Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Ignoring reality for fun and profit?

Although LinkedIn is a social networking site focused on professional networking and career development, it has over the course of the last five years become almost as politicized as Facebook and Twitter, with news stories used as cudgels in support of progressive or conservative agendas.

I know, for example, of an advertising copywriter whose "award-winning" B2B (business-to-business) content seems to spend most of its time hiding behind anti-Trump diatribes that a handful of other LinkedIn users applaud as enthusiastically as trained seals. This copywriter shall remain nameless here, but -- like MSNBC host Rachel Maddow -- he's angry at the frequent White House Press Briefings in our covid-19 world because (he says) they give President Trump too sturdy and high-profile a platform from which to stoke "false hope" and launch a continuing volley of "lies."

Anyone not suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome might be forgiven for wanting examples of that execrable behavior, and Brave Sir Robin (not his name) does not disappoint. Unfortunately, however, his examples don't make the damning case that he wishes they did, likely because they come from too often from CNN or MSNBC.

Case in point: About a week ago, this LinkedIn denizen claimed it was deceptive for the president to say he was dispatching a U.S. Navy hospital ship to New York City. According to this armchair quarterback, the Navy's hospital ships "are being retrofitted and don't even have crews."

It didn't matter to him that New York's Democrat governor had echoed the president's words, because he said his skepticism was based on unspecified reporting by "The AP, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times."

Following President Trump's lead, Governor Andrew Cuomo had recently said that a hospital ship would be in New York Harbor by mid-April. The good news at the end of March is that it's already there.

The USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles on March 27, and the USNS Comfort arrived in New York City on March 30. In case it matters, I didn't get either of those facts from Fox News.

Let's hope for the sake of whatever positive reputation national news outlets still have that their reporting was filtered clumsily through worst-case scenarios in some consumers' heads, because even less-than-heroic reporting since the screed that inspired these thoughts vindicates the president.

Ever faithful to mendacious narratives of Trumpian incompetence that it helps create, the New York Times now observes that the converted supertanker its reporters can presumably see is "not made to contain the coronavirus."

Oof. This rhetorical sleight-of-hand downplays the important fact that the mission of both hospital ships was never described that way by the president or his pandemic response team. The ships are in port to support medical facilities in the major metropolitan areas close to where they're anchored. They are, in other words, strategic assets, rapidly and intelligently deployed by a president who habitually acts more decisively than his capricious and tone-deaf critics or Machiavellian enemies would prefer.

This is not to say that the president is always right. As Daniel Flynn of American Spectator mused, "Who else did not vote for $5 trillion deficits, a Monopoly-money debasement of the currency, and government spending exceeding anything in Barack Obama's wildest dreams when they cast ballots for Donald Trump?"

But if the hospital ships didn't even have crews a week ago (a self-evidently doubtful assertion, given where the vessels are now and how they got there), then Trump's critics (Brave Sir Robin among them) are tacitly admitting that he was either telling the truth or motivating the U.S. Navy to perform logistical miracles. One might even embrace the healing power of "and" here. Either outcome seems good to me.

Given the way it tears heedlessly at our national fabric by sounding alarms about the orange man's wolf du jour on the flimsiest of pretexts, Trump Derangement Syndrome is every bit as problematic as the Wuhan coronavirus. On the other hand, there may be an upside to any mental condition robust enough to drive even the most graspingly ambitious Democrats from fixating on entirely farcical charges of collusion, obstruction, and impeachment to paying at least lip service to prayer.

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