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All That Trump Anxiety You Are Feeling? The News Media Feeds On It

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 12, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | November 12, 2020 |


There’s no real theme in this morning’s political post — just some random news bits. First off, I hope you all are feeling at least slightly better about the transition eventually taking place. The more Joe Biden operates as normal, the better I feel. Yesterday, he hired his Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, who the pundits are all saying is a great choice, notwithstanding that terrible name. If you want to know a lot more about his work in the Obama Administration (where he ran point on the Ebola outbreak), click on this tweet and follow the thread:

Meanwhile, the popular vote lead for Biden has moved over 5 million, and the odds of Trump catching up in the Electoral College based on recounts and litigation is virtually zero, especially as his law firm quit on him in Arizona yesterday and the lawsuits he is filing are flimsy as hell. That leaves subverting Democracy as his only play, and if you need anymore comfort on that front, here’s a great piece that explains — again — that state legislatures legally cannot overrule the will of the people:

It’s unfortunate that any of this needs to be said. No American official - no one holding public office in a nation dedicated to the rule of law - should ever consider themselves even theoretically empowered to rescind the inalienable sovereignty of the people. Fortunately, our Constitution and our laws are designed to restrain the worst impulses of partisan actors. State legislatures have no power to veto their own citizens’ votes for president.

Meanwhile, “anonymous sources” keep telling us this is “theater,” although it’d be nice for a lot of folks if these “anonymous sources” would go on the record (they are almost certainly people like Jared Kushner or Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, two people that love to be quoted anonymously):

Elsewhere, the WashPo got this anonymous quote: “Asked about Trump’s ultimate plan, one senior administration official chuckled and said, ‘You’re giving everybody way too much credit right now.’”

Trump apparently also keeps telling aides that he will run again in 2024, and he has told friends that he wants to start a digital media operation that will clobber Fox News (ha!). I actually would love to see him try, if only because 1) Rupert Murdoch will kick his ass, and 2) they will cannibalize the hell out of each other (at the moment, the competitive advantage that Fox News has over CNN and MSNBC is that it is the only real conservative network in town, so it gets 45 percent of viewers, while CNN and MSNBC split the rest).

There’s a lot of understandable fear and anxiety around this, but there is no small part of this that is not just “theater” for the President, it is “theater” for the media. I don’t want to sound too cynical, but the media has long had a habit of entertaining incredibly remote possibilities and blowing them way out of proportion. The alarmism is sometimes helpful — the “Storm of the Century” coverage! probably helps encourage folks to evacuate — but sometimes it’s just how they keep us glued to their coverage. As a small example: How many times did we hear John King and Steve Kornacki go through a scenario in which there was a 269-269 tie in the Electoral College? How possible is that really? And yet, the media often seemed to give that possibility equal weight to other scenarios. And then someone else would spend 10 minutes or write 1,000 words on how unlikely that possibility is. How else do you think we generate content? We throw out implausible possibilities, and then we debate them to death! And then get all worked up, and then we write posts about how you should not get worked up.

The media is the worst, and it feeds on the very anxiety it helps to produce.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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