I'm in the process of putting together a blog post on how our local "newspapers" are covering the Trump administration. However, this morning's Wheeling Intelligencer editorial, "Media Not All Biased," has temporarily placed that post on a back burner.
The editorial begins:
One can hardly blame many Americans for their refusal to trust the news media, given the hysterical tone taken by some in major news outlets.
Take the MSNBC television network. Not long after President Donald Trump made his inaugural speech on Friday, MCNBC star Chris Matthews took to the air. He pronounced the president’s remarks to be “Hitlerian.”
What prompted Matthews to say that? Trump’s promise to make “America first.”
That would be my guess although I think the Intelligencer is playing naïve -- pretending that "America first" is just some Trump campaign phrase rather than something with deep historical roots. If you are unfamiliar with the historical "America First" movement, Google it or check out some of the writers responding to Trump's speech who have also written about it. Here, for example, is historian Eric Rauchway in the Washington Post:
Trump isn’t quite promising “America über alles,” but it comes close. “America First” was the motto of Nazi-friendly Americans in the 1930s, and Trump has more than just a catchphrase in common with them. When he began using the phrase last year during the campaign, the Anti-Defamation League had asked him to stop.
Trump wants his exclusionary America to cower behind walls. He will erect metaphorical barriers against immigrants (excluding Muslims from entry to the United States until they can be “properly and perfectly” screened) and trade. And of course, he will build a literal wall along the Mexican border. None of which is to say Trump’s isolated America will decline to fight wars: Trump says he will increase bombing of the Middle East and fight “fast and … furious for a short period of time” against the terrorist enemy.
This is what Trump’s “America First” means: A white America (committed, to be sure, to “take care of our African American people”), living behind higher walls and screens, lashing out to prove its strength and then retreating again — not a government suspiciously tolerant of foreign threats.
And this is also largely what “America First” has historically meant.
(Similarly, see Krishnadev Calamur writing in The Atlantic.)
So Chris Matthews wasn't making an out-of-nowhere Hitler comparison.
But the editorial doesn't stop there; it then becomes an excuse to once again tell us how "fair and accurate" the Intelligencer is:
What Americans need to remember is this: Ultra-liberal fanatics are but a tiny minority in the news business. Here at this newspaper — and at most others — we try hard to be fair and accurate, regardless of how we feel about those we cover. It is a shame, nevertheless, that a few like Matthews have forgotten the meaning of journalism.
"Fair and accurate" toward Hillary Clinton or President Obama? Are you kidding me? When? It would seem that our local newspapers never knew "the meaning of journalism" when it came to Clinton or Obama.
On the national level, I remembered a number of Obama/Hitler comparisons in the last eight years and, not surprisingly, they were not hard to find online. For, example, Media Matters documented with links a number of them in 2013:
Former Fox host Glenn Beck immersed himself in odious Hitler rhetoric during Obama's first years in office, while the then-burgeoning Tea Party movement did the same. And so did Rush Limbaugh, who obsessed over Obama-Nazi comparisons in 2009: "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate." Limbaugh thought it was "fabulous and fantastic and hilarious that a women shows up at a Barney Frank town hall meeting with an Obama-as-Hitler poster and the Nazi stuff."
. . . . More recently, then-Fox News contributor Dr. Ben Carson claimed America is "very much like Nazi Germany" in that it has a government "using its tools to intimidate the population."
(See also Salon two years ago: "7 conservatives who have compared Obama to Hitler.")
I've searched and googled our local "newspapers" to see if there was any criticism of those who connected Obama with Hitler and Nazism. I could not find any -- what a surprise.
Back to the blog post I'm working on: how will they cover Trump? Yes, " hypocritically" definitely needs to be a category.