Former president Donald Trump held a political rally in nearby Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday. Rather than ignoring the rally, today’s Wheeling Intelligencer used the story filed by a reporter from Ogden’s Youngstown Vindicator, David Skolnick. Skolnik’s coverage of Trump’s is balanced; it provides some of what Trump and Republican senate candidate J.D. Vance said as well as the responses by Vance’s Democratic opponent, Tim Ryan. Skolnik also does some fact checking; for example, he contrasts Trump’s bragging about crowd size with a description of the empty seats at the back of the arena.
Skolnik did not cover, however, some of Trump’s more outrageous and demeaning statements. (J.D. Vance "is kissing my ass.") But much more important than Trump’s personal attacks, Skolnik failed to cover the scariest moment from the rally:
Or as Steve Schmidt explained:
(By the way, this week’s fascism was not just confined to Ohio.*)
It seems to me that the coverage of Trump's speech should not just be confined to the simple reporting of both sides; we need an assessment of what is going on beyond what Trump said or didn’t say. Thankfully, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Will Bunch (among others) provided some context and analysis to Trump’s Youngstown speech:
From Bunch’s article:
Some might like to pretend that this is strictly a “Donald Trump problem,” a would-be felon desperate to save his own skin. But the reality is that this fascistic virus has infected most of the Republican Party, on the eve of a midterm election where the American Experiment itself is up for grabs.
(An infection? You don’t need to leave West Virginia to see it.)
As I awoke Sunday morning to the predictable shock and awe over Trump’s newest outrage, a song got stuck in my head. Not “Wwa1wga” or “Mirrors” or whatever the heck that was behind Trump, but the one that Bruce Springsteen released back in 1995, when the rust-bitten smokestacks of the Mahoning Valley were beginning to tumble. In “Youngstown,” The Boss sang of the bitter disillusionment of veterans who fought for America in World War II and Vietnam only to lose the war for prosperity at home.
Left unsaid by Springsteen was how these resentments, when allowed to fester, can and will be exploited by the very worst people — the hucksters and con men using you to save themselves and probably make a buck, as with the gold coin ads that now flash on TV telecasts of Trump rallies. What transpired Saturday was a culmination of an American nightmare. It can’t happen here? It just did. Here in Youngstown.
Ogden’s reporter is not alone in ignoring the larger picture -- this type of facile coverage is the rule and not the exception. It leads me to wonder: if by attempting to be fair and balanced, are the media actually normalizing the growth of fascism?
*The fascists were not just in Youngstown this past weekend. Here is the Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee, Doug Mastriano, leading the Christian fascists at his own rally: