BOB GARFIELD: Oh, lookee here, look who’s all of a sudden respectable, Trump, interviewed by The Wall Street Journal on financial policy on Monday and the day before too, with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
GEOEGE STEPHANOPOULOS: If you try to buy debt back in discount, interest rates are going to go up.
DONALD TRUMP: No, you can buy debt back –
GEOPRGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you have to borrow to pay for it.
DONALD TRUMP: You buy debt back and you take advantage of certain things. You can…
BOB GARFIELD: The same morning, Donald Trump was on NBC's Meet the Press, where Chuck Todd, to his credit, I suppose, caught him in a flip-flop over his incoherent tax proposals.
CHUCK TODD: Should we assume that most of your plans then, we shouldn't take you at your word, as sort of that they're floors, what you just described, that, you know what, it's my opening statement but everything is negotiable?
DONALD TRUMP: It’s not, it’s not a word. Excuse me, it’s – excuse me. It’s called life, Chuck. It’s not my word. Of course, I put in a proposal. You know what they are, they’re really proposals. People can say it’s a tax plan. It’s really a tax proposal.
[RECORD SCRATCH SOUND EFFECT]
BOB GARFIELD: Hold it. Tax policy? Why give that any scrutiny whatsoever, no matter how flip-floppy or incoherent? There are far bigger fish to fry.
DONALD TRUMP: [FOREBODING MUSIC CHORDS] They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime [CHORDS], they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. [CHORDS]
DONALD TRUMP: You know, he may be talking, but he'll talk a lot faster with the torture.
DONALD TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
DONALD TRUMP: So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you, seriously?
DONALD TRUMP: You know, you could see there was blood comin’ out of her eyes, blood coming out of her – wherever.
DONALD TRUMP: How do you know those bruises weren’t there before? I’m not a lawyer.
BOB GARFIELD: Trump has achieved the brink of the Republican nomination, according to the candidate himself, by being himself, no matter how politically incorrect, except that his supposedly courageous candor is contaminated with the most cowardly hate speech – racism, xenophobia, misogyny, incitement, breathtaking ignorance on issues, both foreign and domestic, and a nuclear recklessness, reminiscent of a raving meth head with a machete on an episode of Cops.
[CLIP/COPS THEME SONG]:
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
[MUSIC UP & UNDER]
BOB GARFIELD: The man is a menace of historic proportions, so who the Chuck Todd cares about his tax proposals? It’s like asking Charles Manson about his driving record. But here comes the political press, going into standard general election mode and treating a demagogue as a legitimate standard bearer, as if the only thing he has to answer for is the latest blip in the news cycle.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: Who will Donald Trump pick as his vice presidential running mate?
MALE CORRESPONDENT: All right, just moments ago Donald Trump arrived in Washington. We saw his plane at Reagan National Airport. At this very moment, he is in an SUV. He’s on his way.
BOB GARFIELD: Let’s just say that we institutionally were obliged, ‘til now, to report and thus give oxygen to Trump’s incendiary ravings because hate speech is news. It’s our role to expose it, even if the exposure serves him. It is not our role, however, to be co-conspirators in his revisionist imagery.
FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: The Republican race for president with a brand new look this morning, a presidential Donald Trump, fresh off a major foreign policy speech.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: Today, he decided to act presidential and gave a foreign policy speech, read it from a teleprompter. That's not like Donald Trump. He was tempered in his approach.
MALE CORRESPONDENT: But if you listened to Trump last night at his, quote, unquote, “victory speech,” we saw the different Trump. We saw the calm Trump, the more presidential Trump.
BOB GARFIELD: For crying out loud, of course, he wants to be elevated. What’s sickening is who's operating the elevator. With every oh, so decorous question about tax policy or the national debt, the media are not simply abetting him but normalizing him, in effect, accepting his grotesque path to the nomination.
Look, by its nature, journalism subordinates old news to the latest development. But, in this case, being slave to the fresh angle is simple malpractice because every moment spent on Trump policy and process buries the lead. The lead is that a man who wants to build a wall, who wants to ban Muslims, who sees women only as potential vessels for his – “no problem there, I assure you” - could be the president of the United States. It was the lead in July. It is the lead now. It will be the lead in November.
[MUSIC UP & UNDER]
Every interview with Donald Trump, every single one should hold him accountable for bigotry, incitement, juvenile conduct and blithe contempt for the Constitution. The voters will do what the voters will do, but it must not be, cannot be because the press did not do enough.
That's it for this week’s show. On the Media is produced by Meara Sharma, Alana Casanova-Burgess, Jesse Brenneman and Dasha Lisitsina. And our show was edited this week by our Executive Producer Katya Rogers. Our technical director is Jennifer Munson. Our engineer this week was Casey Holford.
Jim Schachter is WNYC's vice president for news. Bassist composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. On the Media is a production of WNYC Studios. Brooke Gladstone will be back next week. I’m Bob Garfield.