Even for MSNBC commentators, the “Trump is Hitler” meme is growing a little threadbare. So the comp lit graduate students at the New York Times are still busy combing the earth to find Bond villains to equate with President Trump. And in doing so, they are stirring up the Bond villains.
Their latest such term paper dressed up as an article shamelessly compares Trump with murderous Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte. Again. How shameless? Here is the article’s subtitle:
He is a child of privilege turned populist politician, an antidrug crusader who has struggled with drug abuse. Obsessed with death, he has turned his violent vision into national policy.
See!?? That’s just like Trump. Except for the “”murdering” “drug addict” and “obsessed with death” bits.
Child of privilege? Just like Trump. “Populist” politician? Trump. Ex-wives who supported their campaigns for president? Check, check, check. At every turn, the Times story insinuates similarities between the men. Never mind that the characteristics they do share are the ones common to politicians everywhere: ego, mouthiness, and, God forbid, vocal opposition to drug use and street crime.
There’s nothing Times reporters and their ideological peers won’t do to sustain such anti-Trump narratives. In December, they ecstatically reported that Duterte was calling himself the Donald Trump of the Philippines. When Duterte claimed, as crazy strongmen will, that Trump supported his murderous anti-drug policies, the Times took the dictator at his word, publishing his claim as if it were fact. Duterte saw an opportunity in aligning himself with Trump, and the Times saw an opportunity in comparing Duterte with Trump, and so the dictator and the journalists were off to the races.
In doing so, the Times was and is playing with diplomatic fire. Part of Trump’s job as president is to deal with thin-skinned thugs like Duterte. And diplomatic relations with thin-skinned thugs can quickly go pear-shaped when journalists carelessly stir things up.
During the Obama presidency, Times reporters did everything in their power to spit-shine every interaction Obama had with world leaders. Now, in their desire to bring down Trump, they are doing everything in their power to create conflict between the White House and foreign leaders.
It’s a dangerous game the amateur narratologists are playing. By putting the Duterte = Trump meme ahead of accurate reporting on U.S.-Philippines relations, the Times inserted itself into the official relationship between the two men. And now that they’re attacking Duterte instead of eagerly reprinting his press releases about Trump, Duterte is responding in kind.
None of this helps Trump’s efforts to manage Duterte, an important albeit mercurial ally. But that’s the point: the Times’ greatest hope is that Trump will fail and they can salt the earth with him and his supporters, regardless of the consequences for the United States.
In Duterte, the Times has also found the perfect vehicle for its most beloved narratives. Duterte uses death squads to kill drug dealers and users, ergo anti-crime policies everywhere must be discreditable criminal enterprises like his. Duterte is a thug who claims to speak for the common man, so speaking for the common man everywhere is really just thuggishness. Duterte claims that Trump admires his thuggishness and his death squads, so Trump must be a murderous thug.
It’s as if Joseph Goebbels is working at the Times copy desk.
The Times did the same thing last September and again on the eve of the election with Hugo Chavez and Trump. In September, the Times op-ed was: “What Hugo Chavez Tells Us About Donald Trump.”
The newspaper followed up on Nov. 3, with an op-ed titled “Is Donald Trump an American Hugo Chavez?” in which it cynically tried to stir up last-minute hostilities against Trump by claiming (with no evidence) that conservative voters who had emigrated from South America were out-of-their-minds terrified that Trump resembled the socialist Chavez. In December, the Old Gray Lady’s minions banged the drum again with an op-ed titled: “Will Democracy Survive Trump’s Populism? Latin America May Tell Us.”
In all three op-eds, the premise, insanely, went like this: Hugo Chavez was a populist autocrat; Hugo Chavez destroyed Venezuela’s oil industry; Donald Trump is a populist autocrat: therefore, Donald Trump will destroy America’s oil industry.
This is the same newspaper of record that never wondered if Obama’s politics were too close to Chavez’s socialism, or if his policies would destroy America’s oil industry.
This is unhinged professional fabulist-level projection, not to be undertaken by mere amateurs. The Times has crawled into bed with a lot of murderous dictators over the years, from Stalin to Castro to Guevara and occasionally even Chavez himself, back when he was more useful as the supposedly successful leader of a socialist paradise.
Instead of inventing similarities between Trump and Duterte or Trump and Chavez, the Times really ought to spend more time on an analyst’s couch considering its own relationship choices with Stalin, Chavez, Castro, Che, and so on.
Like an aging “Sex and the City” slattern, it is the paper, not Trump, that has a long history of this sort of thing.