America’s mainstream media still wants to save the GOP — but that’s impossible

America’s mainstream media still wants to save the GOP — but that’s impossible

Why is the centrist and center-left press more preoccupied with saving the Republican Party than are the GOP itself and its politically traumatizing right-wing media?  

Who do I mean by the centrist and center-left press? For instance, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Atlantic, all organizations employ adult journalists and columnists. Hell, let’s throw in CNN. 

Here are some recent examples, which should be considered in-kind contributions to the national Republican Party: 

Washington Post: “Republican 2024 contenders are doing it all wrong”

Post again: “Vivek Ramaswamy knows the trick to winning Republican votes”

Here are two articles on former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, latest entrant in the 2024 race. They have undoubtedly endowed him with more national visibility than have his own media appearances and tough-guy, anti-Trump talk: 

New York Times: “The Chris Christie Scenario”

Post: “Chris Christie is not in it to win it. His task is more important”

With no disrespect to Kaitlan Collins, I’ve yet to hear any cogent journalistic justification for CNN’s disastrous Trump town hall last month. But, hey, ratings: Maybe the method by which to save America from a second Trump term is to give him prime-time slots to lie, prevaricate and vent self-pity. I wonder whether CNN thought its mini-Waco might turn off enough Republican primary voters to reject Trump, in the interests of salvaging the party of Lincoln. 

Here’s another, a “save the GOP” love-fest in the Times, featuring a former spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee during John McCain’s 2008 campaign:  

“‘A Tim Scott Nomination Would Be a Nightmare for Joe Biden’: Our Columnists Weigh In on the G.O.P. Candidate”

And here’s a Times op-ed by Rich Lowry, editor in chief of National Review, which is currently anti-Trump and pro-Ron DeSantis — but will, predictably, “begrudgingly” support Trump if he’s the 2024 nominee, in order to (what else?) save America from a second Biden term: 

“He’s (DeSantis) Not Dead Yet”

Recent Times hire David French (who says he is a conservative but struggles to define what conservatism is) tweeted a 232-character jeremiad to the effect that there must be a Republican out there somewhere who can defeat Trump without resorting to anti-COVID vaccine hysteria. 

And here’s David Frum, from the Atlantic: 

“Never Again Trump”

Never again, David? You sure about that? 

GOP can’t be saved; it must be killed

Nowhere in all this adult punditry is an audacious, candid, intrepid recommendation: Put the Republican Party out of its misery. Kill it electorally. Finish it off. I mean not to bully these media companies; I subscribe to all of them (including Salon). 

Why will no one come out and say that? There are a few reasons. 

First, the press intellectualizes salvaging the GOP. Sure, there is a place for intellectual takes on the Republican Party, the conservative movement and our two-party system (which we’ve always had and always will). But a healthier two-party system will only arise after the GOP is mercy-killed. There are myriad opinions among progressives, liberals, moderates, independents, center-left and even center-right Americans as to what should be done with the GOP. It’s nearly impossible to get 10 to concur, much less 100-plus million. This endless “what to do?” cycle probably partly explains why centrist and left-of-center media is so concerned with the “who will save the GOP?” question. 

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

But whether the GOP can actually be saved is a question the center-left press mostly avoids, likely because prominent media outlets largely consumed by Democrat-leaning readers are internally obsessed, in their boardrooms and editorial rooms, with proving that they’re objective and free of “liberal bias.” 

Second, the centrist and left-center press analyzes the GOP voter base through an outside-looking-in lens. Its perspective is abstract and faux-scientific. Those reporters and editors have not lived a right-wing, politically traumatizing, mythological, fantastical, hysterical and paranoid existence. Members of the adult press have never consumed the nectar of the Republican Party’s false prophets, from Ronald Reagan to Trump; they have merely observed others imbibing it. Viewing Republican primary voters from the outside is like looking through a filthy, smeared window; no matter how smart you are, you can’t clearly see what’s on the other side. 

I immersed myself in the MAGA/Trump cult from 2015 to 2022, and congregated with Republican primary voters on a near-daily basis. I was a right-wing pundit. And I now wish I could have all 221 million seconds back. I sincerely adhered to many of the mythologies most GOP base voters adhere to, centered on  gays, sex and marriage; male Caucasian paranoia; Christian theocracy; the evil of Barack Obama; racial and ethnic animus; the sacredness of guns and the demonic nature of COVID vaccines. 

I immersed myself in the MAGA/Trump cult from 2015 to 2022, and congregated with Republican primary voters on a near-daily basis. I was a right-wing pundit. I wish I could have all 221 million of those seconds back.

I am not convinced that most GOP politicians actually believe the trauma-based conspiracies and mythologies they peddle, but they know that the party’s base voters are addicted to them. This dependency on fighting imaginary phantasms — which are  responsible for eroding our “values” and “culture” by making America browner, less Christian, more constitutionally equal and ever less heterosexual — is what unites GOP base voters. The trauma shapes the right’s identity politics, brought to them, oftentimes, by affluent Ivy League-educated Republican leaders. 

If David French, Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg and the editors, reporters and columnists at the Times and the Post spent a single evening with those I associated with for 7 years, methinks their “save the GOP” yearning would die a death that Lady Macbeth could hardly stand to look at. Furthermore, if the press spent more time speaking to those who are truly remorseful for supporting Trump, DeSantis and the GOP (such as myself — wink wink), other Americans would, unequivocally, better comprehend the irreversible malignancy that has enveloped the GOP. 

This malignancy cannot be cured

I do my best to avoid traumatizing language and rhetoric, but my empirical and experiential assessment of the GOP is that the malignancy now pervades throughout the entire body of the party. Consider this in medical terms: When that happens in the human body, there is no saving it — there is only preparing it for its departure from this world.

I promise you that virtually no Republican primary voters anywhere in the country are reading or writing editorials that wonder about who will save their party. For the most part, the people I formerly broke bread with want the GOP to die, because in their view it has become a nest of RINOs, Democrats Lite and globalists. 

So who, exactly, is the center-left press speaking to and attempting to persuade? Is it apolitical, general-election Republicans, who pay attention a month before the election every four years? Respectfully, most of them have never heard of the Atlantic, and wouldn’t read it on a dare. 

The media’s naïveté has gotten the better of them: GOP voters don’t just see the Times or Post as “librul,” biased media. They see them as longtime active conspirators with the Democratic Party, whose goal is to render white heterosexual Christians as Untouchables.

Sure, I know what the press will say: We need to be better than those who disdain us. As a former journalist myself, it’s what I’d expect intellectuals to say. But the inherent problem with “both sides” narratives is that they imply that both sides do something with approximately equal frequency. With politically-motivated violence, for example, there is no such equivalence; right-wing violent incidents vastly outnumber left-wing incidents. 

But the well-meaning adult media’s naïveté has gotten the better of them: Most GOP primary voters don’t just see the Times or Post as “librul,” biased media. They see them as longtime active conspirators with the Democratic Party, whose goal is to eradicate the GOP and render white heterosexual Christians as Untouchables in a newly “woke” political caste system. 

In fairness, there are some centrist or center-right organizations, such as The Bulwark, whose writers include former Weekly Standard writers and editors, who understand that the GOP is beyond salvation. But I suspect the site’s founder, Sarah Longwell, for all the compelling stories she has published, clings to an inner belief — even if planck-length—that just maybe the Republican Party can yet be saved. 

Trying to save the GOP is trying to pick up glass that has shattered into a billion pieces; the shards have embedded themselves into everything, making a clean-up a Sisyphean task. (In a future article, I hope to address America’s imminent political realignment, including the question of where the GOP’s fragments will go.) 

It’s true that miracles can happen when treating the terminally ill; but the hope of a miracle cure for the GOP ended when Donald Trump mocked John McCain in 2015 for having been captured in Vietnam. My mistake was that I remained a Trump supporter after that godawful statement, which maligned and disrespected not only McCain but every service member, past, present and future.  

Perhaps man’s most quixotic delusion is that we can save someone, or something; I am not speaking here of faith but of our earthly endeavors. Our centrist and left-center press, important and necessary as it is, is being led far astray by its hopeless fantasy of saving the GOP. 

Until last year, I remained hopeful that the press might wean itself  from its high doses of incessant Trump coverage. The futile “save the GOP” narrative is inextricably linked to the media’s addiction to the quotidian drama and trauma Trump produces day after day. 

The only pathway to saving our republic goes through the electoral mercy killing of the Republican Party, and the only savior is the one you see in the mirror. I do not seek to kill the GOP because I want a one-party nation; I seek to kill it because no other choice is acceptable. To our friends in the press: I hope you’ll join us, sooner rather than later. “Later” may be too late.

Read more

about the GOP’s current dilemma