September 23, 2020

I was not just surprised, but stunned that Morning Joe devoted its first hour to discussing Donald Trump and the signs of rising fascism in the United States. Hard to pick out just one segment, but this portion with Jay Johnson was instructive.

"In 2016, I was on a speaking tour with the German consulate, going around the country talking about the 2016 election. I was talking to sort of a German equivalent of NPR in Frankfurt and everybody was asking me, 'Is he going to get elected?' The Germans were really worried. There was an older woman there, and I said, 'Look, the numbers say probably not, you know, et cetera, et cetera. He says these really crazy racist things. It seems unlikely. The electoral college doesn't work in his favor,' " he recounted.

"And the oldest woman in the room, who was in her 80s, said, 'We were saying the same thing about Hitler in the '30s, in Germany.' So, you're right, Joe. I mean, I was across the ocean and had Germans saying, 'I can't believe you Americans don't see that this is coming. and I think the most worrisome part that I have to say in all of this is, you're right, yeah, there were people who called it out, black people, Latinos, Asians who called it out. I think it took too long for many members of the press to accept that.

"And people who were saying it in 2015 were sometimes called, you know, 'you're being hyperbolic, you're using extreme language, it won't get that bad, other people will keep him in control.' And that's why we are where we are today."

Joe Scarborough pointed out that the federal judiciary has done "a pretty exemplary job of holding Donald Trump's worst instincts in check." (Of course, Trump has appointed over 200 right wing judges now.)

"The press, the investigative corps of the press, they've done an exemplary job in many ways as well. But where he breaks through these norms and where polite society is not allowed to say, this is -- he's talking the way fascists talk -- that's where there is a concern. And I will say, again, I have long had faith in the institutions of this country to hold Donald Trump in check. I believe the institutions of this country have done a good job, for the most part, other than the spineless Congress, the spineless United States Senate, of holding this man in check and his worst autocratic, fascist instincts."

And here's the part that really shocked me: Scarborough spelled out the failings of the press in coming to terms with what's happening.

"I think, though, what Masha Gessen has said, what Jay Rosen has underlined at NYU, is the fact that we haven't been as good in the media of moving beyond our current political lexicon, the political lexicon, the language, the boundaries of debate that we've used over the past 240 years because we've never had a president that's spoken like this."

This is very significant, that Morning Joe is sounding this alarm. Who will listen who doesn't already know?

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