- - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It’s a bit much to endure the national media speculating for the last couple of weeks about whether Donald Trump will turn the Republican primary contest into an unserious reality television show. Most of them, we can be sure, would like nothing better. Unserious is what they feed on.

This is the press that spent the last week obsessing over Cecil the lion, of whom most had never before heard of. Yes, Cecil’s death was cruel and unnecessary, and his hunters should be punished. But in a week filled with press reports examining every conceivable angle of this unimportant story: What will become of Cecil’s cubs? What of his brother, Jericho? Will they have enough giraffe for dinner? What will happen to the dentist? His guides? Shouldn’t every airline stop carrying wild game trophies? Consider what else the press might have devoted its energies to.

Last week came the release of the fourth video revealing Planned Parenthood executives trafficking in baby parts. In that video, a doctor sorts through carefully dissected pieces of aborted babies, saying, “Oh, look, here’s some organs for you. They’re all attached. Here’s a stomach, heart, kidney, adrenal …” She goes on to say that “when you get to 17 or 18 weeks—’cause we do some of those … we’d have to do a little bit of training with the providers or something to make sure they didn’t crush.”

Adam Smith observed of human nature that most of us would lose more sleep over the loss of our own little finger than we would the loss of millions of lives in distant China. It’s society, he said, that corrects this self-centeredness and redirects it to better ends. But what would Smith make of a society outraged by the loss of an animal in Africa, and numb to the killing of millions of our own babies, themselves not much bigger than a little finger?

Our unserious press investigates Marco Rubio’s four speeding tickets in 20 years and forces Scott Walker to say whether he thinks President Obama is a Christian — but never demands that Hillary Clinton say if she thinks it’s OK to harvest baby parts and sell them.

There’s more interest in the gender assertions of B-list celebrities than in the very real possibility that the Democratic frontrunner for president could be charged with stealing hundreds of classified documents. And there’s more interest in the hacked photos of a few movie stars than in the government losing tens of millions of federal background checks and security clearance records to the Chinese.

The press spent months developing what turned out to be a completely false narrative of the events in Ferguson, Missouri. Meanwhile, there are real crises: Many innocent blacks are killed every day by criminals, and millions more live in poverty. The press scarcely covers these tragedies, and never declares them cause for a national conversation.

The Justice Department sent dozens of agents to Ferguson and produced a 102-page report on the police department’s emails after an officer shot a violent man in self-defense. How many agents has the Department of Justice sent to Chappaqua? How long will its report on Hillary’s emails be? Where is the reporter who’s asked these questions?

The unserious press is eager for Jeb Bush to tell us whether he’d have gone to war in Iraq as his brother did 12 years ago, knowing what he knows now. When was the last time a reporter asked President Obama if he still thinks it would have been wise to go to war in Syria (as Obama himself attempted two years ago), knowing what he knows now? Or if the president still thinks he was right to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, knowing what he knows now?

A lane closure on the George Washington Bridge is said to disqualify a candidate for the presidency more than accepting millions of dollars from brutal dictatorships. And Donald Trump is unserious?

Make no mistake. The reason Mr. Trump will be center stage Thursday night isn’t just because he’s an entertainer. It’s because much of the country knows the political press and the Washington elite views itself as Cecil the lion and the Republican field as antelopes on the Serengeti. They can see Mr. Trump is waving red meat for the media beast … and they’re eager to see where he takes it.

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