President Donald Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked a tidal wave of criticism from journalists. During his August 15 press conference, Trump argued “many fine people” attended the white supremacist rally and suggested that “both sides” were equally responsible for the violence that broke out in the rally’s aftermath.
NBC’s Chuck Todd remarked that Trump’s comments “gave me the wrong kind of chills. Honestly, I’m a bit shaken from what I just heard.” CNN’s Jim Acosta suggested “we saw the president’s true colors today and I’m not sure they were red, white, and blue.” MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace called Trump a “disgrace,” arguing he’d “given safe harbor to Nazis, to white supremacists.”
In the wake of that kind of forceful condemnation, it’s worth asking: How does news coverage of the Trump administration go back to normal after this?
The president of the United States gave public remarks defending attendees of a white supremacist rally and suggested that counterprotesters were equally to blame for violence. Trump hasn’t just “traded away the moral authority of the office,” as CNN’s Don Lemon described. He’s used that authority to play defense for white supremacists.
How do news networks go back to talking about infrastructure after this? How do they go back to covering White House press briefings and inviting Trump surrogates onto primetime panels? How do they continue to neutrally cover Republicans in Congress, who have so far done nothing to formally punish Trump for his comments, without describing them as de facto enablers of white supremacy?
Journalists have so far operated under the assumption that the president doesn’t harbor a fundamentally un-American worldview. What if that assumption is wrong?
Watch the video above and consider what happens to news coverage when the president is deeply immoral.