Opinion

As Presidential Primaries Continue, Media Hysteria And Fear-Mongering Enter High Gear

“Likeable enough?” asks the condescending cover of Time magazine’s new issue. Inside, a piece profiling Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz tries ever so hard to puncture the balloon of the ascendant Cruz campaign. Despite Mr. Cruz’s resounding and poll-defying victory in the Wisconsin primary last week, Time offers an extended anti-Cruz argument.

The other Republican front-runner, businessman Donald Trump, fares no better with the Boston Globe’s editorial board. The Globe’s editors show dramatically how far the mainstream media has descended into fear-mongering and hysterics.

The Globe editorial presents an imagined Globe front page purporting to conjure “what might happen if the GOP front runner can put his ideas into practice,” cautioning readers against the “dangers of Trump’s vision” which of course the Globe finds “deeply troubling.”

“Deportations to begin”; “President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue”; “Markets sink as trade war looms”; “US soldiers refuse to kill ISIS families”; “New libel law targets ‘absolute scum’ in press.”

Give the Globe editors credit for innovation. They have adopted an editorial style that fancifully combines the late Senator Ted Kennedy with The Onion. Their dystopian futurism recalls Mr. Kennedy’s infamous character assassination of Judge Robert Bork immediately after his nomination to the Supreme Court, describing “Bob Bork’s America” in absurdly apocalyptic terms. They simultaneously combine this with the fake-news genre popularized by the leftist ad-hominem insult generator known as The Onion.

The mainstream media seek to defeat the two GOP front runners before the November election even takes place. The Time piece’s extreme slant is unmistakable.

Referring to Cruz as “the most hated Senator in Washington,” and highlighting a catalog of high-profile name-calling — “jackass,” “wacko bird,” “no friends” — Time barely attempts to conceal its anti-Cruz animus.

But Time is an equal-opportunity nastiness-disseminator, as long as the subjects are Republicans. The Time piece swipes at Trump too, alleging an “extraordinary and painful choice” that Republicans must make between Trump and Cruz, both of whom Time deems “flawed” and disliked.” No mention of Hillary Clinton’s own status as holder of “the number two most-negative position among non-incumbents seeking the presidency.”

Not content to attack the GOP contenders themselves, Time widens its criticism to the entire Republican party, oddly accusing the GOP process as being “not democratic” while failing to mention the Democrat party’s autocratic reliance on the super delegates that will all but assure Ms. Clinton’s nomination despite her own significant problems with likability, competence and trustworthiness.

With no pretense of analyzing Cruz’s surprising and unpredicted success in the nomination process, the Time piece credulously accepts as gospel the notion that an anti-Trump resurgence solely powered Cruz’s recent success.

The title — “Likeable Enough?” — alludes to then-candidate Barack Obama’s back-handed compliment of Hillary Clinton in 2008: “You’re likeable enough, Hillary, no doubt about it.” Rich with irony, the transparently false statement underscored Ms. Clinton’s cold-blooded ambition and lack of personal warmth. That, of course, goes unmentioned in the piece.

Time obsesses over Mr. Cruz’s gaining momentum and, with conspicuous exertion, generates a one-sided list of negatives, mostly of Mr. Cruz and partly of Mr. Trump. None of this surprises.

What we will never see from Time is an article laying out Ms. Clinton’s vulnerabilities in the format of an extended screed against her. (Space does not permit laying them out here.)

Nor will we see fake Globe front pages describing Bernie Sanders’ America: “Breadlines and Gas Lines cause more riots”; “Economists find 90% tax rate ushers in New Depression”; “Panama Papers show how Soros, Gates and Obama pay effective rate of 2 percent federal income tax”; “Communities complain of stench from single government-approved deodorant brand.”

Or a fake front page under “Hillary’s America”: “Kleptocracy grows like kudzu as Clinton Foundation overtakes federal government”; “Iran launches nuclear attack targeting Israel”; “Rapes, murders and home invasions rampant since right to bear arms overturned”; “Climate change deniers pilloried in stockade”; “Matt Drudge jailed for seditious speech opposing Clinton.”

The Time piece asks, “Can America learn to love Ted Cruz?” Instilled with a modicum of self-awareness, Time might have asked on behalf of itself, the Globe and media elite, “Can we learn to love balanced reporting?”  

“Such is the irresistible nature of truth,” Tom Paine observed, “that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.” If the writers of Time and the Globe keep this in mind, perhaps they could enhance the value and influence of their contributions to the fractious times in which we live.

If only.

Gayle Trotter is a political analyst, commentator and attorney.