How can we fight white nationalist terror when press won't even call Trump racist?

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In order for America to forcefully fight the unfolding terror wave hitting this country, it's time for the press to talk about radicalized, homegrown right-wing sleeper cells in the U.S. It's also past time for the media to accurately label Trump as a racist, and to shine a spotlight on the obvious role his rhetoric is playing in unleashing the recent gun violence.

The press needs to get past its timid, self-imposed guidelines that say calling Trump “racist” is somehow partisan or unprofessional. He currently stands at the fulcrum of a hate movement as he constantly spouts divisive rhetoric, likening blacks to rodents and immigrants to violent trespassers—all while the body count grows.

Let's be perfectly clear about what's happening in America: We've gone from a nation afflicted with gun rampages, to a nation that's becoming specifically afflicted with white nationalist gun rampages. Somehow our mindless mass shooting epidemic just got worse, because now it's often wrapped in the deadly cloak of domestic terrorism. Yet much of the press remains wedded to its previous, 9/11-era approach to terrorism coverage, where jihadists essentially defined terrorism in this country. The deadly 9/11 attack was 18 years ago. The surging terror threats facing this country have completely changed. So, too, should the press coverage—and that should start with Trump and the danger he poses with his openly racist rhetoric.  

But journalists too often look away, insisting they can't tell where Trump stands on the battle against violent racists, and reporters ignore the fact that Trump has been completely clear about his allegiance. Again and again, Trump tells us who he is, and journalists pretend they can’t quite figure him out. “Members of the press, what the fuck?” asked an exasperated Beto O'Rourke in the wake of the El Paso massacre. “It's these questions you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what [Trump's] been doing in this country. He's promoting racism.”

This is the core of who Trump is. It's the core of what Tucker Carlson and so many Fox News hosts have become under the umbrella of “conservative media.” It's ugly, tribal, and unapologetic racism that is absolutely fueling parts of the conservative movement in America today, to the point where there is now a violent, active wing waging war against this country. And it scares the press. It scares the press because journalists don't want to be put in the position of speaking truth to power in terms of labeling Trump a menace to this country.

  • August 5, 2019