I’ve spent much of the past two weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire covering the Democratic presidential nominating contests—hours upon hours of talking with Democratic voters, meeting with volunteers and activists, going to campaign rallies and field offices, and generally immersing myself in the chaos and consternation of the Democratic primary.
Because I work for a right-of-center publication, that means talking to people all day long who fundamentally disagree with me about politics, and often much else. In some cases, I know that my views are repugnant to the person I’m talking to, and that if they knew what I thought they would openly despise me, maybe call me a bigot. Maybe worse.
But because my job is to report on the Democratic primary, the onus is on me to be generous and empathetic with Democratic voters. I want to know what they think, and why, and it doesn’t matter whether I agree with them. It actually doesn’t matter what I think at all, even if I find some of their views repugnant. That means I have to defer to them, I have to be respectful, I have to be patient.
The thing is, once you begin doing this, even for a little while, you find it’s easy. If you really listen and take people at their word, it’s not that hard to see where they’re coming from, how their experiences and circumstances inform their politics and worldview. Before long, being generous and empathetic toward them comes naturally, even if you still disagree with their politics.
I’ve been thinking about this, and about many conversations I had with people in Iowa and New Hampshire, in the face of a mainstream political press whose core ethos seems to be a seething contempt for the tens of millions of Americans who support Trump. The establishment media have no desire, and put forth no effort, to understand people with whom they disagree, and are therefore incapable of the generosity and empathy that good reporting requires.
Media Hate Trump Voters, and Don’t Even Try to Hide It
This isn’t the only reason so many Americans distrust the media, but it’s a big one. Trump supporters know exactly what the media think of them, in part because the media are constantly proclaiming it.
Consider an article that ran this week in Vox about Trump’s Monday night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. At one point the crowd, responding to Trump’s complaint about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mumbling behind his back during his State of the Union address, began chanting “Lock her up!” as they did for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
For anyone who’s ever been to a Trump rally, chants like this aren’t something to take all that seriously. I’ve been to more than a dozen Trump rallies, and from what I can tell most people are there for a good time, which accounts for the generally joyous and positive atmosphere at these things. Trump’s rambling monologues and inevitable jabs at the press pen, like the chants, are all part of the harmless fun—politics as a WWE spectacle rather than an actual blood sport.
Not for Vox’s Aaron Rupar: “The moment was a cruel reminder that even if Clinton has temporarily faded out of view, Trump and his fans seem to enjoy the pipe dream of imprisoning progressive women — in this case, for the imaginary crime of speaking quietly.”
Imagine the hostility and disdain you must have for Trump supporters to conclude from what amounts to a joke at a rally that Trump supporters literally want to imprison leftist women. It’s beyond parody.
Read more here.