BY FROMA HARROP
It’s getting harder by the day to tune in to MSNBC. My chief complaint isn’t the leftish slant. It’s the news channel’s obsession with the latest idiocy to emerge from the Trumpian yap. Anyone who wants to express dismay that Trump called a woman “Horseface” is certainly entitled to, but not on my time’s dime.
There’s little shock or news value here. Donald Trump’s rap sheet of insults toward women is long. Watching the respectable media endlessly debate every attention-seeking gibe as if it were momentous news is depressing.
Of greater concern is their focus on the insignificant, letting it crowd out coverage of the administration’s toxic policies. The big story is exploding deficits. Pumping out trillion-dollar deficits in the middle of a strong economy is fiscal insanity.
The reckless tax cuts are the main driver. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is already weaponizing the deficit to force cuts in Medicare and Social Security.
Republican talk of new middle-class tax cuts is pre-election baloney. No details – not on the cuts themselves, not on paying for them [ha-ha-ha]. Anyhow, more tax cuts would blow the deficit still higher, sharpening the dagger pointed at cherished middle-class programs.
Of course, Trump would rather we fixate on “Horseface” or his other anti-social mutterings. That’s how he distracts us from policies that hurt ordinary Americans.
Recall Trump’s recent visit to Montana, where he praised Rep. Greg Gianforte, best known for physically assaulting a reporter. “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my guy,” Trump bellowed as his crowd cheered lustily.
In my book, a guy who loses it after being asked a question on health care is weak on anger management. That said, Gianforte did apologize for the incident, and the reporter is fine.
In making the story all about Trump, the news channels missed an opportunity to cover Gianforte’s highly unpopular positions on a burning issue in the rural West: the people’s right to enjoy their gorgeous wilderness.
A multimillionaire from New Jersey, Gianforte joined other wealthy out-of-staters in buying vast tracts in Montana and then trying to keep locals – used to more neighborly landowners – off their properties. Gianforte sued the state to remove a public easement that gave hunters, anglers and hikers access to the East Gallatin River via his property. He accused Montana of using “extortion” to keep the path open.
More ominously, Gianforte has introduced two bills in Congress that would strip protections from 800,000 acres of federally owned land in Montana. It includes some of the state’s most beloved and iconic landscapes, among them the Centennial Mountains and the Terry Badlands. Much of the land was recommended for wilderness designation by pre-Trump Interior Departments.
The bills would open it to industrial uses, such as logging, mining and oil and gas development. Guess whose friends could profit handsomely.
Gianforte’s “public meeting” on the matter was actually an invitation-only meeting. Less than 24 hours before, he played the trick of saying anyone could come. Those opposed, if they learned of the change, had little time to get themselves there. Montana is a big place.
So too bad that the recent coverage centered on Gianforte’s long-ago outburst. And that was only because Trump gave it a thumbs-up.
In truth, Trump rallies have become boring reruns. Even Fox News is cutting back on covering them. “It’s hard to call something breaking news if it happens with metronomic regularity,” a Fox News source reportedly told BuzzFeed.
Trump undoubtedly plans new verbal eruptions to push us off the trail of things that matter. Condemning them is easy. Ignoring them would be a gift to the civic culture.
– Froma Harrop’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer