Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Give Him No Platform


And that's when I knew I was wrong.

On March 23 I wrote

Broadcast live, these task force briefings are more partisan political affair than informative news event. They should be televised only on delay, shown only after Daniel Dale and other fact-checkers have had an opportunity to vet remarks by such political actors as the President, the Vice-President, and the Surgeon General. As remarks are heard, a script at the bottom of the screen would indicate results of the fact check.

Since then, it has become clear to me, as it had to a few others by then, that these are campaign events, a mix of the President's personal resentments, strategic invective, and lies.  Responding to Tuesday's briefing:
Donald Trump's periodic lies about "voter fraud" are the most insidious because the truth is not simple and the specter of voter impersonation fraud are at the core of GOP electoral strategy.

The "autopsy" the Republican Party performed on itself in 20013, in the wake of yet another defeat in a presidential election, prescribed support for "comprehensive immigration reform" and outreach to African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and gay voters.

Then Donald Trump came along and won the presidency with a vigorous anti-immigrant message and  emphasis on ethnic bias, and the earlier prescription was shelved.  Following the direction of Senate Majority Leader McConnell, whose wife was selected for the President's cabinet, the party would be all in for Donald Trump.  The President would lead the party and brook no dissent.

The effort to squash voting in heavily Democratic Milwaukee is only the latest manifestation of the GOP's electoral strategy. Republicans know that if a lot of people vote, it is blacks, Latinos, and young people, who traditionally have a low turnout, who will turn out in higher numbers than normal. 
On March 30, the Present had called in to Trump TV's Fox and Friends and "dismissed a Democrat-led push for (voting) reforms" by stating "The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again."

That should have been obvious. However, the President thought it necessary to tweet on Wednesday morning

Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason,  doesn’t work out well for Republicans.

Still, aside from fact-checker Dale, Soledad O'Brien, and a few others, there was still little little of Trump's intent, and even less indication that people appreciated the implication. The President of the United States has made it very clear- he does not want people to vote and he's going to do whatever it takes to make sure they don't.

Fact-checking as Donald Trump spews a string of fabrications is more difficult than I understood, even recently. Moreover, it takes context for independent-minded voters to understand the damage and danger in the  distortion and lies characterizing virtually every appearance the President makes.

Refusing to show these dog-and-pony shows will enrage the President; good. They will undermine his obsession with being the center of attention at any and all times. They deprive him of at least one platform to disseminate propaganda.

It is irresponsible to give Donald Trump the forum to promote his campaign and various prejudices with reckless disregard for truth. Though there is no perfect remedy to the evil embodied in one man, media organizations must recognize- as they do- that the briefings are only campaign events, and dishonest ones.  Deciding not to tilt the election toward the incumbent by broadcasting them is the least which should be expected of them.



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