between the two shows is that one is trustworthy and informative, the other is like being on the set of the Netflix crew filming “Joe Exotic, the Tiger King.”
Mr. Exotic is now in jail, and has petitioned the president for a pardon. Stranger things....
Mr. Dean? Exit, stage left.
by Emerson Lynn