One progressive (me) vs. three conservatives talk about Donald Trump and the media, with references to my book, Fake News in Real Context.
Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, Joshua Green, author; Fred Sanders, narrator This was a difficult book to focus on because the message seemed preplanned simply to demonize the current President, Donald Trump, using Steve Bannon as the means to that end. In addition, as Bannon’s background and life wre explored, the author seemed intent on creating an evil human being, ignoring the positive side of his life. He is presented as ever eager to hurt and bully anyone with whom he came in contact, ruthless in his tactics and oblivious to the ordinary rules of decent conduct in his pursuits. The book is entitled, The Devil’s Bargain, and the author set out to make Steve Bannon the devil incarnate. I had hoped he would present a fairer picture of an election gone awry, but, instead, I was overwhelmed by the heavy-handed hit piece presented. It was filled with propaganda provided by the left leaning pundits and many innuendos that seemed to come from half- truths in order to present the progressive in a more positive light, ignoring their many conflicts, and corrupt behavior. He was intent on making the right seem deplorable in the way they were depicted by someone he respects highly, Hillary Clinton. When describing the activities of Breitbart and Bannon, he used a term coined by Hillary Clinton which became popular. Suddenly, the left was populated by a group called the alt-right, but those on the right had no idea what that term actually meant. Clinton succeeded in hijacking the term and making it stick while she ignored what could be called the alt-left which represented her side of the aisle, Occupy Wall Street, Antifa, the undocumented who have committed a crime to get into this country. Joshua Green was only too happy to point fingers at the right while disregarding the heinous behavior of the left. Calling the alt-right white supremacists, religious zealots, and members of the rich and elite, he advanced the progressive rhetoric as if it was actual fact, much to the consternation of those conservatives who did not consider themselves a part of that group, and yet they represented Clinton’s opposition, in essence, her enemies. When describing the right he used negative terms, but when describing the left and their tactics he described them in a positive way. So Hillary was being clever and Obama was logical, but Bannon grinned wickedly and Trump was unhinged. Even though it is now even more broadly known that the Democrats used underhanded tactics in the campaign, cheated and lied, he glossed over their misdeeds and their illegal behavior. Instead he used highly charged descriptions of anything representing conservatives in what seemed like an attempt to make the reader fear and dislike them. He used terms that the left used frequently to defame those they didn’t like. They call comments dog whistles and the GOP racist so often that they risk reducing the impact of the words with overuse. Green referred to the “fringe” element that has taken over the GOP, but never spoke negatively about the “fringe” element of the left that has infiltrated and changed the progressive agenda and the Democrat’s focus, that has caused chaos in their party. To be fair, the book is not about Clinton and her dishonest cohorts, but it is hard to believe that a book concerned with the participants on the right, in the 2016 Presidential campaign, would so briefly mention the concerns about the opposing party on the left, even if only to compare them justly to make an honest point. It felt like fake news even when the truth was presented because of the obvious biased slant of the presentation of “the facts”. Oddly, at one point, the author even seemed to be praising Paul Manafort, recently indicted, for his effort to try to tame Donald Trump’s behavior. The author seemed to grasp at any straw to defame the current President and his supporters, and I fear that many of his accusations will not prove out, but the damage will be done because it is now in print. People do not often check the facts presented if they agree with the point that is made. It seemed odd to me that he went after the wealthy Mercers, suggesting nefarious circumstances in their support of Trump, but Green never went after George Soros who may have used nefarious methods to invest vast sums of money into the DNC, using a multitude of groups associated with him, creating a maze which makes it difficult to trace the origin of the donations. He poured money into the DNC in support of Clinton, even as the left complained about the money poured into the coffers of the GOP. He painted Bannon’s methods as ruthless but glossed over the fact that the left actually incited the violence at Trump rallies and worked actively to defeat Sanders and prop up Clinton who was even provided some debate questions, in advance, to enable her to perform better than her opposition on the stage. I deduced that this was basically nothing more than a “trash trump” exercise in book form. In the attempt to make Hillary a saint and Donald a devil, the left worked hard, but failed to secure the election. Although they demonized Trump for some classless comments, they forgave Clinton for his actual classless behavior against women. The electorate rejected the hypocrisy. They condemned Trump for anything they could think of; he is a germophobe, he is wily and a product of a racist upbringing, he is guilty of sexually harassing women. He is a loose cannon and an anti-semite given to hyperbole. These are just some of the names he has been called while the sins of his opposition were either ignored or not hammered day after day into the public arena. Obama, is described as measured, logical and sophisticated even as he interfered in a Presidential campaign which former Presidents are loath to do; and Hillary was presented as a champion of progressive causes, neither a liar nor a schemer. The message from the author is so full of propaganda and the agenda of the left that the book, which could have been informative seemed to simply be a hit piece with the sole purpose of destroying the sitting President and those that associate with him. The author is very guilty of presenting a partisan view which I found to be extremely unfair and prejudicial. The left’s attempt to explain why Hillary lost is getting to be a very tired subject. She lost because Americans didn’t want her to win!
And already available wre:
The ending of this book tells why this author wrote this book. I found it one of the less compelling parts of this books, which is one reason I'm not going to spoil this book. The other is that I found this book important and still timely, and so I'm going to hope that someone might read this to find out why the author wrote this book.
I've agreed with, and disagreed with, the author, but I think he'd approve. He doesn't want everyone to agree, even with him, but rather to listen to what they say, agree with what they can, and then present the opposition reasonably. My disagreement with the author was a minor one, about whether or not people vote for Trump and not be racist. I don't believe this is possible, and the brief mention in this book doesn't make it clear, although it seemed to indicate that the author believes that they can vote for Trump and not be racist. I think the term 'racist' - and 'bigoted' - weren't as well defined as they should have been, especially given how they were used in this context. Given that the author delves into great detail about the definitions of ass-clown and asshole, and the differences between the two, I found it especially galling that he didn't break down whether he was talking about being actively racist or racist in that they supported someone who was so obviously racist, thus condoning his behavior. Then when you read his biography, and see his credentials, and the fact that he is a professor and chair of philosophy and it seems especially odd that he wouldn't tackle that head on. (The end of the book, by the way, also touches upon something which may explain why he may not be prepared to call these people racists and bigots in public. I have my theory, and I feel for him if this is the case, but I still feel like it should be called out. In fact, this one issue is what knocked off half a star because it bothered me so much. Not only that he didn't say this out loud, but that combined with the fact that he didn't define exactly what he meant.)
That being said, this book gets more serious than funny at the end. Much of the humor comes from him debating topics that one normally wouldn't, like the example I gave of trying to analytically decide if Trump is an ass-clown or asshole. It's also heavier in the beginning. By the time I realized it wasn't funny anymore, I didn't care: it veered slowly into the realm of sobriety. I wouldn't have made it through this book if it weren't half-funny at first, and it was. (I also made a barista laugh this morning: she was already laughing and saying she had so much fun at her work, and I showed her the book and she started laughing again and made a point of having me show all her co-workers.) That being said, this lulled you into a sense of security with the humor up front.
There are hints of it later, but there's just enough humor mixed in with the analysis and seriousness at the beginning to keep this from being too depressing. I was so into what he was saying by the midway point, that I didn't realize how serious it was getting and by then? I just wanted to read more.
This has a little bit of a deeper analysis of trump, but it's honestly mixed in with a lot of common sense things that I hadn't thought of in that way. They were so obvious I didn't think about them, and somehow it clicked when I read them. I also went 'someone needed to say this.' I'm sure others have, but I read it here first.
I keep saying this book is 'still timely.' Allow me to explain: this was written while Trump was campaigning, and far before he got elected. It was trying to explain what life would be like under the rule of Trump. Not saying 'you have to vote this way' but just a more gentle 'this is what's happening, this is what he's like, do you really want this? Please think about it at least.' I couldn't read it pre-election because I was too nervous, so I picked it up after. One of the things I'm doing is refusing to bow to Trump's will; he wants me to believe he's all so fantastic, the best, always winning, and I refuse to be browbeaten into believing this narrative. Part of this is reading things that are truthful, or honest, or better yet both. Like this. Understanding Trump is important even after he's been elected, and while I don't have the perfect, or even near perfect, understanding of Trump, I certainly feel like I have a better understanding of Trump.
Furthermore, this was well researched, using multiple resources to back up the author's points. On Bullshit was referenced so often that I purchased it, and plan on reading it soon. I feel more knowledgeable, and not just about Trump.
Well worth reading, but not if you can't stomach this much Trump, no matter how much humor there is in the book. I understand why some people won't, or can't, read this book and I respect that. I found it morbidly fascinating and got to laugh at Trump being called an asshole/ass-clown hybrid - multiple times.