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At Long Last, The Media Must Take Some Blame

FINALLY, someone on cable television notes that the media has coddled Donald Trump all along. Thank you, Medhi Hassan.

THIS. At long last, someone on cable television (yeah, it's Peacock, but still) notes that the media has coddled Donald Trump all along. Thank you, Medhi Hassan:

MEDHI HASSAN: For the past few days many of us in the media have been rightly slamming Republicans for their role in the insurrection last Wednesday, and for enabling the worst excesses of Donald Trump. What we haven't really done is take a long hard look at ourselves our own role in enabling him over the years. Because what happened last week didn't come out of the blue. It wasn't without warning or precedent. it was clear from day one that a Trump presidency would be authoritarian, bigoted, serially dishonest, outside the bounds of any previous modern presidency. It was clear that we shouldn't normalize him. But we did.

Year after year we allowed him and his students to flood the zone with nonsense.

We did cover each controversy, but then we moved on. We gave him a pass again and again, even when domestic terrorists carried out attacks in his name. We graded him on a curve. We asked him softballs. We kept hitting the reset button.

Oh, it's a new day for Trump.

It's a new tone.

He's a new man.

This is the day he became president.

Trump's racism was on full display from the moment he came down that escalator and called Mexican immigrants rapists, and yet until very recently, media organizations bent over backward to avoid saying the r-word. Instead, we heard "racially charged," "racially tinged," "racially divisive," "racially insensitive." Why couldn't they have just said, racist? How about the f word? "How can you say fascism?" people said to me when I called Trump a fascist on primetime cable just six months ago. Well, now, after a fascist mob overran the seat of our government, now everyone's saying it, including people who worked for the president!

Who could have known? Well, the sad reality is that a lot of black and brown voices in the media, those of us who have had to battle racism and white supremacy all our lives? We were calling out Trump long before others. Long before the Capitol attack, and without much support from our peers.

That's why diversity matters. The US media has been too white for too long, and I'm glad things are changing, including here at NBC, and I'd like to think I'm a product of that change but a there's a long way still to go. And this isn't a game. It isn't a box ticking exercise. It has real consequences. When you have white supremacy on the rise you need journalists who are clear-eyed about the threat that poses and are willing to call it out. What we shouldn't have had is a sanitizing of white supremacy and fascism. Remember "the Nazi next door" profile in The New York Times? The guy who likes watching Seinfeld? Remember the profile of the neo-Nazi with prom king good looks who was trying to make racism cool again? Look, don't get me wrong, media organizations including papers like The New York Times and magazines like Mother Jones did excellent, excellent investigative reporting during the Trump years, uncovering scandal after scandal. Reporters and photographers at the Capitol last week did risk their lives to bring us the news of that historic and horrific attack. But when it came to connecting the editorial dots, when it came to telling the truth to our readers and our viewers about the authoritarian, and yes fascistic, nature of this presidency, when it came to grappling with the racism and white nationalism motivating both this president and many of his supporters, when it came to telling the truth not about abstract "polarization" but the far-right extremism of one particular party, too many in the media bottled it. At some point we have to own this.

Donald Trump and his mob succeeded in getting this far because we, the media, failed.

We failed you. Too many journalists and news organizations opted for "It's both sides, it's a new tone, it's just rhetoric, it's just a few fringe crazies" for far too long.

And so look, if you work in the media and only now is the moment you're truly shocked by Trump or by Trump's supporters, only now is the moment you think he's gone too far, you have to ask yourself why. Why did you turn a blind eye to the threat for so long? Because our democracy is now at stake, and what happens the next time a Trump-like figure comes close to high office in this country, will we speak truth to power or will we echo the utterly and infamously cynical view expressed by then CBS news chairman Les Moonves when asked about the Trump phenomenon: "It may not be good for America," he said, "but it's damn good for CBS."

That way lies the end of democracy, and it's up to us, the fourth estate, to have a reckoning, and to do better, To do much better.

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