In a new essay for his magazine, The New Republic, fiercely liberal writer/editor Jeet Heer took an extraordinarily honest look at the behavior of liberals – including himself – when it comes to bashing Donald Trump over every little mistake, language gaffe, and tweet. “Liberals,” he wrote in the headline, “are becoming knee-jerk anti-Trumpists.”
Well, better to come to these realizations late than never.
Heer noted that while Trump made some compassionate, “presidential” remarks regarding the human rights situation in North Korea – remarks that contrasted with his previous attacks on Kim Jong Un and his vows to turn the country into a wasteland of fire and fury – they were scarcely covered by a media desperate to paint Trump in the worst light possible at all times.
“These powerful words, and other important moves Trump has made on his Asian trip, have received relatively little attention in America this week,” he wrote. “Instead, we’ve been inundated with mocking tweets and snarky headlines about Trump’s golf tangent, his manner of feeding koi fish, and his knowledge of the Japanese auto industry. This quickness to pile on the president, at the expense of policy analysis, illustrates a growing problem on the left. Liberals and their media allies are becoming knee-jerk anti-Trumpists, always on the lookout for the president’s next embarrassing, meme-able gaffe—and sometimes pouncing without getting their facts straight.”
This may not sound like the mea culpa that Trump supporters would love to hear from the biased, wretched media, but let’s face it: This is a huge admission from The New Republic, which is one of the most liberal outlets in America. Heer himself admits that he couldn’t resist joining in the chorus of jeers that told Americans that Trump didn’t know the Japanese made cars in America before fact-checking himself and realizing…oh right, he does know. And in the same speech for which Trump was being mocked and laughed at, he made that perfectly clear.
“Complaints about ‘gotcha journalism’ are probably as old as journalism itself, but before the internet, there was at least time for fact-checkers to review the entire video or read the full quote,” Heer laments. “Today, in the social-media age, users race to be first with humor or outrage—the truth be damned.”
Heer is not calling on his fellow liberals to “give Trump a chance” or to – heaven forbid – actually provide this White House with some positive press. But even for him to admit that the “pile on” mentality is counterproductive and only feeding into the country’s growing disdain for the media is a fundamental and important step forward. If the media – both avowed liberal sources like The New Republic and less-avowed sources like CNN – can just stop trying to “get” Trump at every waking hour, we’ll be a damned sight closer to a responsible world of journalism than we have been in at least two years.
Frankly, though, we’re not holding our breath.