The New York Times editorial board took aim at Donald Trump‘s recent string of “racist lies” with comparisons to Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace, two American politicians whose careers history has not been kind to.
The piece quickly attacks Trump, noting that he “has distinguished himself as fastest to dive to the bottom. If it’s a lie too vile to utter aloud, count on Mr. Trump to say it, often. It wins him airtime, and retweets through the roof.”
Quick characterization aside, the NYT is quick to point out that “this phenomenon is in fact nothing new. Politicians targeting minorities, foreigners or women have always existed in the culture. And every generation or so, at least one demagogue surfaces to fan those flames.”
The Republican presidential candidate-as-demagogue isn’t that surprising of a description of Trump, who has said (and repeated) several outlandish, false and attention-grabbing lines throughout his campaign. From waterboarding and cheers on 9/11, to beating on protesters and a Muslim database, no subject is safe from the Donald. Hence the NYT‘s brief comparisons of two of Trump’s greatest hits to quotes from McCarthy and Wallace.
Trump’s recent comments on Syrian refugees bore a striking resemblance to Republican Wisconsin Sen. McCarthy’s infamous “Red Scare” communist witch hunt, which channeled the country’s Cold War angst during the ’50s. As for the New York real estate mogul’s remarks on fighting against change, Democratic Alabama Gov. Wallace’s general language in support of pro-segregation rings a bell.
So what’s the point, then? Does the NYT want Trump to get less airtime? (Not going to happen.) Do they want everyone to ignore him? (Also not going to happen.)
No, they simply want networks, anchors and journalists to stand up to the candidate, given that several major broadcast and cable channels recently banded together to push back against Trump’s media demands and press restrictions.
“This isn’t about shutting off Mr. Trump’s bullhorn. His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution, but the public doesn’t need to swallow it. History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It’s no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it’s an important one.”
This isn’t the first time the NYT editorial board has taken Trump and his presidential campaign to task. Following the CNN Republican Debate in September, they characterized the entire broadcast — and Trump especially — as “crazy talk.”
[h/t New York Times]
[Image via screengrab/Wikimedia Commons]
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