I am really not sure how much evidence Brian Stelter needs that Donald Trump is a sociopath who not only won't show empathy, he actually has none to offer. Yet over and over, we see CNN's media critic not only denying what is right in front of him, but actually giving Trump space to exhibit even more cruelty than the day before.
Trump's former ghostwriter Tony Schwartz has no hesitation about who Trump is. During a discussion about Mary Trump's book due out Tuesday, Schwartz described exactly who Trump is and why it matters.
I've written several weeks ago a piece called "The Psychopath in Chief" and tried to lay out what I think is the core diagnosis. And so does Mary Trump, which is he is a man without conscience and empathy. That allows him to be responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people and not give a damn. That's how he can go forward with his policies, Brian, because he doesn't actually care. If it's the end always justifies the means and the only end is being reelected. The problem is his time has passed. America is moving beyond him.
The best response to this indictment would have been to point to evidence that Schwartz is right on the money. There are examples every day, from the way he's handled the pandemic to the way he treats children seeking refuge from abuse at the border to his decree to force children back to school in the fall. There are too many examples to count.
Instead, Stelter came back with this: "I don't want to believe you. I don't want to believe you, Tony. I don't want to imagine he doesn't care about the loss of life."
TRUMP DOES NOT CARE. If we can't get the media to understand this, it's because there's someone in a position to criticize how Trump is covered wanting to see no evil.
He doesn't care. He can't. Read Adam Serwer's essay "The Cruelty is the Point":
We can hear the spectacle of cruel laughter throughout the Trump era. There were the border-patrol agents cracking up at the crying immigrant children separated from their families, and the Trump adviser who delighted white supremacists when he mocked a child with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother. There were the police who laughed uproariously when the president encouraged them to abuse suspects, and the Fox News hosts mocking a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub massacre (and in the process inundating him with threats), the survivors of sexual assault protesting to Senator Jeff Flake, the women who said the president had sexually assaulted them, and the teen survivors of the Parkland school shooting. There was the president mocking Puerto Rican accents shortly after thousands were killed and tens of thousands displaced by Hurricane Maria, the black athletes protesting unjustified killings by the police, the women of the #MeToo movement who have come forward with stories of sexual abuse, and the disabled reporter whose crime was reporting on Trump truthfully. It is not just that the perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it; it is that they enjoy it with one another. Their shared laughter at the suffering of others is an adhesive that binds them to one another, and to Trump.
We are out of time for anyone to give a benefit of the doubt to Donald Trump. 137,000 souls demand that he viewed in the harshest light possible and held to account, especially by those in the media who have a large platform.
I hope Stelter rethinks that and does better.