Watching Brian Williams get a half-chub on live television while reporting on the Syrian missile strike was one of the most surreal moments in American history.
Uh, Brian, you do know these missiles hit the ground, right? And that they blow up when they do – that they’re not fireworks? Because, if so, I’d say giving yourself a handjob underneath the news desk while they travel through the air to go explode people is in poor taste. Not to mention, you’re kind of acting like this is all totally normal, and overlooking the biggest problem of all…
These are tomahawk missiles being fired at a country we are not at war with by a fucking reality TV host. And yes, this particular reality TV host happens to be the president of the United States, but he also happens to be the president of the United States who is under investigation by the FBI. And you might want to mention that when reporting on a conflict that that involves Trump (the person single-handedly initiating this conflict who is also under investigation), Russia (the country that is making this conflict complicated and is also heavily implicated in the investigation), and Syria (the place you’re so stoked about bombing).
So, I’m sorry (not sorry) for interrupting your weird, Leonard-Cohen-quoting, climax – but you why don’t you do your job instead of the job of a dead troubadour? (By the way – does he do this with women too? *gets close to finishing* “SHE BROUGHT ME TEA AND ORANGES!!!”) Whether or not you think the people being bombed are “good” or “bad” – we’re still being forced to kill people – and that means it’s probably not the best time to start spouting off song lyrics that you don’t even understand in a sad attempt to make this whole thing seem profound. I mean, for real, you’re like one of those people who watches Scarface and thinks it’s a good idea to start selling cocaine.
I fully understand that most of us collectively decided that Brian Williams was terrible like two years ago – so it might not come as a surprise that he said something dumb – but, he wasn’t the only one hyping this attack. Not by any means. This just happened to be the most sensational example of what the media has become when it comes to war – a bunch of cheerleaders who are more excited about the possibility of higher ratings, more attention, and opportunities to seem “important”, than about telling us about the actual facts and policies informing our country’s decisions.
That’s a nice way of saying that this current crop of newscasters are a bunch of people who weren’t attractive to be actors. And new wars are like their equivalent of those Oscar-bait movies where there’s a chance to play a mentally handicapped person – they just can’t fucking resist. They’re ready to powder their noses for a close-up with no regard for the potential powder kegs they might be setting off. Meanwhile, a real journalist like Dan Rather is having a nervous fucking breakdown on Facebook everyday.
The media falls for a good war every time; always making it the perfect cover for everything else. They can’t resist their time in the spotlight, and so everything around it darkens. And Trump knows this. He knows they can’t resist a good story, and so he’s continuously tried to give them the biggest one he could find from the moment he announced his candidacy. He’s played them like a fiddle since the election began – and gotten billions of dollars in free publicity and an inexcusable victory in the process.
You would think the media would have learned some kind of lesson from this, but they haven’t. It just keeps working! It was only last week (before these missile strikes) that the media conversation was about his troubling ties Russia, the fact that he failed to roll out healthcare, and that he was mentally unfit to be president. Now, he shoots some shiny shit into the sky, and everyone in the media starts clapping like a bunch of babies with car keys jingling in front of them. I mean, holy hell.
Look, the situation in Syria is complicated. (This is one of the best [and shortest] videos I’ve seen that can help explain the situation. But, generally, I wouldn’t recommend Vox.)
It’s what my grandfather would call a “quagmire” – and what I would call a “giant clusterfuck” (we are not the greatest generation). So, I get that it’s not necessarily the most fun thing to talk about. But we have to. And if you want to have a debate about whether or not the US has a responsibility to intervene in these kinds of situations, I’m all for it. It’s clear that a lot media members thought this was right thing to do (proven by their standing ovations). But, come on, this thing didn’t happen in a vacuum. And, talking about it like it did is a pretty short-sided way of looking at this, don’t you think? I mean, it kind of completely ignores the fact that:
1) We barely have all the facts about what happened in Syria. For instance, in 2014, the Obama administration said that Assad had given up his chemical weapons arsenal.
2) We have no plan – because Trump didn’t offer one.
3) There was no Congressional approval for this attack. Which means that there was zero discussion/debate from the people’s representatives about whether or not this was something we even wanted to do (*cough* unconstitutional *cough*). We’re talking about an airstrike that could have major implications here – like a proxy war with Russia (or an actual one for that matter) – and we don’t even get a say in it? Okay, cool.
4) It completely ignores the fact that Trump’s vocal stance on Syria – that he would not intervene – might have emboldened Assad to use chemical weapons in the first place. Trump tweeted like 8000 times that he thought America should not get involved, and unfortunately, they have Twitter in Syria.
And 5… What was 5 again?
5) HE’S STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE FBI.
So, again, media members – please tell me how this was a good move by President Trump?
Just because he arrived at a final destination you agree with doesn’t mean that how he got there is correct. I mean, I could get in my car and successfully arrive at the grocery store, but if I hop the curb and kill everyone on the sidewalk on the way there that’s not really a successful shopping trip, is it? If you watched the news that night, you would’ve certainly been led to believe in that measure of success. (“Don’t mind all the blood on the sidewalk here… Just come inside and look at all these shiny aisle displays! Ooooh, so many bargains! Oooooh!”)
This was from people on both sides of the aisle (the political one, not the grocery one). Some of whom I even consider to be reasonable. And that’s why this was so disappointing. In reality, it changed nothing about Trump – but if you had watched the coverage – they would have led you to believe that it changed everything.
The mainstream media would have led you to believe it was the right move – it wasn’t. Not the way it happened. Not by this president.
FOX News would’ve had led you to believe it proved Trump’s innocence when it came to his ties with Russia. It didn’t. This changes absolutely nothing about the facts we have regarding what happened during the election, and about his administration’s problematic business ties to Russia.
(SIDE NOTE: First of all, Trump is exactly the type of person who would fuck over someone who helped him if it meant saving his own ass. I don’t know much – but I know that. And, so even if Russia helped him win the election [which it did] and he knew about it [which if it goes to Federal Court means there’s about an 80-90% chance he did] – I have no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t hesitate to fire off 59 missiles if it meant muddying the waters over his connections to Putin. Whether Putin liked it or not. And if this airstrike means getting into a proxy war with Russia – so be it. It costs Trump nothing [I don’t think Jared Kushner will be putting on a uniform for real] – and, if anything, might help boost his absolutely dismal approval ratings.
Second of all, there’s a very likely scenario in which this whole situation plays out just like [I believe] Trump and Russia hoped it would all along. Some people might say I’m reaching here, but I just want to go on record – there’s a world in which Trump and Russia flex their muscles at each other over Syria and then the Donald gets to make a deal that ends up making him look like a hero. That deal would find Russia pulling its support for Assad and his murderous regime, a global crisis being averted, and oh – what do you know – the sanctions on Russia being lifted and we’re all total besties now! Maybe that’s a bit too conspiratorial – I’d be willing to have that conversation – but I would also be surprised exactly 0.0% if this is how it ends up playing out. And I want to be able to say “I knew it!” when it does.)
And finally, every single media outlet would’ve led you to believe that this entire, incredibly complicated situation could be boiled down into an easily digestible story like the kind you’d see anywhere else on TV. That this whole thing had a narrative with the kind of simple characters, clear motives, and clean outcomes you’d find in your favorite Sunday night series. It didn’t.
So far, the only thing that’s clear about Trump’s attack on Syria is that it’s playing out exactly like he hoped it would – that it’s making all the other super shitty stuff he’s doing seem less important, and less worthy of our time, energy, and focus. And our media is falling for it, and failing us, by not pointing out that this missile strike changes nothing. Trump is still the stupid, lying, uninformed asshat that he was back when he was hosting a reality TV show.
This is not the beginning of some profound, new chapter in the Trump presidency. To me, it’s yet another entry into a much older story that’s we’ve been writing for some time now. It’s the story about how Americans love war. And how time and time again, over the last 40 years, we’ve been willing to throw away our rights, so we can pick up our weapons for a fight. It’s yet another sad example of how quick we are to forget about what matters, so that we can fall in line for our new favorite pastime – some good ol’ fashion bloodshed.
So, media – listen – the world is not the television show you’re trying to turn it into. This is not Season 2017 of “Earth”, the Emmy Award-winning cable drama. This is real life, you stupid dicks. And, if you keep trying to turn it into entertainment, then you’re going to end up living in a story that doesn’t have such a happy ending. It’s a story where Americans have to admit that we no longer have the moral high-ground, because we simply love the spectacle of violence too much. And it’s a story with a big surprise twist – it turns out that we’re the bad guys after all.