By Paul Krugman – The New York Times.
The last month has been a disgraceful time for the news media, with headline after headline, news report after news report on supposed Clinton scandals that were obvious nothingburgers — as the Washington Post, I’m happy to say, has now acknowledged. All of this created an “aura of scandal” around Clinton, even though, as Greg Sargent notes, voters couldn’t come up with specifics when pressed.
And meanwhile, a simply incredible record of downplaying Trump’s extremism and his many real scandals.
For what it’s worth , my guess is that this would have happened even if Clinton hadn’t had a private server. For one thing, it was always been an obviously — obviously! — trivial story, so the overwhelming media pile-on reflected a desire to go after Clinton, not something objective. And the way that the Clinton Foundation — which, you know, saves the lives of children — was spun as a negative shows that if it hadn’t been for the emails the gang would have found something else to pretend was a scandal.
The good news, I think, is that we may have reached some sort of turning point. Matt Lauer may have done us all a favor with his catastrophically bad performance. By devoting so much time to emails and rushing through Clinton on ISIS, on one side, while letting Trump’s Iraq lie slide by unchallenged, on the other, Lauer offered a demonstration of the prevailing double standard so graphic that it was hard to ignore. But it wasn’t just Lauer: I think the accumulation of really bad examples, of failing to cover the Bondi bribe, of making an unsuccessful request for passports — to rescue imprisoned journalists! — a supposed scandal, even some of the botched initial reaction to the Lauer debacle, may have finally reached a critical mass.
So maybe, just maybe, this is a turning point. I’m not saying that Clinton will or should be exempt from criticism. All she and the country need is journalism that describes things as they really are, that doesn’t pretend that her human fallibility is as bad or worse than Trump’s record of terrible behavior and promise of more.
On the other hand, maybe nothing has been learned. Maybe the first debate will be full of question about emails, while Trump is allowed to lie freely. If so, weep for America.