Donald Trump thinks he will defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election by dredging up personal attacks on her and her marriage from the 1990s. But Hillary is ready for him—and the media who are salivating at the chance to revisit one of their greatest shames.
Trump now routinely says that he “hasn’t started on Hillary yet.” He has promised—or maybe a better word is threatened—to go after her in the most personal and unfair way: By treating her marriage as relevant fodder in a presidential campaign.
Trump, who already gets less negative coverage than Hillary, despite his relentless bigotry and abject lack of preparedness for the job he’s seeking, cannot defeat her without the assistance of a complicit media.
And even though their scandalized muckraking through the Clintons’ personal lives during the ’90s remains one of the greatest shames of US political journalism, they seem positively excited about the opportunity to do it all over again.
An MSNBC panel moderated by Andrea Mitchell exemplifies the disingenuous approach much of the corporate media will take in the general election. Rather than condemn Trump’s salacious determination to probe the Clintons’ personal histories, the panel essentially preemptively justifies their own future roles in this intimate plunder by discussing how he’s going to bring it up.
The media are fixing to play a very dishonest game. They aren’t actually required to indulge Trump’s indecency by giving it uncritical airtime. It is a choice—and there is still time to make the right one.
Hillary, who is certainly used to the media making the worst possible choices when it comes to covering her life and career, is ready no matter what may come.
During a recent interview with Anderson Cooper, in which he invoked Trump having made references to her marriage and husband, Hillary had a perfect response, demonstrating that she is well ready to take on whatever Trump may lob her way.
Cooper: He’s made references to your marriage, to your husband—
Hillary: [bursts out laughing] Well, he’s not the first one, Anderson! I just can’t say this often enough: If he wants to go back to the playbook of the 1990s, if he wants to follow in the footsteps of those who have tried to knock me down and take me out of the political arena, I’m more than happy to have him do that.
Cooper: You’re ready for that?
Hillary: Oh, please. I mean, look: This is to me a classic case of a blustering, bullying guy who has knocked out of the way all the Republicans, because they were just dumbfounded; they didn’t know how to deal with him and they couldn’t take him on on the issues, because they basically agreed with him. And they didn’t know to counterpunch—
Cooper: Do you think they waited too long?
Hillary: Ah, you’ll have to ask them. I can’t run their campaigns.
We cannot count on Trump to play fair, or even decently. And we cannot count on the media to refuse to align themselves with Trump by uncritically reporting his unfiltered garbage rhetoric.
But we can count on Hillary to be ready for it, and to treat it with the contempt it so richly deserves.
(Photo: Hillary for America)