Yes, The New York Times is the newspaper of the Establishment and reflexively accepts almost anything that the powers-that-be say is true, but Donald Trump undercuts that valid critique when he spins a conspiracy theory about the Times plotting with women who simply confirm what Trump has said about his own sexual predations.
It wasn’t a couple of women who announced Trump’s compulsion to kiss and grope women and rely on his wealth and star power to keep them silent. It was Trump in his “locker room talk” with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005:
“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
And, it wasn’t Miss Arizona and a few other beauty pageant contestants who described Trump’s creepy interest in ogling naked teen-age girls in backstage dressing rooms. It was Trump in a radio show with shock jock Howard Stern.
“I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed,” Trump told Stern in recordings of Stern’s show. “No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. … ‘Is everyone OK’? You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”
In other words, Trump does a disservice to anyone who seeks to analyze the actual interplay between the mainstream U.S. media and the politically powerful when he exploits that serious concern by using it to cover up his own unconscionable behavior.
“I take all of these slings and arrows gladly, for you,” Trump told a cheering crowd in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday. “I take them for our movement, so that we can have our country back. Our great civilization here in America and across the civilized world has come upon a moment of reckoning.”
Yet, Trump is not some innocent martyr for the cause. The simple and obvious truth is that he did what he bluntly described himself doing, forcing himself on unsuspecting women and satisfying his prurient interest in seeing naked women, even girls as young as 15.
That he is now attacking the honesty of women who simply confirm what he himself has said about his own behavior is truly bizarre. His recent assertion that his self-admissions were not to be taken seriously – and that thus the confirmations of his own words by a variety of women coming forward – must be false stands as one of the most audacious lies ever told in U.S. politics, which is saying something.
This is not a “he said/she said” situation. It is a moment in which “he” confessed to the actions that “she” – or in this case, multiple she’s – is confirming, except now the “he” says he was lying when he made his un-coerced confessions and thus the confirmations must also be a lie.
Spinning a Conspiracy Theory
As bad as that is, Trump has made matters worse by wrapping his self-contradictions about his own actions in the web of a global conspiracy. That means his cover-up also discredits the valid concerns about the real coordination of policies by the wealthy and the political/media elites. Trump’s conspiracy theory is like many other conspiracy theories that divert attention from some genuine wrongdoing by postulating an absurd alternative reality that is easily disproved.
In this case, Trump enables the Times, which does deserve criticism for a long pattern of falling in line behind the falsehoods of the Establishment, to now wrap itself in the cloak of courageous journalism reporting facts that Americans need to know to function as informed citizens in a democracy. With his preposterous threat to sue the Times, Trump gives the Times unearned credibility as the protector of the public interest.
Trump further undermines his generally accurate contention that the powers-that-be are enriching themselves at the expense of regular people when he surrounds that important point with various right-wing nostrums about slashing taxes on the rich and wiping away regulations that somewhat constrain the actions of big banks and big corporations.
How it follows that the way to rein in the abuses of the powerful is to give them more money and freedom to do whatever they want is never explained in Trump’s “populist” appeals.
To say that Trump is a flawed messenger for a reasonably valid message about the elites having little concern about the suffering of the commoners is a gross understatement. He is the personification of a rich and powerful individual exercising dominion over vulnerable people who can’t fight back. He is, in a word, a phony. And, if you wanted to add another word, he is a demagogic phony.
It is a sad predicament that people who want desperately to challenge the unbridled, corrupt and dangerous power of the global elites find themselves stuck with Donald Trump as their avatar, a person who was happy to hobnob with those elites and share their grotesque control over “lesser” people until he suddenly found “populism” as the way to accumulate even more power.