Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius once wrote: The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
Those profound words, written nearly two thousand years ago, could speak to Donald Trump’s path to the White House. From the beginning of his campaign, Trump has had an interesting relationship with the media. Without non-stop coverage, he would have never risen to defeat his 16 Republican rivals in the primaries. At the same time, that coverage has been almost exclusively negative. The media has painted him as an extremist, a sexist, a racist, an ignoramus, and a con artist.
And just when you think they couldn’t possibly go lower, they prove that their capacity for deception and bias is without boundaries.
On Sunday night, Trump and Hillary Clinton engaged in the second of three presidential debates, and this one was even more explosive than the first. With Trump’s Access Hollywood tape hanging over the event, the stage was set for a knock-down, drag-out battle royale; the candidates’ refusal to shake hands at the beginning of the debate was a preview of what was to come.
“Stunning” is the only word that can describe some of their exchanges. By the time the night was over, Trump had called Bill Clinton a serial abuser of women, Hillary had lied again about her emails, and many Americans were probably left to wonder what had happened to our once proud democracy.
For anyone in that crowd, don’t try to find the answers in Trump or Clinton. Instead, look to the moderators.
Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz made Lester Holt look like a paragon of objective journalism with their shamelessly biased performance. If they had come out with “Stronger Together” shirts on, their allegiances would have been no more transparent. When Raddatz confronted Trump on the situation in the Middle East, it made you long for the days of Candy Crowley.
In that exchange, Trump mentioned that it was bad policy for the U.S. to announce military strikes ahead of time.
“Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking Mosul within the next four to six weeks, which is what they’re saying? How stupid is our country?” Trump said.
Instead of letting Hillary respond, Raddatz decided to make herself part of the debate.
“There are sometimes reasons the military does that,” she said. “Psychological warfare.”
“I can’t think of any,” Trump said. “And I’m pretty good at it.”
Raddatz, apparently forgetting that she wasn’t running for president, refused to give Trump the last word.
“It might be to help get civilians out,” she speculated.
The actual content of the exchange doesn’t matter; Trump could have opined that the ocean should be a different color and it wouldn’t require an argument from the moderators. It’s not their place to spar with the candidates.
But such is the world where the media is ready to destroy the monster they helped create. And the harder they try, the better Trump’s chances of victory become.