Every time a David Duke or some other marginal Klan-connected or neo-Nazi lowlife crawls out from under a rock and gratuitously endorses Donald Trump (or anyone else, particularly a Republican or a conservative), the mainstream media call breathless attention to the news. They further demand that Mr. Trump or the other endorsee renounce the unsolicited and unwanted endorsement.
It’s a brilliant stratagem by the media. There is an inexhaustible supply of otherwise ignored extremists who rise to the bait: Endorsing Donald Trump or a respectable Republican or conservative is the one sure way for a bigot or an extremist to get a minute’s worth of air time and six inches of ink.
It also has the effect of tainting the supposedly supported candidate by association and advances the meme that Mr. Trump, the Republican Party or the conservative movement somehow makes it safe for racists, anti-Semites and bigots of all stripes to strut their stuff among decent people.
But when the father of the homosexual-hating jihadi who killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando showed up at a Clinton rally, applauded the Democratic presidential nominee and her campaign, the media played it quite differently. Hillary Clinton responded to questions not by repudiating the endorsement or the father’s suggestion that it was actually unnecessary for his son to kill the gays he targeted because Allah himself would have taken care of them in due time, but by saying merely that the campaign neither invited him nor knew he would be at the rally. Somehow, that was deemed an adequate response.
And now, a left-wing David Duke of the most extreme variety has endorsed Mrs. Clinton. Yet it has neither raised the hackles of the media nor resulted in demands that her campaign explain or denounce the endorsement. Her endorser is no less a figure than the chairman of the Communist Party of the United States.
That would be John Bachtell, the top leader of a vestigial branch of one of the greatest tyrannies in human history. The Communist Party has never disavowed the cause that led directly and intentionally to millions of deaths. American Communists do not hang their heads in shame because they have advocated ideas — such as “equality” as supreme among human values, the rightful place of the state in command of all human activity, and the legitimacy of brute force in silencing opponents and seizing the levers of power — that have led to more misery for more people in more places than any other totalitarian movement in history. This is the man who has taken to the official organ of the Communist Party to urge Communists to fight Mr. Trump and to elect Mrs. Clinton.
Where are the reports about how Communists — real, live, unrepentant, Marxist-Leninist, card-carrying Communists — see support for, and the election of, Hillary Clinton as the next step in their path to power in America? Just askin’.
If there weren’t a double standard afflicting the mainstream media, those reports would be fed to us right along with the latest blather from and about the wicked, toothless and irrelevant David Duke. Neither Grand Wizard Duke nor Comrade Bachtell is of any real moment in 21st century America, but you would think that the grand wizard’s endorsement means that Mr. Trump either supports or condones his insanity while the commissar is just a harmless eccentric about whom Mrs. Clinton shouldn’t be bothered.
This would be funny except that it illustrates in the starkest terms the degree to which the mainstream media have managed to dedicate themselves to the defeat of a major party candidate and his party. In the past, the media have denied charges from the right that their coverage is biased. No longer. In the Brave New World in which we find ourselves, The New York Times not only defends biased coverage of Mr. Trump, his views and his campaign, but actually attempts to justify it on moral grounds, arguing that journalists have an obligation to do all in their power to deny political victory to those they believe would be bad for the country. We’ve been complaining for years that opinion has been leaking into the news sections of the nation’s papers; now The New York Times is not only willing to admit we were right, but argues that journalists have an obligation to vent their feelings as long as they are strongly held as part of the news.
And in virtually the same breath defenders of the major media suggest the average American can neither trust nor believe what he or she reads in the newspapers or sees on the evening news. No wonder.
Appalled by The New York Times’ defense of ideologically driven “journalism,” media critic Howard Kurtz this week wrote, “The media’s legions of Trump-bashers are finally acknowledging the obvious. And trying their best to justify it. But there’s one problem: Tilting against one candidate in a presidential election can’t be justified.”
It’s not just our political house that’s a shambles. American journalism needs to put its house in order, too.
• Joseph A. Morris, a partner in the Chicago law firm of Morris & De La Rosa, served as assistant U.S. attorney general in the Reagan administration.