On Monday night, practically every single late-night host not only spoke about the Orlando shooting, but expressed frustration with America’s gun laws. Samantha Bee had the strongest take, but Trevor Noah really stepped up, Seth Meyers provided another insightful Closer Look, and Stephen Colbert showed flashes of his old self in mixing it up with Bill O’Reilly. The anti-gun stance of late-night hosts may not be all that surprising, but their ferocity in covering the issue may have the effect of increasing support for anti-assault weapons legislation (you wouldn’t know based on the strength of the NRA in Congress, but 55 percent of Americans actually support stricter gun laws).
The common sense of late-night hosts, however, is starting to filter into cable news, where journalists are beginning to express their own frustrations. The combination of another mass shooting and Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric is taking its toll, and the media is getting fed up. The Washington Post was “banned” by Trump from his campaign this week (adding to a growing number of outlets barred from Trump campaign events), and many in the media seem to have grown weary of Trump’s bullshit.
Of course, the media created this problem; now they have five months to fix it by calling the man out on his bullshit. Jake Tapper is one of the journos leading the way — a week ago, he made a fool of Trump by asking Trump if his comments on the federal judge in Indiana were racist — 23 times. He also jumped all over Trump for trying to tie Hillary Clinton to the death of Vince Foster, and for implying that Obama was involved in the Orlando shooting.
But it’s filtered into Fox News, as well, where Gretchen Carlson went “off script” yesterday, and called for a ban on assault weapons, a decidedly non-Fox News thing to do.
But perhaps no journalist has been more in-your-face than Anderson Cooper. The day after getting emotional while reading off the names of the lives lost in Orlando, Cooper went for the jugular when asking Florida AG Pam Bondi if she’s really a friend of the LGBT community in Florida.
More of this, please. The media needs to be pit bulls. They need to go after politicians and government officials, they need to go for the neck, and they shouldn’t let go until they get honest answers. That goes not just for Trump and the regular array of dipshit conservative politicians, but the Hillary and the liberal folks, as well. The media has let politicians dodge and deflect too long. If people running for office want the exposure that cable news and web outlets affords, they better learn how to answer a goddamn question.
The media may be learning from some of these high-profile news moments in recent weeks that there are even better ways to get ratings than by airing Donald Trump’s word salad. Calling politicians on their lies, exposing their hypocrisy, and climbing Bullshit Mountain is an even more useful ratings ploy.