By Peter Daou and Tom Watson
Andrea Mitchell asked a guest on her MSNBC show: “How much can Donald Trump get away with saying offensive things about women?”
As much as you and your cohorts let him, Andrea.
Just imagine if Mitchell and her colleagues in the media and elite commentariat devoted one tenth the time they spend obsessing over Hillary Clinton on Trump’s transgressions. Imagine endless panels on Morning Joe mocking him, bashing him, accusing him of being unethical and corrupt, demanding that he apologize.
Envision the same level of disdain, the sneering, the gloating. Picture breathless commentary about how awful Trump is, how he is failing and his campaign is flailing. Imagine describing Trump with words like “Machiavellian, Lovecraftian, slithering, monstrous, imperious, musty, petulant, paranoid, stale, scornful, regal, devious, deceitful, abnormal, disingenuous, egregious, crafty, sketchy, seamy, Faustian, robotic, queenly, suspicious, unsavory.”
Andrea Mitchell knows the answer to her own question. Trump will get away with anything and everything as long as he doesn’t get the Hillary treatment. He can spew sexist filth and smile while the first woman with a shot at the presidency gets verbally assaulted by the very gatekeepers who should be holding him accountable.
We remember when George W. Bush was constantly described as “firm, resolute, and straight-talking.” It took Hurricane Katrina to get Mitchell and her ilk to finally tell the truth about his incompetence. Look at what happened to his poll numbers after that grim reality check.
Here’s a thought experiment to illustrate our point in a way Mitchell and her colleagues might understand.
What would this respectful New York Times article about Trump sound like if it were written as a Hillary Clinton story?
It would go something like this…
Actual headline: Donald Trump Finds Defenders and Detractors among Conservatives.
Hillary treatment: Donald Trump Polarizes Republicans
Actual sentence: There are many ways that Donald J. Trump is an improbable fit as the Republican standard-bearer.
Hillary treatment: There are many ways that Donald J. Trump is disliked by the Republican base.
Actual sentence: Then there were his irreverent remarks on how Holy Communion was his way of asking God to forgive him — not that he had anything to be sorry for.
Hillary treatment: Then there were his divisive and offensive remarks on how Holy Communion was his way of asking God to forgive him — not that he had anything to be sorry for.
Actual sentence: For some of them, Mr. Trump’s Manhattan lifestyle, his celebration of decadence, his lack of humility and religiosity make him seem alien to their lives and their values.
Hillary treatment: For some of them, Mr. Trump’s unseemly lifestyle, his Faustian behavior, his arrogance, elitism and lack of principle make him seem machine-like and alien.
Actual sentence: Anti-abortion groups have denounced him, saying he appeared to be hedging in a way that seems antithetical to the Trump straight talk his supporters admire.
Hillary treatment: Anti-abortion groups have denounced him, saying he would say or do anything to win and that his position was typical of his petulance and his defiant mindset.
Actual sentence: Religion and spirituality do play a role in his life, Mr. Trump insists, even if he does not wear his church affiliation (Presbyterian) on his sleeve.
Hillary treatment: Pandering to supporters, Mr. Trump pretends that religion and spirituality do play a role in his life, even if he does not wear his church affiliation (Presbyterian) on his sleeve.
Actual sentence: He also barely touches alcohol. And he has been active in philanthropy since his early days as a New York developer.
Hillary treatment: He also tries to conceal his advanced age by avoiding alcohol. And he has been active in philanthropy to garner favor with special interests since his early days as a New York developer working on questionable land deals.
Actual sentence: He was known to occasionally send money to down-on-their-luck people he had read about in the newspaper.
Hillary treatment: He was known to occasionally send money to down-on-their-luck people he had read about in the newspaper to create a false appearance of humanity.
Actual sentence: Mr. Trump’s reputation as a ruthless fighter is something that is appealing to Christian conservatives who believe their way of life is under constant assault.
Hillary treatment: Mr. Trump’s reputation as devious, ruthless and vindictive is something that is appealing to Christian conservatives who believe their way of life is under constant assault and who want to vote for a Machiavellian candidate.
Get it, Andrea Mitchell?
[NOTE: We chose a particularly bad photo of Trump to further illustrate how the media portray Hillary using unflattering shots.]
Peter Daou and Tom Watson founded #HillaryMen to provide actionable analysis of the 2016 campaign focusing on the gender barrier in U.S. politics. Peter is a former senior digital adviser to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative. He is a veteran of two presidential campaigns (Kerry '04 and Clinton '08). Tom is an author and Columbia University lecturer who advises companies and non-profits on social activism.