Is everyone properly disturbed yet?

Since November 8th we have seen a huge wave of hate crimes directed against Americans of the Muslim faith or of Hispanic/Latino descent; Nazi swastikas sprayed on walls and Jewish cemeteries; a church burned with “Vote Trump” graffitied on the burned remains.

Yet we also see the news media report on the so-called “Alt-Right” without so much calling them by their real name, Neo-Nazis. (Props to the AP for begging to differ.) In a bizarre contortion of professional objectivity, or perhaps cowed by the usual fears of the “liberal media” charge combined with potential lawsuit threats by the likes of Peter Thiel and the President Elect himself, news organizations take pains to refrain from calling obvious racist violence and intimidation for what it is. They use euphemisms like “white nationalism” or “populism” or “racially charged” — then fixate on the hip fashion sense, the neo-reactionary dress and Peaky Blinders hair cuts of the fascists.

The Washington press corp is currently struggling to gain access to the President Elect, who has taken to sidelining them after the election. They have long had a cozy, if sometimes contentious relationship with political elites, so they are a little put out by the sudden brush off. Such alienation may endear the petulant billionaire to his Twitter followers, who treat charges of “unfair” as the latest talking point memo. The American public holds the free press in pretty low regard (as they do the government, corporations, the police and most other institutions), so the press corps will be starved for sympathy. But Trump is playing an abuser’s game. He will grant them access only after they demonstrate proper fealty: witness how shook up the television news media appeared after he dressed them down in a private “off the record” meeting. Only his narcissistic need to play nice with his hometown paper compelled him to grant the New York Times a more respectful interview a few days later; or perhaps someone on his team (KellyAnne? Bannon? Hard to imagine) whispered in his ear the publicity advantages of appearing to act like a grown up with the fourth estate.

We will need a much more adversarial news media in the years to come. We could have used one during the massive disinformation campaign that led up to the Invasion of Iraq. A “total disaster” in the estimates of most people, including the Disaster That Is Trump himself. We can’t have them currying favor with him and his fascist minions. And we should demand that Nazis get called by their proper name, and called out on their violent actions.

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