I wanted to share an observation about the coverage of last night’s primary election results that I watched on MSNBC. Obviously the big news was the numbers themselves, the decisive wins for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But a close second was their victory speeches. The contrast couldn’t have been greater.
Clinton gave the kind of address you would expect from her, or really from almost any candidate in her position. It was well constructed and delivered (and if not rhetorically sweeping, punctuated with good lines): tactically gracious to Sanders; focused on her positions on the issues that matter to different voting groups in the Democratic coalition; and with all her fire directed at the GOP as befitting a candidate who has all but locked up the nomination.
Trump was…off his narcissism meds. 80-90 percent of his obviously off-the-cuff remarks were about him, his unbelievable victories, the foolishness of all those pundits and establishment types who doubted him, how smart he is, how good he is at math, etc. Instead of trying to woo the supporters of his two remaining rivals he insulted those rivals in his alpha male way. And I could not keep up with the firehose of lies–he made billions of dollars in deals with the Chinese?
Based on my Twitter feed plenty of people saw and understood what happened. Yet–and here’s my point–the on-air talent at MSNBC barely recognized, at least directly, this reality. Instead, they plunged into an insider-y discussion about how Trump’s speech proves that Corey “Let Trump be Trump” LewandowskI has edged out Paul Manafort and about what Trump’s references to next week’s contest in Indiana say about his strategy for winning 1275 delegates. Important subjects to discuss, of course, but the studious avoidance of the insanity we’d all just witnessed was like churchgoers at coffee hour discussing the homily without mentioning that the priest delivered it buck naked.
If it were, say, CNN, or one of the networks, where the executives rightly worry about alienating conservative viewers, I could understand it. But this was frikkin liberal-left MSNBC–Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Eugene Robinson and the rest. Maybe it’s the presence of the value-neutral Brian Williams as co-anchor, or the fact that they’ve been at this for months and are becoming house-blind to Trump’s freakishness, I don’t know. But while I very much appreciate the intelligence and professionalism of the MSNBC crew, and generally find their analysis on nights like these to be more penetrating and informative than what their CNN rivals deliver, I just found it weird that none of them thought it necessary to even note, much less discuss–though you could tell they were thinking it–the ocean-wide difference between how the two front-runners behaved in this crucial moment, how one of them is clearly a frightening lunatic, and what that means for the country.