Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Maddow goes too far

On her show tonight, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow aired an excerpt from an NBC News report that presumably will air at some point on NBC's own news programs. Maddow hammered home the point that Donald Trump was in the room when his father Fred allegedly told one of his employees that Fred's company didn't rent to "n***ers". According to that employee, who appeared on camera, Donald Trump also nodded in agreement when his father made that statement.

Donald Trump is a crummy human being, no question. But Maddow is trying to tie him to remarks his father made decades ago, and that's not right.

First, it was Fred Trump, not Donald, who made the inflammatory remark. Imputing guilt by association is a disreputable practice. It looks bad for Donald that he nodded in agreement, but he was fairly young, and a lot of us go along with our parents when we're young because we're not mature enough to disagree.

Second, to my mind, an ordinary candidate is allowed to do the same thing the rest of us do: grow up and learn. I try not to hold people's youthful mistakes against them unless they really invite it by being aggressively moralistic about others. Trump is no ordinary candidate, of course, yet for all his faults, he hasn't made his own virtue a hallmark of his campaign.

Finally, you don't have to dig up decades-old stories of shameful behavior to make the point that Donnie is a crummy human being. He makes that point for us every day, in ways that shock and appall us. Yet I can loathe him without holding him to a higher standard than I do everyone else.

Was Donnie a crummy human being when he was young? The evidence I've seen suggests he was. Yet that's not nearly as important to me as the daily parade of unedited video that tells us he still is.

So while it may feel great to pile more and more of his past on Donnie's orange head, it doesn't lend luster to Rachel Maddow or MSNBC to pile on with this story.

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