Who knew it was this easy to make people forget that you’re a repeated perpetrator of sexual assault, a racist, serial misogynist, bully, and pathological liar?
In the aftermath of President Trump’s joint address to Congress Wednesday night, pundits and citizens alike seemed struck by a collective and dangerous amnesia. A CNN/ORC poll taken Tuesday night showed that 78 percent of those surveyed had a “positive response” to the speech, while 21 percent had a “negative response.”
Many in the media, who Trump has called the “enemy of the American people,” were quick to praise him, as if the past few years hadn’t happened. Some examples:
- On CNN, Van Jones said that when Trump recognized an emotional Carryn Owens, widow of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in the Yemen raid, “he became president of the United States in that moment, period.”
- Fox’s Chris Wallace agreed with Jones, saying that “tonight, Donald Trump became president of the United States.”
- CNN’s website, writing of Trump’s “statesmanlike cadence,” said that he “reached for poetry and conjured a vision of common national purpose.”
- Despite Trump’s divisive policies and low approval ratings, Politico was ready to speculate about him winning re-election in 2020.
- CNN media reporter Brian Stelter tweeted that “President Trump rose to the occasion & surprised people.”
Here’s the problem with all this: There is no reasonable way to look at Trump at that podium without considering the full context of his history. For the media, it should be much harder than this to have a positive response while watching a man who has shown no signs he is willing to or interested in changing his approach to governing the country. The media shouldn’t need reminding, but here’s a short refresher on who the man giving the speech last night really is:
- Trump bragged about sexually assaulting woman, then threatened to sue the scores of accusers who came forward during the campaign.
- He has been a terror to non-white Americans, and has given tacit permission to racists everywhere with his inflammatory language.
- He’s proposed building an absurd wall on the U.S./Mexican border.
- He spent years arguing that our first black president was from Kenya.
- He removed protections for trans youth that advocates feel will lead to increased risk of suicides.
- He demonized Muslims and is working to ban many of them from traveling to the U.S., issuing an executive order that’s led to innocent people being detained and harassed at airports.
- He has appointed anti-science conspiracy theorists to oversee the protections of our environment and the health of our citizens.
- He has appointed a known racist to enforce the laws of our land.
- He cast the news media as the “enemy of the American people,” just as the news media began to make earnest inquiries into his ties to Russia.
- Trump reportedly welcomed 46 governors and their “wives” to Washington on Sunday, despite the fact that four women governors were in attendance.
- He broke with populist campaign rhetoric by appointing several Goldman Sachs veterans, including the racist ideologue Steve Bannon, to his administration.
- He empowered Bannon and the white nationalism he represents.
As The Washington Post’s Robert Costa tweeted Wednesday morning, “Some sources in WH are frankly surprised at how pundits are warming to the speech. Say Trump has not changed, no big shift in policy coming.”
Exactly. Trump doesn’t deserve — and hasn’t earned — any credit for his speech to congress. A 70-year-old bigot did not change in one night.