‘Partisans for Democracy’

I think there was some discussion around here a few days back about Dana Milbank’s WaPo column on the media’s “both sides” problem. Here’s an excerpt:

In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid-19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the “big lie,” the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office.

And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today. Sure, Biden has had his troubles, with the delta variant, Afghanistan and inflation. But the economy is rebounding impressively, he has signed major legislation, and he has restored some measure of decency, calm and respect for democratic institutions.

We need a skeptical, independent press. But how about being partisans for democracy? The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative. And we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians.

Milbank’s column apparently struck a nerve. Some of his critics raised legit questions, such as if the methodology used to parse the tenor of the coverage makes sense. But some of the pushback from horserace Beltway outfits unintentionally proved Milbank’s point. Here’s a representative sample from a protracted slap-fight on Twitter between Milbank and Politico’s Ryan Lizza:

Speaking of partisans for democracy, here’s good (breaking) news, also from WaPo:

Justice Dept. sues Texas over state redistricting maps, citing discrimination against Latinos

The Justice Department on Monday sued Texas for the second time in a month over new voting laws, this time alleging that Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Latinos and other minorities when they approved new congressional and state legislature districts that increased the power of White voters.

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s announcement marked the department’s first major legal action on redistricting at a time when Democrats have warned that GOP-controlled state legislatures are seeking to improperly redraw voting precincts to aid Republican candidates ahead of the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election.

“This is not the first time Texas has acted to minimize the voting rights of its minority citizens. Decade after decade, Texas has enacted redistricting plans that violate the Voting Rights Act,” the Justice Department said in its lawsuit. “In enacting its 2021 Congressional and House plans, the State has again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans.”

I needed to hear that today because a Bart Gellman piece in The Atlantic about the possibility of the Trump cult pulling off a coup in 2024 had me feeling pessimistic. It’s a long piece but worth a read.

We’ll need law enforcement pushback from the feds and action from lawmakers. The press has its role to play too. Milbank is a mixed bag, but we need more epiphanies like his because the danger is real.

Open thread.

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