The following is a PoliticusUSA editorial written by co-publisher and managing editor Sarah Jones.
The media keeps playing dumb by asking Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump is a racist. This question sets the issue up as if it is a matter of debate or personal opinion and is being used to exploit drama for ratings.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, some of your — some Democrats are — are taking even stronger language than you’ve used this morning.
Marsha Fudge — Congresswoman Marsha Fudge, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, calling Donald Trump a racist.
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York this morning, uh, saying Mr. Trump behaves like a racist, speaks like a racist, of course Donald Trump is a racist.”
Are they right?
Asking if Donald Trump is a racist is putting the onus on Democrats to say yes, and then treating it like just another campaign barb. This is highly irresponsible, especially in light of the violence being incited by Donald Trump toward African Americans.
Donald Trump told his crowd of supporters just hours before the Chicago event, “These people are so bad for our country… You have no idea folks, you have no idea. They contribute nothing.”
They are the enemy. “They” being the protesters, the black people. They need to be hurt. They deserve to be hurt. This is what Donald Trump is saying.
Republican strategist/apologist Alex Castellanos said today on Meet the Press that Donald Trump is not a racist because he doesn’t have violence in his heart:
Stuart Stevens this morning in The Post, Alex, Romney’s chief strategist, made the comparison to George Wallace. He went for the George Wallace route and said the Democratic party did shut Wallace out and threw him, essentially, rhetorically threw him out. Does the Republican party need to do that with Donald Trump?
I…No, I don’t think so. Because I don’t think Trump is a racist. I don’t think he has violence in his heart. I’ve seen first-time candidates get up there, you get up on stage, you’re starch, you’re having fun, a protester, it works, and you do more of it. And it’s all fun and games until one day there’s blood on the floor.
There’s already blood on the floor and Donald Trump is saying he might pay the legal feels of the man who repeatedly sucker punched a protester who was being led out by security.
When you have to resort to claiming x negative thing is not in someone’s heart, something that can’t be proven or disproved, you’re pretty desperate. This is a fallacious argument of the highest order: Don’t look at what Donald Trump is doing or saying; Imagine his heart instead! Castellanos doubled down by making a lame excuse about first-time candidates. If Republicans would stop excusing the inexcusable, they might not have Donald Trump as their front-runner. But that would take political courage.
Thus Republicans again cede the “party of responsibility” to Democrats.
But even more importantly, the question is not is Donald Trump a racist, although if that is the question, the media need only recall this August of 2015 interview during which Trump announced that since he thinks Obama was horrible, we wouldn’t have another African American president for a long time.
Is Donald Trump acting like a racist, inciting racism, stoking racism, playing on the fears about minorities? Or is Donald Trump the kind of person who can lift us up to unify us?
The answer is Donald Trump is deliberately playing with political violence. He is doing it so he can point the finger at protesters and drum up even more hate, and then play the part of tough guy who will straighten out the people who are “so bad for our country”. Donald Trump is inciting racial violence.
That is the only answer anyone needs to know, and it’s a fact. Rachel Maddow proved this with her sound bites that were date stamped as Trump’s rhetoric escalated.
The media needs to stop pretending this is a matter of opinion. It is not. These events at Trump rallies are facts. It is the media’s job to take facts and form an analysis of what they mean. It is not their job to pretend that basic facts are up for debate. This is how we got to the point where we are debating science, FYI. Let’s not do this again.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.