New York Times' Trump-voter fetish hits a low point as it turns over its opinion page to them

Meanwhile, Samantha Bee meets with a very different type of working-class voter

Published January 18, 2018 12:23PM (EST)

 (Getty/Alex Wong)
(Getty/Alex Wong)

The New York Times has a Trump-voter fetish. Invested deeply in sharp, considered resistance to his policies and behavior, the broadsheet has devoted much ink to attempting to capture and understand the mindset of the people on the other side of that particular coin, in the useless pursuit of equal time.

Time and again, the paper of record sends its reporters deep into the heart of Trump country (wherever that is) to talk to the men in hardhats and the men in baseball caps and the men in overalls who voted for President Donald Trump, often coming back with nothing more than rehashed talking points gleaned from @realDonaldTrump and questions about its own internal processes.

So self conscious is the Times' editorial board about its own pointed, perfectly reasonable stance against the president, that today it gave over its opinion page to a selection of letters to the paper from Trump voters (presumably the ones that did not feature conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism in all caps).

Distinct from a #MAGA search on Twitter only by their use of full sentences and lack of emojis, they offer little in the way of illumination, their publication saying more about how the paper views its own mission and what constitutes valuable content than the actual thought processes of the people represented. In the same superficial vein as, say, "Hillbilly Elegy," it's not what one would call "good."

Witness the testimony of Steven Sanabria of Oakdale, California:

Donald Trump has succeeded where Barack Obama failed. The economy is up, foreign tyrants are afraid, ISIS has lost most of its territory, our embassy will be moved to Jerusalem and tax reform is accomplished. More than that, Mr. Trump is learning, adapting and getting savvier every day. Entitlement reform is next! Lastly, the entrenched interests in Washington, which have done nothing but glad-hand one another, and both political parties are angry and afraid.

Who knew that all it would take to make progress was vision, chutzpah and some testosterone?

Have you learned anything that Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Anthony Scaramucci haven't attempted to teach you? No? What about this passage from a letter by Ellen Mackler of New Haven, Connecticut?

So far I am thrilled with his performance. Numerous reasons, but here are a few: recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; letting the generals crush ISIS; stronger plans to prevent North Korea and Iran from using nuclear weapons; getting out of biased United Nations organizations; and respect for the flag and the rule of law.

Yes, some of the writers call Trump "embarrassing," note his unavoidable character flaws, say they initially voted more against Hillary Clinton than they did for the man who would become president. But their arguments for him rest on shaky beliefs -- that he is good on security; that the singular priority for any president is the enabling of corporate growth and that such growth is the mark of a healthy economy; that President Obama was dangerously wrong on foreign policy and placated ISIS; that the media is unfair to Trump; that he's a master of business; that Clinton was corrupt; that a vicious crime wave was eating our cities alive; that bluster and anger are the same as leadership. Nowhere do these writers mention the cornerstone of his campaign and presidency, the one that secured his electoral win: His promise to purge America of Hispanic immigrants.

Dan Lorey of Cincinnati, Ohio writes:

A president like Donald Trump only appears every 100 years or so. He came to office with a solid Electoral College majority and a history of strong leadership of people from all walks of life. His positive agenda can be boiled down to national security and economic growth.

This collated regurgitation of the sort of hollow GOP narratives forwarded by Fox News and the White House itself is a poor replacement for serious commentary and valuable analysis of why people actually support Trump, why they believe he's a worthy leader, what brought them to this place. Yet, that is what the Times has handed us.

Felicitously, "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee," already had a rejoinder to the Times' Trump fetish locked, loaded and ready for airing on the same date that the paper announced the red-meat takeover of its opinion page. Bee, on the same intrepid hunt for "working-class Americans" as the Times and many other publications, also ventures deep into Trump country, but finds a type of hardhat laborers distinct from the ones usually discovered by reporters: Women and people of color. To listen to them, as Bee does, is not only to better understand this country's working class — which will be majority persons of color in a generation — but to understand what actually happened when Trump was elected, through the lens of the people most affected and endangered by his win. It's worth more than every letter the Times deemed fit to print, combined.

By Gabriel Bell

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