Accuracy in Media

Tom Perriello, former Democratic congressman and failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate, wrote in Thursday’s Washington Post that he interviewed some “armed protesters” who demonstrated their racism by calling President Obama “a national embarrassment” they needed to “cleanse.”

Perriello called for establishing Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Virginia. Here’s a truth for him: If you think calling President Obama a “national embarrassment” who needs to be cleansed is bad, you should see what President Trump goes through from political leaders and their mainstream media handmaidens.

The media tries to pretend there is some measure of equality here – Trump is not getting it any worse than Obama. But there is no comparison.

The day before Perriello’s piece appeared, Keith Olbermann called Trump a racist, a white nationalist, filth, pig, scum and the “worst elected leader in the history of all the western democracies” – all in one seven-minute rant on the GQ website. In June, Perriello called Trump a “narcissistic maniac” in a campaign ad.

Elsewhere in the Post, there was this:

“A president so lacking in basic decency, empathy, honesty and dedication to the task of governance seems to give Americans the sense that the country, not just Trump, has suffered a loss of character. Trump’s conviction that wealth is the measure of a person and his overt racism do represent a historic decline in the stature of the office he holds.”

That was Jennifer Rubin, the Post’s self-described conservative blogger, who calls Trump’s Republicans “the party of Charlottesville” and says it “deserves extinction.”

Charles Blow wrote a column in the New York Times Thursday that said Trump “was always a liar, bully, misogynist, opportunist and economic isolationist,” but now is both a “racist and a sadist.” Salon carried a piece on Trump’s followers that declared him “objectively unfit for office,” and “a psychopath at the podium” whose seven months in office have brought “lies, sleaze, impulsivity, laziness, vengeance, arrogance, ineptitude, ignorance, nepotism, self-love and Putin love.”

Don Lemon of CNN came close to outright calling Trump a racist.

“It’s so obvious,” Lemon said. “It’s not even a dog-whistle anymore. It’s just flat-out bias. Flat out discrimination that they’re touting from this White House.”

Take stock of the lists here. Liar, bully, misogynist, opportunist, economic isolationist, racist and sadist. Racist, white nationalist, filth, pig, scum. Lacking in basic decency, empathy, honesty and dedication.

The differences are significant. Perriello’s interviewees in Charlottesville are far from the only private citizens to call Obama a national embarrassment or worse. But the companies that pose as impartial purveyors of the news call Trump far worse. A level of respect for the office has disappeared, a level of decorum and perspective abandoned.

One would be hard put to find a news clipping in Obama’s eight years that referred to him as a psychopath or objectively unfit for office, even though there are plenty of people who thought as much and who found his policies as odious as Trump’s opponents find his.

But the quotes in this story all come from within the last week. This is every day for the Trump administration. Every day it is bombarded with long lists of epithets that have included death threats, the symbolic beheading of the president by a third-rate comedian, and brutal and unending contempt.

Every day, the ridicule of him, his wife’s shoes, his son’s shirts, his daughter’s clothes, his associates’ wealth before taking office intensifies. It was not just the Democratic Party that lost an election last November. It was not even just the political left.

The media lost an election last year. The candidate it had protected and nurtured and cast in the best light was defeated by the candidate it did everything it could to prevent from taking office.

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