BROOKE GLADSTONE Yes, we may teeter and even totter her, but we can always rely on the insights from the insider's and farseers of our political press, extrapolating from the pronouncements of our elected officials. Even, as Bob observes, when they are wrong, time after time. The fact that they feel so sure is reassuring, right?
BOB GARFIELD This was Republican Ben Sasse last week dumping on Donald Trump.
BEN SASSE The way he kisses dictator's butts. I mean, he and I have a very different form of policy. It isn't just that he fails to lead our allies. It's that we, the United States, now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor.
BOB GARFIELD Sasse goes on and on, triggering a spasm of triumphal journalism about Senate Republicans like Sasse, like John Cornyn of Texas and Martha McSally of Arizona, finally fleeing the stinking Trump ship. Running for the lifeboats, as the Hill put it. CNN's Brianna Keilar.
BRIANNA KEILAR Some are coming to the realization that they're towing a President Trump shaped anchor. [END CLIP]
BOB GARFIELD Different nautical analogy, but...whatever. At Vox politics and policy reporter Li Zhou described, quote, a broader trend of Republicans doing what many GOP lawmakers have long been unwilling to do, signal a break with Trump. That's true. Republicans have long been unwilling to break with Trump on Brett Kavanaugh's court nomination, on climate change, on immigration, on impeachment, on COVID, on health care, on the wall, on thousands of lies and cowardly attacks. The press, on the other hand, has been super willing to see such breaks coming. Just after the perfect call to Ukraine's president that triggered impeachment, Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times ventured that, quote, The GOP establishment might desert Mr. Trump as swiftly and unexpectedly as it bent the knee to him in 2016.
In Fortune, a year ago, quote, public support for impeachment inquiry surges as key Republicans distanced themselves from Trump. And Business Insider headlined the story Cracks appear in GOP Redwall of support for Trump. Nope. Turns out that was one wall that went up and stayed up. Whether this and all the other crack noticing was a case of careless extrapolation or just wishful thinking. This time of year, it all sounds so familiar.
LINUS Hey, aren't you going to wait and greet the great pumpkin, huh? It won't be long now! [END CLIP]
BOB GARFIELD The press's great pumpkin vigil actually began before Trump ever took office. The Republican civil war has begun, wrote Rolling Stone in March of 2016. Republican exodus from Trump Grows, claimed The Hill, which went all Dwight Eisenhower on how it was all going to happen?
THE HILL Each defection could cause a domino effect for the Republican Party. [END CLIP]
BOB GARFIELD And good ole' Morning Joe.
MORNING JOE They're not going to be able to come. Endorse a guy that makes racist statements. [END CLIP]
BOB GARFIELD So many exoduses that weren't. So many growing distances, so many journo-geologists detecting so many fault lines. Perhaps especially at The Washington Post, which sees cracks everywhere.
BOB GARFIELD October 2019, the Republican Cracks on Impeachment are Starting to Show; September 2019, Cracks Emerge Among Senate Republicans; March 2019, GOP Unity Behind Trump is Cracking; January 2019, As Trump appeals to Nation For Wall Cracks Show in His GOP Support; and Post columnist Michael Gerson, in August 2017, That Sound You Hear is the Wall of Elected Republicans Support for President Trump Beginning to Crack...or just the sound of magical thinking? Meanwhile, as the press goes gaga over the candor, humility and raw political courage of Ben Sasse, please note that over four years the senator has voted with Trump 86.7 Percent of the time, including on Brett Kavanaugh, including repealing Obamacare, including the border wall, including arms to Saudi Arabia, including the ruinous tax cuts and including confirmation of Mike Pompeo, Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, Betsy Davos, Linda McMahon and Bill Barr, and including impeachment. The heroic renegade Martha McSally has voted with the president 94.8 Percent, John Cornyn ninety 95.1 Percent. With distance like that, who needs blind loyalty? But on the Hallow's Eve of election, here's the press once more suckered into the exodus narrative. Some have compared such chronic gullibility to Charlie Brown, thinking Lucy will finally let him kick the football. But how can we possibly trivialize a matter as grave as media failure by comparing it to Charlie Brown? Come on, be serious.
CHARLIE BROWN What did he leave us? Did he leave us any toys?
LINUS I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin when I could have been out for tricks or treats. Halloween is over and I missed it! [COMEDIC THUMP] [END CLIP]
BOB GARFIELD That's it for this week's show. On the Media is produced by Alana Casanova-Burgess, Micah Loewinger, Leah Feder, Jon Hanrahan and Eloise Blondiau with help from Ava Sasani. And our show was edited....by Brooke. Our technical director is Jennifer Munson. Our engineers this week with Sam Bair and Josh Hahn.
BROOKE GLADSTONE Katya Rogers is our executive producer. On the Media is a production of WNYC Studios, and I'm inviting you to hang out with us on November 3rd for election night. It'll be on Zoom or something like Zoom, so you'll actually be seeing us and our guests. Just go to the green space. That's G-R-E-E-N-E space dot org. For more info, or text OTM Live to 7-0-1-0-1 to get updates by text. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
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