Greenwald Explains What Out-of-Touch Media Doesn't Get About Trump, Russia, and US Electorate
'People have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can't imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo'
Donald Trump poses "extreme dangers" to the United States and the world, journalist and co-founding editor of The Intercept Glenn Greenwald says in a new interview published at Slate.
But to stop the GOP presidential nominee from getting elected, "U.S. media and U.S. elites" must take a lesson from the recent Brexit debacle, he warns—and bending over backwards to link Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't the right approach.
"U.K. elites were uniform, uniform, in their contempt for the Brexit case, other than the right-wing Murdochian tabloids," Greenwald told Slate contributor Isaac Chotiner by phone.
"They all sat on Twitter all day long, from the left to the right, and all reinforced each other about how smart and how sophisticated they were in scorning and [being snide] about [U.K. Independent party] and Boris Johnson and all of the Brexit leaders, and they were convinced that they had made their case," he said. "Everyone they were talking to—which is themselves—agreed with them. It was constant reinforcement, and anyone who raised even a peep of dissent or questioned the claims they were making was instantly castigated as somebody who was endangering the future of the U.K. because they were endorsing—or at least impeding—the effort to stop Brexit. This is what's happening now."
Do you think the people voting for Donald Trump because they feel their economic future has been destroyed, or because they are racist, or because they feel fear of immigrants and hate the U.S. elite structure and want Trump to go and blow it up, give the slightest shit about Ukraine, that Trump is some kind of agent of Putin? They don't! Just like the Brexit supporters. The U.K. media tried the same thing, telling the Brexit advocates that they were playing into Putin’s hands, that Putin wanted the U.K. out of the EU to weaken both. They didn't care about that. That didn't drive them.
He cautioned pundits and the political elite against harboring a limited perspective about Trump supporters and their beliefs:
One of the things that is bothering me and bothered me about the Brexit debate, and is bothering me a huge about the Trump debate, is that there is zero elite reckoning with their own responsibility in creating the situation that led to both Brexit and Trump and then the broader collapse of elite authority. The reason why Brexit resonated and Trump resonated isn’t that people are too stupid to understand the arguments. The reason they resonated is that people have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can't imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo. You have this huge portion of the populace in both the U.K. and the U.S. that is so angry and so helpless that they view exploding things without any idea of what the resulting debris is going to be to be preferable to having things continue, and the people they view as having done this to them to continue in power. That is a really serious and dangerous and not completely invalid perception that a lot of people who spend their days scorning Trump and his supporters or Brexit played a great deal in creating.
Filmmaker Michael Moore floated a similar argument last week, when he (apologetically) predicted that Trump will beat Hillary Clinton in November.
"I live in Michigan," he said in an interview. "Let me tell you, it's going to be the Brexit strategy."
"I think one of the things I've been concerned about this week is...that we're sitting in our bubble having a good laugh at this shitshow, as you say, of a [Republican National Convention], but the truth is that this plays to a lot of people that he has to win to become the next president," Moore explained at the time. "The population of schools has been wrecked, and the news media is just insipid and stupid and doesn't give the people the facts about what's going on."
Meanwhile, Greenwald denounced hysteria around Trump's relationship with Russia in general and specifically the billionaire's call on Wednesday for Russia to find Clinton's "missing" emails. "[T]he history of linking your political opponents to Russia is a really dangerous and ugly one in the U.S.," Greenwald said.
This echoes a charge leveled Wednesday by editors of The Nation, who wrote that "[i]n their zeal to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president—a goal we share—representative voices of the liberal establishment have joined with the forces of neoconservatism to engage in what can only be described as McCarthyist rhetoric."