To the Media: Do Your Damn Job

28 Nov

As you might have noticed, I am not usually someone who has a hard time coming up with things to say. Generally I am chock-full of opinions about all sorts of different things. But right now, I am simply at a loss. I really am. I feel like I went to sleep one night in a world that, though confusing, was something I was capable of working within and woke up the next morning here. In a place that makes absolutely no sense. It’s like, seriously, what the fuck is going on?!

I thought that perhaps by this point in time I would have backed away from my initial response to the election. The response that, if I had to sum it up for you, went as follows:

If you voted for Trump: fuck you.

But the thing is, the farther and farther I get from around 9:00pm on November 8th when I started crying because The Times had called  a Trump win, the more and more I double down on that sentiment. But now I would like to go ahead and actually extend that feeling of disdain beyond the confines I initially laid out for it. I would like to reach out to the media, not everyone, certainly not Charles M. Blow who is absolutely killing it, and say a big, hearty fuck you to them as well. Why? Well, I’ll tell you.

The media has a responsibility. It has a responsibility to report on the actual things that are happening out in this country and in the world. Do you know what it does not have the responsibility to do? It does not have the responsibility to normalize Donald Trump and his supports. And yet that is exactly what so much of the media has been doing since the day the sky fell down. Let me tell you a little story. Last week my friend Jessy and I were sitting in Chattanooga, Tennessee at a small restaurant downtown eating some dinner and drinking some wine. CNN was on the TV. CNN, the network that, by the way, Donald Trump called the Clinton News Network throughout his campaign. It was the night after Richard Spencer held that horrible conference in Washington, DC. So there we were, sitting, eating, trying to have a conversation about something other than the fear and disbelief that have been a mainstay in our lives since the election, when on the television screen came a video full of white nationalists giving the Hitler salute in the name of the President-elect of our country. And CNN called them the “alt-right,” a name coined by Richard Spencer himself to try and mask the true message of bigotry and racism promoted by the movement he now leads.  I was horrified but CNN, it seemed, was not so much. And it kind of led me to ask myself the following question:

Who the hell is the media trying to protect?

And then, quickly, I came to the answer:

Itself.

And I understand, we all have a job to do. My job is to serve people drinks and to write about what I see and understand of the world around me. I do the latter here, where I am not accountable to anyone but myself and my readers. It is also a relatively safe space because no one has found me yet in my small corner of the Internet. I have not been the recipient of death or rape threats, have not been sent hundreds of anti-semitic memes. I am my own editor. And the thing that’s crazy is that that sort of abuse, unfortunately, seems to come with being relevant. (I can’t imagine what Charles M. Blow and other brave journalists out there doing their jobs are enduring these days.) In ways, I won’t feel as though this blog is very successful until I have a few vile haters. And I hope that if that ever happens, I have the strength and courage to double down on my beliefs and communicate them with even more gusto. I guess I won’t know until that day comes. If it does. All that being said, it is my responsibility, it is all of our responsibility, to talk about what we see, what we experience, and what we understand. It is not our responsibility, and it is certainly not the media’s responsibility, to try and justify our current situation in order to not ruffle feathers.

In fact, ruffling feathers is sort of part of the point. It is what helps to keep tyrants out of The White House.

Anyway back to my story. I sat at the bar with Jessy and I totally and completely lost my shit as I told her that never, never in my lifetime did I expect to look up at a television screen and see the Nazi salute on any station other than the History Channel. But clearly we are at a horrible place. And then, about 15 repeats of the clip later, CNN changed to a new topic: Hamilton. And I watched as a white man took the screen and lectured a female reporter on just how rude the cast of Hamilton was to Mike Pence. And I watched as she chose not to take the path of most resistance and defend them, but instead she agreed that, yes, they were very rude and yes, they were out of line, but maybe Donald Trump and Mike Pence stand for some problematic policies? Maybe?

Maybe?!

We just watched the Nazi fucking salute like 15 seconds ago, lady! And you know what, the cast of Hamilton wasn’t rude: they were fucking afraid. They are afraid like so many of us are. And they, unlike so many, used the platform that they worked so hard to gain in order to communicate their fears in quite possibly the most straight-forward and polite way possible. They simply asked Mike Pence to look, to listen, to try and understand and maybe, just maybe, to humanize them a little bit. That is what free speech and artistic expression and the goddamn Constitution is all about.

So I guess I lied at the beginning: I do have a lot to say. But I guess what it all boils down to is this:

We are not somewhere new. We are somewhere old and horrible. We are somewhere that humanity has been before and it is about time we have the courage to call this what it is. We have the President-elect asking for the registration of Muslims. We have groups that used to be fringe but seem to be moving more and more into the mainstream calling for the release of phone numbers and addresses of teachers who they deem un-American. And we have a media who is so afraid of doing its goddamn job that it allows Donald Trump’s childish Twitter account to bury every news story of any value. Remember that Times article from Hitler’s rise where they said that Hitler wasn’t actually a threat? Where they said that he didn’t really mean all the things he was saying? Does that sound familiar? Because it should. Maybe the Times is calling a spade a spade this time, more or less, but a lot of other outlets are not. We have been here before. We have the power to impact the outcome.

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