Patterico's Pontifications

10/25/2018

New York Times Publishes Story Imagining Assassination Of Trump

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As we watch the flamethrowers of blame being lobbed from both sides of the aisle about whose incendiary rhetoric led to the ongoing bomb scares this week, and hear the rank hypocrisy coming from the Democrats and their leaders, I wanted to bring to your attention the immense double standard of our media. Quelle surprise, I know.

Several days ago, the New York Times asked 5 writers to submit stories that imagined what Trump’s next chapter might be:

Our focus here at the Book Review is on books and stories, but also on how the books being written and read reflect the world outside of books. And one of the biggest stories out there, of course, is the Mueller investigation and the relationship between Trump and Putin. It’s hard not to speculate about what might happen next. To that end, we thought: Who better than some of today’s most talented spy and crime novelists — Joseph Finder, Laura Lippman, Jason Matthews, Zoë Sharp and Scott Turow — to conjure possible outcomes?

The stories were published in the print edition of the New York Times the day after the pipe bomb was found in George Soros’ mailbox.

One story stands out as it angered a lot of readers.

In Zoe Sharp’s assassination fantasy, How It Ends, readers discover that she imagines a drunk Russian with a glitchy pistol assassinates the President of the United States. Of course readers know that the president in question is Trump, given the specified criteria outlined:

When it was time, he went downstairs, took his place in the lobby before the entourage appeared. The hotel staff had been lined up to see their boss, the president, go by. A few of them applauded. Most did not.

The president didn’t seem to notice. He waved, in his desultory fashion. The Secret Service agents clustered around him, ushered him toward the armored limo idling outside at the curb.

The Russian waited until they were a few steps past before he drew the gun. He sighted on the center of the president’s back, and squeezed the trigger.

The Makarov misfired.

The Secret Service agent at the president’s shoulder heard the click, spun into a crouch. He registered the scene instantly, drawing his own weapon with razor-edge reflexes.

Then comes the shock ending:

The Russian tasted failure. He closed his eyes and waited to pay the cost.

It did not come.

He opened his eyes. The Secret Service agent stood before him, presenting his Glock, butt first.

“Here,” the agent said politely. “Use mine. …”

Sigh. I hate cheap, button-pushing shock endings like this. But what I hate even more is playing the “What if this was Obama” game, but let’s do it anyway. First, we all know that the New York Times Book Review would never, ever solicit any story involving Barack Obama. Second, they would never in a million years publish How It Ends if it was about Obama’s assassination. The New York Times would take to their editorial pages in droves to condemn any story that remotely considered such an horrific event. They would also condemn both the writer and the outlet for their utter lack of discretion, their glorification of political violence, their incitement of violence, their tacit approval of the assassin being a sympathetic martyr, etc. That the New York Times Book Review never remotely considered soliciting anything similar about President Obama, tells us all we need to know. Not every president is fair game. Never have been, never will be. (But get your unbiased reporting from us anyway!)

It’s hard to ignore that Ms. Sharp not only sees the killing of this particular enemy as not only justified because it’s necessary, but also portrays it as something almost noble that will bring honor to the killer, and render him a martyr for the cause:

The Russian drank on alone. Throughout his career, he would have spent these hours going over the plan, the escape route. This time, there was no escape route — only honor. And death.

On top of everything else, if Ms. Sharp imagines that Secret Service agents are that unhinged and malleable, then I guess we really can assume that this is a humorous piece, meant to cause a gasp and a chuckle. Which is what she seems to want us to believe:

Back in August I received an email, out of the blue, from an editor at The New York Times, asking me if I would like to write a short story for the Book Review. The publication’s focus, the editor explained, was on how fiction reflected and related to the real world. And what better way to discover some of the more imaginative ways the current political situation might develop than to ask ‘some of today’s most talented spy and crime novelists—Joseph Finder, Laura Lippman, Jason Matthews, Zoë Sharp, and Scott Turow—to conjure possible outcomes?’

I think it was fortunate that I didn’t know until the stories were published this week who my fellow contributors were. I fear I might have been somewhat intimidated to realise I was going to be alongside such literary luminaries. Particularly as the idea I came up with required me to write with tongue wedged very firmly in cheek.

You be the judge.

My beef isn’t with Ms. Sharp as much as it with the paper of record. Ms Sharp wrote a disturbing, yet tight story with an economy of words and a little gotcha-twist at the end. I don’t know her from Adam. But I do know the New York Times and their hypocritical underpants are showing with their publication of Ms. Sharp’s story.

My beef is with the paper of record for their solicitation of such stories in general, and for choosing to make the editorial decision to publish this specific selection. If we had not been Lectured. To. Death. by society’s eternal nagging mother, the Gray Lady about civility, incendiary rhetoric, the evils of the GOP, and the dangers of Crosshairs and Targets, Oh My!, it would be a different story. But here we are.

Case(s) in point: the Editorial Board has brazenly and sneakily blamed Republicans for any number of acts of political violence in the past, and been forced to issue corrections for false claims. A few oldies but goodies:

“Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.”>it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.

Can we just stop with the moral preening, New York Times? Can you stop trying to make us believe you are something than you really are? While you may think us too stupid to know better, we do. We see right through you. But hey, if you want Trump in 2020 that badly, just keep on being you.

–Dana


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