Bob Sparks: Mainstream media not the only Trump enablers

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Our country has some serious issues to deal with. The next president must finally confront terrorism both overseas and within our borders. The latest tragic example came on Wednesday in San Bernardino, California.

We cannot get this choice wrong. For those of us who believe the best candidates are on the Republican side, GOP voters are far from settled on who they want to face Hillary Clinton.

Those tuning in to television political news hear things like “Donald Trump is flying high” or “Trump’s message resonates with frustrated Republicans.”  As if they are casual bystanders, commentators proclaim “Trump is dominating nearly every news cycle.” At least until Wednesday.

That pretty well describes what poses for analysis on the GOP side. Every day is like the movie “Groundhog Day.” This is how it works:

A new day dawns and Trump has a rally or he gives a reporter or personality an audience at Trump Tower. He skillfully exercises his free speech rights to say something brash about someone or something. To end the day, talking heads or a panel then discuss what Trump did and said earlier.

A new day dawns and Trump has a rally …

You get the picture. Jeb Bush summed it up perfectly when he said Trump is playing the media “like a fiddle.”

The differences come on the few occasions when he fudges the truth. The best example came when Trump said Bush was uttering a falsehood by pointing out Trump had personally lobbied for casinos in Florida. The Bush version was proven to be undeniably true.

Honesty does not matter to far too many of those truly committed to Trump. An example from talk radio is useful.

Preston Scott hosts a local Tallahassee program called “The Morning Show.” Scott, a bona fide conservative, informed his audience after Trump’s false statement that he could not support someone who lies. Trump and Clinton were disqualified for that reason.

Scott then took listeners’ calls and one in particular stood out. When Scott prompted the caller to reveal whom he supports, the caller proudly said “Donald Trump.” He was asked why.

“Because he tells it like it is,” the caller said proudly. When Scott reminded him of Trump’s false statement, the caller said it did not matter to him, then repeated his affinity for Trump because he “tells it like it is.”

How do you discuss facts and policy with someone whose favorite philosopher is probably Yogi Berra?

For those of us who thought Trump would have faded by now, we must admit we were wrong. This leaves us to ponder how he has managed to maintain a plurality. Most of us do not equate bombast with leadership.
It is always easy to blame the “mainstream” media, but this time they deserve their fair share of it. Trump, the quote factory/fiddler, makes it too easy for them.

Perhaps a bigger reason he continues to be relevant is his treatment from the conservative media, even Fox News commentators. Listen to Eric Bolling of “The Five” defend Trump some time.

Rush Limbaugh, perhaps the most trusted voice among conservatives, has basically been an enabler for the charade. He has not officially endorsed Trump, but has not called him out for his shortcomings, either.

Trump routinely disparages those who disagree with him in a manner similar to that of President Obama. Trump is telegraphing how he would govern.

Conservative media, and in some cases the mainstream, has rightfully criticized the divisive rhetoric coming from our president during the past seven years. Why the silence now?

Limbaugh is far from alone among enablers, but he carries the most clout with GOP primary voters. With conservative media demanding precious little accountability, who is there to speak to the huge majority of those who do not support Trump?

Perhaps the Trump act will finally wear thin and those chronicling the election of the next leader of the free world will take things more seriously. We get it that left-leaning media celebrates every day Trump is on top, but the events of Wednesday reaffirm that we must focus on real issues.

How many sensational headlines or “did you hear what Trump said” blogs or stand-ups from Trump Tower will finally be enough? Hopefully, those deciding what news is will not wait until March before becoming bored with the circus.

Did you hear that Trump, registered 27 percent in the Quinnipiac poll this week? It’s true. He is ahead, but three out of four voters either don’t care or want someone else, but one would be hard pressed to hear that reality described in the analysis.

“Trump soars … in latest Quinnipiac poll” reads one headline from a Florida paper.

“Trump builds his lead” declares a mainstream national publication.

Enablers to the right of us; enablers to the left of us.

Bob Sparks is a business and political consultant based in Tallahassee. 

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