For a moment, imagine the reaction of The New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, and the rest of the mainstream news outlets if, in a fit of frustration, a Fox News reporter suggested at any time that the military stage a coup against President Barack Obama. Just imagine it. It would be the story of the year. Cries of racism would echo to the moon and back. Long, thoughtful articles would be written about the radicalization of the right-wing media, the history of violence against the American presidency, and the irresponsibility of Fox News. The reporter who made the remark would be shamed out of the business and forced to go raise rabbits or grow strawberries for the rest of his life, far away from the public eye.
Well, do you see anything like that happening today? Anything at all? No, of course not. Because the target is Trump and the writer is a liberal news hack from The New Yorker. Therefore, somehow, it’s perfectly okay.
On Sunday, writer Hendrik Hertzberg, remarking on the dumb “Trump told Americans to inject Lysol into their veins” story that won’t go away, tweeted: “Time for a military coup?”
After this reckless remark drew predictable backlash, Hertzberg got cute, defending himself with this: “As somebody or other once said, I was being … sarcastic.”
This, of course, was also a reference to DisinfectantGate; Trump said that his original remarks were sarcasm, and that he was simply testing the media to see if they would run with it.
Now look, we’re not really in the mood to defend Trump’s original musings. They were…odd. But the reaction to it has been so far out of proportion that you can’t help to come back and sympathize with the president. The media grabs hold of these stupid non-stories and chews them until there’s nothing left but scraps and bloody tendons. If they would exercise even a little bit of restraint, their reports on this one might have actually stuck. Like we said…it was a weird bit of nonsense, and Trump should probably refrain from thinking out loud like that in the future.
But really, Lysol sends out a tweet telling people not to inject bleach into themselves? Trump wasn’t even talking about that kind of disinfectant. It was clear at the time (well, to the extent that anything about what Trump said was clear) that the president was talking about UV light, not Clorox bleach.
And the idea that this calls for a military coup? We get that Hertzberg was just posturing for the annoying masses on Twitter, but that’s a bit far. If the Secret Service were to investigate this, we wouldn’t be opposed.