Brian Stelter attends the 11th annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Brian Stelter was in rare form today. He’s apparently dead serious about winning the Comfortably Smug #Liberal Hack tournament.
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) February 2, 2020
The subject he was dealing with was two of his favorite: Donald Trump and FoxNews. He was commenting on Sean Hannity giving a pre-view of his Super Bowl interview with Donald Trump. Now, let’s be serious for a moment. Did you actually expect Hannity to generate news in a Trump interview? (Back before I became a total Trumptard, Trumpalumpa, unprincipled sell out or whatever, I wrote this which actually generated a protest Who Has Sean Hannity Interviewed 41 Times Without Making News? Can You Guess?) This is not to say some interesting stuff doesn’t come out, but Hannity’s interviews with Trump are basically like those Barack Obama received from most of the news media. This is the segment that got Stelter exercised:
The first clip from Sean Hannity's big interview with the president features POTUS talking about Michael Bloomberg's height. pic.twitter.com/iRdX3fFUTg
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 2, 2020
And he took it really personally, almost like he, too, felt like going out in search of a box.
This, however, is how the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin interpreted the situation.
The commentary after really makes it…
This clip also captures why impeachment has been a hiatus for hill Rs in one important way: they made everything in recent months about impeachment threshold, faced few Qs about Trump’s more-routine bombast https://t.co/qbcujBrbOH
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 2, 2020
To call this insane is to do it too much credit.
For the past two months, Republican politicians have not been on hiatus. They have been front in center in a battle that has very real political consequences for them. Every sentence they utter was parsed by a White House and by Congressional leadership looking for any hint of defection. It was listened to by the Democrats to see if there was the potential to convince a Republican to go Vichy or Bill Kristol. The politicians, themselves, were making statements with an eye on how it would sell in November. They were longing for the days of Trump’s statements and Trump’s tweets taking all the oxygen out of the media environment.
What possible danger is there in reacting to Trump’s take on the small stature of Mike Bloomberg? Zero. Worse casing it, you say that you haven’t heard the comment. Or make some joke about it. As short people are not a protected class (yet), you could even go along with it with very little risk. This is not hard. So long as you don’t go full SJW on President Trump over ‘height-ism’–you think I’m joking, but I guarantee you we are not a week away from a 10,000-word thought piece somewhere on ‘height privilege’ and ‘short shaming’–you’re save.
This comment goes to a much, much, much larger problem in our political commentariat. These people truly don’t understand electoral politics. They don’t understand what registers with voters and what doesn’t. A couple of outlets are still persisting in their daily counts of the number of ‘lies’ they think Trump has told seemingly ignorant of the obvious fact that a) no one trusts them and b) Trump’s penchant for hyperbole is accepted as a part of his persona. (One would have thought that after they tried to fact-check Ronald Reagan to death and routinely declared things that he said about the economy and welfare and defense to be lies, that they would have learned that an institution that is widely viewed to be populated by liars loses the ability to put that label on anyone else.) They don’t even understand that politicians would rather not engage in high stakes questioning by reporters if they can avoid it.
There is no universe in which politicians would prefer to put their careers on the line discussing a very sensitive political issue involving the fate of the President rather than dealing with some off-color or partially-daft tweet by President Trump.