The media have long had it in for Hillary Clinton. They’ve shown a demonstrable pattern of formulating negative narratives in an attempt to derail her campaign. And they’re very restless with a race that she looks so capable of winning. We need to be prepared for what will come if Donald is pushed out of the race, because it won’t be pretty.
I was thrilled to see how outstanding Hillary’s campaign rollout was for a number of reasons, not least of which is this: There is a very real chance that Donald will not be the Republican nominee on Election Day.
Nothing in her political career has ever been handed to Hillary; she’s always had to fight for it – and she’s had to fight harder than the average politician, by virtue of the uniquely personal animosity for her expressed by large swaths of the traditional media.
Whatever she’s doing is portrayed as wrong. Consider this history: In 2008, Hillary announced her candidacy following an enormous number of pieces in the media about how she must run and end our long national nightmare of Republican governance. And, while she was at it, make history as the first female president. Right after she announced, then came the articles about how she felt entitled to the presidency, that she expected to be “coronated,” that she was part of a dynasty and needed to go away. Within months, there was enormous pressure for Hillary to drop out of the Democratic Primary, even when she still had a decent chance of winning the nomination.
Then, literally immediately after President Obama’s reelection in 2012, the media took to writing pieces about Hillary running in 2016. By January of 2013, the media’s pressure campaign was already so intense that President Obama was prompted to say, during a joint interview with Hillary: “You know, Steve, I gotta tell you, the — you guys in the press are incorrigible. I was literally inaugurated [looks at watch] four days ago. And you’re talking about elections four years from now.”
By 2013, fully three years before this election, the media were still pressuring Hillary to run, but that pressure had taken on an edge. Hillary was a liar for claiming she hadn’t made up her mind about whether to run, and she was a selfish monster if she chose not to run. Stories were run quoting anonymous Democratic operatives who said stuff like this:
“We would be at sea in a lifeboat with no food, no water, and no land in sight,’ said one veteran Democratic operative who has worked on presidential campaigns, and who, like most people interviewed for this story, asked for anonymity to speak candidly about the former first lady. ‘There is no Plan B.’ It would be, the operative said, a ‘gut punch’ to the Democratic party.”
But they didn’t really want her stopped. They wanted her to run, and to run quickly. So we got pieces saying she had a moral obligation to run, and that she should “stop dithering.” She had to run, and do it fast, or else she’d be letting down her party – and the nation.
So, she ran. And she started with a listening tour, which naturally was all wrong, too.
And – wouldn’t you know it! – the same political commentators who months earlier had been berating her for not running were now back to regurgitating the shopworn narratives that she was “entitled” and viewed herself as “inevitable,” even as she crisscrossed the country telling people she was fighting for every vote.
Now, Hillary is winning. She won the Democratic nomination and she is dominating Donald in general election polls. And that, too, is wrong. Because the media regard everything she does to be wrong. Hillary isn’t supposed to win, and she especially isn’t supposed to win easily.
(Even when she won, it felt like a loss. Had she lost, that definitely would have been wrong, too. )
But Hillary hasn’t given them much to criticize. And her opponent is an unmitigated disaster. So now the same media who “utterly caved” to Donald during the primary are starting to give him some bad press. (But not as much as Hillary!) Because their best hope is facilitating the ouster of Donald by his own party – and a replacement candidate who has a chance of defeating her.
In the meantime, some members of the media are happy to offer Donald a little free advice:
What would happen if Trump picked a popular, qualified vp, started talking only abt need to change DC, middle class, Hillary=status quo?
— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) June 19, 2016
But the endgame is to get Donald outta there. Because what a truly glorious day it would be for the media to be able to embrace a new Republican opponent as the savior of his party – to not only have a viable opponent to assist in defeating Hillary, but to be able to call him a hero.
That the Republican leadership will find a way to give Donald the boot and install a “moderate” replacement – someone with the same ugly policies but willing to use a dog whistle instead of a bullhorn – is not outside the realm of possibility. And the media are angling for it to happen.
They are doing what they can now to facilitate Donald’s demise, and they are salivating in anticipation of the opportunity to give a hero’s welcome to whichever Mitt Romney or John Kasich is given the desirable slot.
If it comes to pass, as I fear it may, it will be an enormous hurdle for Hillary. Fortunately, she is a champion hurdler, and her team is already running her general election campaign as though she’s running against someone who won’t defeat himself.
Our job is to be aware of what’s happening, so we can be ready for major pushback if the worst happens.