One of the most effective tools of the Civil Rights Movement was the use of name and shame to reveal the identity of a person or organization guilty of illegal or unacceptable behavior in order to embarrass them into not repeating the offense.
This is harder to do today now that we have a conservative media entertainment complex that is shameless, and that has created an alternate reality in which those who engage in such illegal or unacceptable behavior feel that they are entitled to do so and receive affirmation from the right-wing noise machine.
The latest feigned outrage of the day from the media is comments made by Hillary Clinton at a private fundraiser that the media villagers who love the “both sides are equally bad” narrative and false equivalency reporting were quick to label as a “gaffe.” It was not a gaffe, it was the truth, and is the use of “name it and shame it” to embarrass a segment of Trump supporters into not supporting a blatant racist.
Clinton’s remarks took attention from Trump’s spate of gaffes last week and also from her own effort to turn the public’s attention to her qualifications for office and vision for the nation.
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right?” Clinton said to applause and laughter from supporters at the LGBT for Hillary fundraiser Friday night in New York.
The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.
And here is the part that the vast majority of media reports have failed to report:
But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroine, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.Context is everything.
Clinton’s comments have the advantage of actually being true. Donald Trump has left no doubt that he is a “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” in his shockingly offensive campaign. And Trump’s campaign is being managed by the alt-right white nationalists from Breitbart News.
The Washington Post’s conservative blogger, Jennifer Rubin, asks the right question: “Isn’t supporting a racist deplorable?“ ‘Deplorables’: Can the media ever get it right? “The story was straightforward, yet members of the media managed once more to show themselves flummoxed when conveying facts accurately and in context.”
Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, rightfully said that Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ characterization doesn’t merit an apology:
“She said, ‘Look, I’m generalizing here, but a lot of his support is coming from this odd place, that he’s given a platform to the alt-right and white nationalists,’” Kaine said in an interview with The Washington Post. “But then she went on to say, ‘Look, there’s also a number of his supporters that have economic anxieties, and we’ve got to speak to those.’”
Kaine said he didn’t think Clinton’s comments will hurt his ticket’s efforts to court Trump supporters who are willing to listen to their message “if it’s reported fairly that she kind of talked about both halves.”
Kaine must not be unfamiliar with the media’s “Clinton Rules” of reporting.
While not apologizing for her comments, Clinton released a statement:
Last night I was “grossly generalistic,” and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying “half” — that was wrong. But let’s be clear, what’s really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It’s deplorable that he’s attacked a federal judge for his “Mexican heritage,” bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American. So I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them. I’m determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are “stronger together.”
As Jennifer Rubin notes:
She never did any of the following:
- Call all Trump supporters racists.
- Fail to talk at length about the concerns of working people.
- Say “half” was wrong.
- Get the chance to restate many racists things Trump has said and his ties to the alt-right.
And yet the press managed to bungle, distort and out-and-out misrepresent the episode. Headlines and tweets announced she had called Trump supporters (without even mentioning “half”) racists. Nope. Other accounts left out entirely her remarks on the economically dislocated Americans for whom we should have empathy. There certainly is bias in many news outlets, but the problem here is either sloppiness, intentional hype to draw an audience or a severe reading comprehension issue. Then the media collectively seemed to decide this was a Clinton “gaffe.” It was nothing of the sort.
Let’s keep in mind that at various times polling has shown a third of Trump supporters oppose letting gays and lesbians into the country and approve of the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. In May, “The Public Policy Polling survey showed 59 percent of those who said they viewed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee favorably think [President] Obama was not born in the United States and only 13 percent believe he’s a Christian.” The birther nonsense — which Trump loudly and frequently embraced — certainly qualifies as a racist conspiracy designed to paint Obama as a foreigner and illegitimate.
And if you have not seen this video, you really should watch the Unfiltered Voices From Donald Trump’s Crowds from the The New York Times.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post has the appropriate response: Spare me the phony outrage over Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ remark:
But if there is one group of people who should take their outrage about Clinton’s comments and stuff it in a very dark place, it’s Trump and his paid apologists, who unloaded in a series of tweets this morning. Trump’s campaign even put out a statement claiming that Clinton “revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans.”
Oh, please. Two things can be true at the same time: First, Clinton overgeneralized about what’s in the hearts and minds of Trump supporters. Second, her underlying characterization of the general nature of many of Trump’s campaign appeals — and her related observation that they really are successfully playing on the baser instincts of an untold number of Trump’s supporters — are 100 percent accurate.
Every single reporter and commentator closely following this race knows full well that Trump’s campaign is fueled, at least to some degree, by tacit or even overt appeals to bigotry or efforts to encourage a sense among many Trump backers that white identity and white America are under siege. We’ve all seen the polling data and the reporting. Many Republican voters agree with the highest-profile Trump statements and items on the Trump agenda, the ones that are most prominently intertwined with those appeals and messages:
1) Poll after poll after poll has shown that majorities or pluralities of Republican voters support Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslims from entering the United States. When CNN and NBC News interviewed Trump supporters at a rally in South Carolina, they found a lot of support for the ban.
Is this “Islamophobia,” as Clinton suggests? Well, many leading Republicans and conservatives evidently think so. Paul Ryan denounced Trump’s Muslim ban as a “religious test” that is an affront to conservatism, and in so doing, he went out of his way to characterize Muslim-Americans as patriots and defenders of American freedom, which conservatives hailed as an act of great moral courage. Never-Trump conservative twitter widely denounced Trump’s attacks on the Khan family as naked bigotry.
2) Poll after poll has shown that majorities of Republican voters support mass deportations. Some polling has shown substantial overlap between Trump backers and support for mass deportations. One poll found that a large majority of GOP voters thought Trump was “basically right” in describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug haulers, while perhaps not agreeing with his exact language. And yes, in all of these cases, Democrats who believe these things are equally “deplorable.”
Trump himself has knowingly crafted obviously racist appeals as an entree into the consciousness of GOP primary voters. This is why he fashioned himself the world’s most famous birther. The New York Times recently reported that before running, Trump “recognized an opportunity” to exploit “discomfort” over the “first black president,” which he “harnessed” for “political gain,” using it to spark “his connection with the largely white Republican base.” Even GOP leaders have described some of Trump’s comments as racism: Ryan denounced his drawn out assault on a Mexican-American judge as the “textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Trump’s campaign CEO is Stephen Bannon, who has described himself as a creator of “the platform for the alt-right,” by which he means Breitbart, which one former Breitbart insider described as a “gathering place for white nationalism.” White nationalists themselves believe Trump’s elevation of Bannon heralds the displacement of the old GOP worldview with their own, and they hear a lot to like in Trump’s message. They feel as if Trump has “lifted them up,” as Clinton put it. So, yes, Trump’s campaign is functioning as a vehicle for mainstreaming fringe sentiments.
The American people know what Trump is doing. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that American voters say by 59-36 that “the way Trump talks appeals to bigotry.”
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[T]he underlying argument here — that Trump is running a bigoted campaign that tries to prey on legitimate grievances and bigotry alike by scapegoating minority groups — is inarguable, and the reality it identifies is far worse than Clinton’s broad-brush overreach was. If anything, “deplorable” is too mild a word for it.
For all those lazy reporters who are trying to make the false analogy that Clinton’s comments are comparable to Willard “Mittens” Romney’s 47 percent gaffe, it is not at all comparable. Romney could not support his false derogatory characterization with the facts. The facts here clearly support the truth that Clinton spoke. These are lousy reporters who, in a just world, would not be working as reporters.