No it’s not, but then again, neither is Donald Trump. Almost from the moment that a series of bomb threats began appearing, the national pastime shifted from baseball pitching to blame-throwing. Not only did people flood social media, and in some cases broadband media, with their pet theories about the bomber, they also cast a wide net for responsibility for his/her insanity.
The president himself got into the act on … well, you know where:
That got dander up at CNN, which had to deal with its own bomb scare yesterday:
CNN's @JohnBerman responds to Pres. Trump attacking the media as the NYPD investigates another suspicious package: "Let me tell you what the mainstream media has been doing this morning: We've been reporting on" a new suspicious package "sent to either kill, threaten, or scare" pic.twitter.com/R4wK9MGVtg
— New Day (@NewDay) October 25, 2018
The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker blames Trump this morning for the terrorist attacks on Democrats and the media:
In the home stretch of the fall campaign, President Trump has called Democrats “evil” and argued they are “too dangerous to govern.” He has denounced Barack Obama’s presidency and demonized former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, inspiring chants of “Lock her up!” at his rallies.
The president has also used his bully pulpit to taunt Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) as a “low I.Q. individual,” impugn former CIA director John Brennan and fan conspiracy theories about liberal philanthropist George Soros. And he has called the news media “the enemy of the people,” singling out CNN’s reporting as “fake news.”
This week, these targets of Trump’s rhetoric became the intended targets of actual violence in the form of pipe bombs, many of which turned up Wednesday.
That’s curious, because another national-platform newspaper started off the week publishing a fantasy about assassinating Trump. Would the New York Times have culpability if someone took a shot at the president this week? By Rucker’s reckoning, yes. And what Rucker fails to include in this opener is that this has been bidirectional, especially with Waters, who repeatedly encouraged her supporters to intimidate her political opponents when in public.
But none of this “causes” terrorism, bomb threats, and assassinations, no matter how much each side wants to blame the other for it in order to discredit them. Ladies and gentlemen, this way lies madness. And worse yet, this way lies the end to free speech.
Donald Trump did not invent contempt for the press, not even in the White House. Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were just as openly contemptuous of the media’s “nattering nabobs of negativism” during a time of much greater social upheaval and violence. Today’s media platforms did not invent contempt for politicians. And neither Republican or Democratic politicians of this generation invented invective toward each other. It didn’t cause someone to start sending bombs in the mail and in person then, and it’s not the cause of it now.
Who’s to blame, then? That’s easy — the person sending the bombs. That’s where the responsibility lies, and where the motivation lies too.
Political insults, attacks, and incivility are separate issues that create other problems within the political system. The same goes for bad reporting and bias in media, which undermines credibility and trust. Those are issues that need to be solved or at least improved in order to increase the functionality of our body politic. Too often we find ourselves at impasses where the ground for compromise is clear, but the trust and credit we need to finish the deal no longer exists. Immigration is the most obvious of those policy issues.
Those, however, don’t qualify as the root cause of insanity. If we actually start to believe that, then the only solution for it would be a societal and enforceable censorship program to stop the crazy-making word formulas from being spoken or written aloud. We’re arguing ourselves into a box and out of the First Amendment, all set to overturn Brandenburg at the drop of a hat to own the libs and/or cons.
Count me out. I’m happy to criticize bad and biased reporting, and to call out politicians for their excesses, lies, and corruption, activities protected by the First Amendment. That has nothing to do with those who commit acts of terrorism, and we need to make that clear to all sides that want to exploit an insane nincompoop to attack their own betes noires.