Crooked Media, founded earlier this year by former Obama-admin staffers Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor, recently expanded its efforts to help “get [liberals] through this roiling clusterfuck of a presidency.” One of Crooked Media’s new hires is editor-in-chief Brian Beutler, formerly of Salon and The New Republic. In a Tuesday piece, Beutler contrasted the liberals' handling of the recent ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger with conservatives' treatment of the 2012 Benghazi attack, arguing that the difference “illustrates a fundamental characterological difference between the American left and the American right.”
Deliberately polluting the air with high-volume diesel exhaust isn’t just a pastime for nihilists -- it’s an expression of “the key animating ethos in the decision-making process” of the Republican Party, claims Brian Beutler. The activity is known as “rolling coal,” and, as Beutler sees it, three years ago it resembled “many Obama-era protest trends” in that it was “a kind of obnoxious primal scream, indulged by an increasingly powerless subset of the population.”
In “Me and Bobby McGee,” Kris Kristofferson wrote that “freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” On Wednesday, Brian Beutler suggested that “freedom” is just another word Republicans use to deprive Americans of health coverage. The GOP, contended Beutler, has “a weird way to define liberty” that involves 14 million people losing coverage “almost immediately.” He added, “Their conception of liberty and freedom [is] exceptionally callous.”
In their respective articles alleging that the mainstream media facilitated the election of Donald Trump, Brian Beutler of The New Republic and Eric Alterman of The Nation overlapped somewhat. For example, each claimed that the Hillary e-mail story was wildly overcovered, with Beutler citing it as the shining example of how the media “failed abysmally” regarding the “framing and contextualizing of events.” Elsewhere, the two pundits diverged. Beutler singled out the media’s fascination, in the last ten days of the campaign, with Trump’s staying on message when they should have been pointing out that “on every single one of those days, he was saying outrageous and false things at a dizzying clip.” What Liberal Media? author Alterman took a long-term view, contending that relentless lobbying from the right has paid off in the form of lax treatment from the media: “There’s no truth to [the] contention that network coverage has been unfair to Trump; quite obviously, the reverse is true. But conservatives learned long ago that there’s no limit to the effectiveness of their “work the refs” strategy, with the networks bending over further and further to placate their demands.”
There’s been a lot of talk in the past few days about “presidential temperament,” and where that quality is concerned, Brian Beutler firmly believes that President Obama has the right stuff. In a Friday piece, Beutler lauded Obama’s "unflappable" performance at CNN’s military-themed presidential town hall Wednesday at Fort Lee in Virginia. By contrast, Beutler opined, Donald Trump "lost his composure about 15 minutes into the first presidential debate." And if Hillary Clinton can so easily throw Trump off his game, Beutler suggested, then who knows what Putin might accomplish?
A current hot topic in campaign coverage is Hillary Clinton’s underperformance among millennials, an unusually large number of whom favor the second-tier candidates, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Brian Beutler thinks those 18-to-29-year-olds who aren’t #WithHer don’t grasp what happened the last time a significant portion of the left was lukewarm about the Democratic nominee: 2000, when lefty votes for Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the White House. Should some millennials’ non-support of Clinton lead to a Donald Trump presidency, argued Beutler, “it will be the consequence of a liberal failure to build an oral tradition around the Bush administration…[the] plutocratic fiscal policy; the 9/11 intelligence failure; the war of choice in Iraq sold with false intelligence and launched without an occupation plan; the malpractice that killed hundreds in New Orleans; the scandalousness that makes the fainting couch routine over Clinton’s emails seem Oscar-worthy; and finally to the laissez-faire regulatory regime and ensuing financial crisis that continues to shape the economic lives of young voters to this day.”
Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” comment isn’t just campaign fodder, believes Brian Beutler, who in a Monday piece argued that by telling “impolite truths,” Clinton pulled an already-loose thread and may have furthered the unraveling of the GOP. Assuming Donald Trump doesn’t become president, some Republicans will “wish to dislodge Trump and Trumpism from the party,” observed Beutler, but he doesn’t think they’ll succeed if they underestimate the prevalence of bigotry among Trump’s supporters. Unfortunately, he noted, “anti-Trump conservatives remain uncomfortable admitting the scope and severity of America’s racism problem.” In other words, for those conservatives to achieve their goal, they’ll have to concede that Hillary’s allegation was essentially correct.
Complaints from liberal pundits about media bias against Hillary Clinton have snowballed during the past few days. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had the most high-profile effort, which contrasted “the impression that [Donald Trump is] being graded on a curve” with “the presumption that anything [Hillary] does must be corrupt,” and some of the others have taken aim at Krugman’s newspaper for its Hillary-hounding. For example, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo sniped semi-sarcastically that the Times “appears to be revisiting its 'whitewater' [sic] glory days with its increasingly parodic coverage” of the Clinton Foundation and accused the paper of having “a decades' long history of being [led] around by rightwing opposition researchers into dead ends which amount to journalistic comedy…especially when it comes to the Clintons.”
This past Monday in TNR, Eric Kleefeld had a message for self-satisfied liberals: Don’t apologize for your smugness. Own it. Why not? You’ve “been right all along” about Donald Trump’s candidacy. Kleefeld wrote that “Republican voters this year behaved exactly as the smuggest liberal would’ve predicted, supporting a race-baiting pseudo-strongman who is basically an outgrowth of the conservative infotainment complex.”
Plenty of Republicans have been lamenting their party’s nomination of “the one guy who cannot beat the historically unpopular Hillary Clinton,” but Gary Legum thinks they’re assuming facts not in evidence. In a Friday article, Legum indicated that Hillary would have been a prohibitive favorite against anyone the GOP might have chosen. He opined that the Republicans’ so-called deep bench was a mirage and argued, "For the GOP to nominate someone capable of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016, it would have had to have been a completely different GOP since at least 1992. And if that GOP existed, Clinton would not be a weak and unpopular figure, because she would not have spent 25 years being hit with every ridiculous charge under the sun."
The day before Donald Trump reflected on “Second Amendment people” and their response to Hillary Clinton’s taste in judges, he made news with a speech about economics. To The New Republic’s Brian Beutler, the takeaway there was that Trump had “adopted [both] Paul Ryan’s tax policy and the GOP’s gaffe-centered 2012 campaign strategy of misquoting or misrepresenting the Democratic candidate’s words.” Beutler argued that the two were related since Trump, “vulnerable to criticism from Hillary” on tax issues, has taken the offensive by lying about Clinton’s tax proposals -- specifically, by “claim[ing] that she pledged to raise middle-class taxes."
Donald Trump may have hijacked the Republican party, suggests Beutler, but he hasn’t changed its bigoted course -- he’s just put the pedal to the metal. Trump’s campaign has made clear, “even among many conservatives who once denied it,” that “millions of white people believe it’s important to rally behind politicians who support policies that directly or indirectly penalize minorities—and that those politicians happen to be members of one party.” But even if Trump gets routed in November, argued Beutler in a Tuesday article, “the incentives in Republican politics would still point to race-baiting, conspiracy peddling, and appeals to white-male grievance as useful tools of political battle.”