The Breakfast Table

Reckless Gossip Merchants vs. Media Hand-Wringers

Evan:

I’d love to add something even meaner to your description of Donald Trump–he’s the sort of person I want to keep kicking once he’s down–but I don’t think I can. You’ve said it all: He is the single most repulsive person on the planet. What a wonderfully pithy, accurate sentence. Congratulations.

That said, I still plan to write about him some time. I don’t think I’ll be able to help it. Horrible as he is (or perhaps because he is so horrible), Trump is interesting, or at least more so than most candidates. Michael Lewis took a lot of crap from more serious-minded political reporters in 1996 for devoting so much ink to Morry Taylor, the drunken tire salesman from Michigan who made a brief, self-financed run for the Republican nomination. The idea was, Morry Taylor is irrelevant. Why waste readers’ time writing about him?

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One part of me agrees: Morry Taylor barely rose to the level of sideshow. And there’s no reason to feed the ego of every rich guy who decides to inflict his mid-life crisis on American voters. That’s the sober, responsible part of me speaking. The much larger part–the part that once wrote a piece about Monica Lewinsky’s sex therapist–feels differently. For one thing, following Trump around would likely be amusing as hell. I plan to start the interview by sneezing repeatedly into my palm, then trying to shake his hand. Guaranteed lede right there. (I can already see it in print: “Donald Trump is afraid of cooties.”) For another, Trump’s candidacy, and the Reform Party generally, reflects a larger, important trend in politics, and may be the surest sign yet that ideology as a force in national elections is dead.

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Wow. Did I just write that last sentence? Pardon me. Let me take that back: The Reform Party isn’t a reflection of anything. They’re just a bunch of wackos with a Web site and federal matching funds. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time covering them.

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Now that I’ve revealed myself as essentially shallow and self-interested, let’s talk about Drudge. Has his time passed? I don’t know. I must admit I’m a bit torn here. I don’t think Drudge is obsessed with accuracy, and I never thought that giving him a television show sounded like a great idea. On the other hand, if there’s one thing that annoys me more than a reckless Internet gossip merchant, it’s self-appointed media watchdog hand-wringers who whine about reckless Internet gossip merchants. As if people need to be protected from Matt Drudge. As if readers don’t know the difference between the Drudge Report and the New York Times. As if anyone cares what a bunch of tight-assed media-studies dorks who work at think tanks nobody’s ever heard of and haven’t filed a story since the Ford Administration think of the State of American Journalism Today. As if … I could go on, and on. But I’ll spare you. Just remind me not to get started on Steve Brill.

Best,
Tucker

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