Whenever a public figure like a president dies the media brings out their pre-written obituaries and biographies. It becomes a multi-day marathon of tributes and remembrances that focus on the most positive aspects of the dearly departed. And these past past few days since the passing of President George H.W. Bush has been no exception.
What is exceptional, however, is the capacity for Fox News, and their stable of right-wing shills, to turn the whole thing into a political circus. And they valiantly manage to do it in the most brazenly asinine way possible. The coverage on Fox has taken a well-coordinated turn to spin any positive messaging about Bush as a calculated attack on Donald Trump. No, really. Here is the host of Fox’s MediaBuzz, Howard Kurtz, on how the press is weaponizing tributes to Bush (video below):
“There has been just a remarkable media outpouring of gratitude and affection and celebration since the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush. But what’s really striking now are the tributes, because there’s just a lot of national affection for a guy who was such a gentleman, and sort of engaged in civility, and could debate his opponents without demonizing them, and often worked with Democrats.”
Kurtz went on to highlight what he perceives as “the contrast between all of the hoopla now” and the way Bush was covered at the time. Then he itemized some of Bush’s most notable missteps and failures, including the blatantly racist, “Willie Horton” ad (produced by a protege of Roger Ailes, who later founded Fox News), and his infamous broken promise of “no new taxes.” All of this was leading up to his premise that the complimentary coverage Bush in death is a deliberate attack on Donald Trump:
“Many of the journalists and pundits who don’t like this president have decided to use the passing of a previous president as a way to bash Trump. […] Very much in contrast to the way he was covered in the 1980’s and 1990’s. And very much used as a kind of a weapon against President Trump.”
Kurtz isn’t the only Fox News Trump-fluffer to make this connection between flattering Bush and insulting Trump. Sean Hannity did a whole segment on his Monday night program wherein he ranted that “They’ll try and bludgeon you when your alive, and now that you’re no longer a political threat oh, you were the greatest person that ever lived.” And Laura Ingraham weighed in on the same subject saying “Sadly though, with the death of George H.W. Bush, some in the media, and politicians from both parties, are abusing this moment to trash instead the sitting president.”
The main problem with these analyses is that they actually point to a big problem that is inherent to Trump’s malignant personality disorders. By praising anyone else for their civility, genteelness, character, unselfishness, and respect for others, you are by definition criticizing Trump’s lack of any of these traits. Just by saying that Bush often demonstrated kindness or concern, you’re making an inescapable comparison to the narcissistic blowhard currently occupying the Oval Office.
Furthermore, these Trump supplicants on Fox News seem to think that there’s something wrong if coverage of a deceased president is different, more complimentary, than the coverage they received when they were still on their government jobs. That’s absurd to the point of nonsense. Political leaders are subject to being critiqued while serving. They face good and bad press in response to their performance and behavior. They are not supposed to be lionized while in office as saintly figures upon whom only praise is lavished. And while that may be the way that Fox News always treats Trump, that doesn’t make it right, or ethical, or sane.
Bush had some successes as president. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act. But he had his share of failures too. And if the press lays off for a few days after his passing, that’s to be expected. But complimenting him on matters of character that Trump is so sorely lacking isn’t an example of the press bashing Trump. It’s Trump’s fault for being such an unambiguous asshole that any discussion about someone who isn’t reflects badly on him. If he doesn’t like it he could try to stop being such a self-absorbed jackass. But it’s probably too late for that.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.