Against Trump, the press is a particularly ineffective prosecutor, for the obvious reason that “mainstream media” enjoy so little legitimacy among his followers. Only 14 percent of Republicans express trust and confidence in the media, according to Gallup. The figure for independents, who also lean toward Trump, is 30 percent. In fact, sticking it to the “liberal” press is probably one of the things his backers enjoy most.
By and large, the American free press has performed its democratic function with respect to Donald Trump — and then some. Instead of carping about the alleged insufficiency of that vetting, the critics should be reflecting on its futility.
If I wanted to hear screaming tantrums because nobody was acting the way the tantrum-thrower wanted, I don’t need the Internet, guys. I can just leave the bedroom where I’m currently locked so that I can get 10 uninterrupted minutes of writing, and go into the living room where Kick is loudly expressing her opinion that she SHOULD be able to watch Happy Feet for the 6,000th time this weekend.
WAAAH, nobody is falling upon his/her sword in the face of our magnificent prose! Nobody is acting like we are the most important thing in this election! Nobody wants to resign because of our stories! Nobody cares what we do! Nobody listens! WAAAAH!
Like what did you expect? Donald Trump would FALL in the polls because you exposed him as a deranged, potentially felonious, irresponsible shithead? Were you not watching the hours and hours and hours of primaries the rest of us watched? Did you think the man or his voters had SHAME, or that you could give them the capacity to develop it? Honestly. That the GOP is capable of deploying a shit blizzard on command shouldn’t really be a shocking thing to anyone whose sense of history progressed beyond watching All the President’s Men and thinking Nixon resigned after the first break-in brief.
I got news for you, despairing reporters who labor mightily on a daily basis to expose the wrongdoing of public officials: Sometimes nobody gives a cold blue fuck.
Sometimes nobody listens. Sometimes you work for months and months to bring to light absolute debased corruption, and you agonize over every word of it, and you publish it thinking that finally everyone will know and someone will DO something, and the story lays there like a dead fish and everyone pretends they can’t smell it. Sometimes there’s only silence when you speak. Sometimes people throw rotten fruit.
Sometimes you put the facts out there and it makes absolutely no difference which can be immediately measured, no difference at all.
That’s not a sign you should stop putting the facts out there. That’s not a sign that it’s too hard and you should just go home. You not getting a parade isn’t a sign of anything other than you not getting a parade. Do I want every exposé to result in criminal politicians getting frog-marched into the Hague? Of COURSE I do. Do I think that if it doesn’t happen, they’re less criminal, or shouldn’t be exposed? FUCK NO.
Look, as journalists, as writers, you do what you do because if you didn’t you’d die. If you didn’t yell to the rooftops with the only voice you possess about the things you care about you would die in pieces, every single day. You go on TV and you read the comments and you start to think it’s about how the work is received, and it’s not. It’s not about how the work is taken. It’s about how you have to give it. And none of us is so important, so vital, that we can demand applause as our price.
I and plenty of other good writers spent the better part of the past decade arguing that George W. Bush was a son of a bitch who should roast in the hottest hell we have, and that he’s not even lukewarm makes us no less right. Being right isn’t money and it isn’t fame and it isn’t even a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, so it’s easy to overlook, unless your career, your every waking hour, your love and your blood, are about truth. Or so you tell yourselves when jawing on at the Internet’s unwashed about how you are the last true guardians of our democracy.
The press is a “particularly ineffective prosecutor?” Well, let’s all go home then. For shit’s sake. You draw a paycheck, if your immortal soul isn’t enough motivation for you. You are still in the chair, so you’ve got some more punishment in store. Unless you’re wrong, keep going. And if you’re right, and you know you’re right? Quit whining that nobody’s listening, because making people listen isn’t your job. Your job is to speak.