Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"Pygmalion Punditry" And Trump

In a good read, FAIR's Reed Richardson describes the compulsion on the part of corporate media to normalize dangerous nitwit Donald "Rump" Trump as "Pygmalion punditry." Here are a few snippets:
Frustrated by the president’s obvious ignorance, juvenile impetuousness and endless norm-breaking, elite commentators have started resorting to a kind of Pygmalion punditry. To show how smart they are, these pundits have begun considering Trump in much the same way Professor Henry Higgins did Eliza Doolittle—as mostly a problem of manners and refinement to solve.
This fan fiction is little more than an intellectual dodge, however, where the press helpfully reimagines Trump as he might be, rather than analyzing him for what he really is. Less than three weeks before the election, for example, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan (10/20/16) produced her own pretentious entry in this genre under the headline “Imagine a Sane Donald Trump.” Her ostensibly critical piece was really an act of rhetorical jiu jitsu—praising Trump with faint damnation. Her Higginsesque focus rests almost exclusively on remaking Trump’s style and messaging, which often suffers from turning conservative subtext into too-obvious text. Notably, Noonan doesn’t bother much with recasting Trump’s actual policies into “sanity.” 
Richardson has some fine examples of this yearning to "refashion Trump into something he's not" from other pundits like Tom Friedman, Ross Douthat, Fred Hiatt, David Ignatius, and Gerald Seib. Needing to maintain access to power, these and other chin strokers -- and, sadly, many in newsrooms as well -- have a need to pursue a fiction that only the most deluded could believe after observing Rump in the arena for decades: the notion that somehow, someway Trump is going to change! pivot! moderate! mature!

As Richardson concludes about one such pundit, it's all
... a desperate attempt at projecting onto a radical, reckless and dishonest Trump the favored policies and norms of the media establishment[.]
So, the next time you hear the slogan "Democracy Dies In Darkness," remember who helped remove the light bulbs.

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