So yeah, Clinton called half of Trump supporters “deplorables” and to this day it’s a talking point on the right. Last week Trump called anybody who votes Democratic “crazy” – not a story at all. Funny how the liberal media has such a conservative bias when it comes to stories that reinforce umbrage.
The hack gap explains why Clinton’s email server received more television news coverage than all policy issues combined in the 2016 election. It explains why Republicans can hope to get away with dishonest spin about preexisting conditions. It’s why Democrats are terrified that Elizabeth Warren’s past statements about Native American heritage could be general election poison in 2020, and it’s why an internecine debate about civility has been roiling progressive circles for nearly two years even while the president of the United States openly praises assaulting journalists.
Which brings us the important point that most of the issues we talk about as being created by Fox News/talk radio are about nonsense in that they’re not inaccurate, they’re just not important. Hillary’s e-mails or Benghazi are great examples of matters that got blown out of all proportion by conservative media in order to be able to beat their enemy over the head with it. There is no equivalent on the other side, even for matters that do somewhat matter.
Yglesias points out that when Trump said he was too busy to visit the troops, it’s low hanging fruit to posit what Fox News would have said if Obama said such a thing. The point is there’s no Democratic politician, or media outlet, that actively made the case in an angry manner that it’s outrageous that Trump said that. It’s outrageous that he hasn’t visited troops two years into his presidency. Maybe some Democratic pol said something about that on the stump somewhere but we didn’t hear about that. If Democrats really wanted to make that an issue to use against Trump and Republicans they would have to make coordinate irate speeches in front of cameras and push that meme as a talking point. They could do that. It would be legitimate to criticize Trump on that and make Republicans have to answer questions about it.
But Democrats don’t manufacture outrage or coordinate messages on what some may call unimportant topics. They have no problem going to the well on things like Social Security and Medicare, healthcare, racism – 100% legitimate issues. Republicans have no such reticence. They make “unimportant” issues into important ones not just for their followers, but for the media at large, which then has to follow that bouncing ball.
If Chuck Schumer and a bunch of other Democrats had made firy spit spouting speeches about how outrageous it is that Trump said he had no time to visit troops and the Democratic Party coordinated messaging (push polls, mailers, e-mails) around Trump’s statement, they could easily push that story into the media in such a way that would have a depressing effect on Trump’s approval and force Republicans to be on the defensive about it.
If conservatives have taught us anything it’s that you have to make arguments not just about what we would all consider important, but also about things that are arguably important, if not actually trivial.
If we want to stay on a higher road and not go down the shameful road of elevating complete nonsense and dishonesty, fine. No argument that we do not have to make up bullshit about them they way they make up bullshit about us. There are plenty of actual issues and behavior that we can highlight in a forceful way. But we do have to do that. We can’t just save our righteous rage for the massive issues. The way to create a critical mass of media and public criticism, even for a character as widely despised as Trump, is to push the important stuff like the Russia investigation and the arguably unimportant stuff that you can make a critical argument about like visiting the troops, or the inaction on opioids.