Stop Covering Donald Trump

By Miles Johnson

On July 17, 2015, The Huffington Post decided it would no longer include then-Republican presidential candidate (and now Republican nominee) Donald Trump in its political coverage, instead opting to treat his campaign as entertainment news (on December 7, Arianna Huffington reversed the decision in a post tilted “We Are No Longer Entertained,” following Trump calling for a shutdown of Muslims entering the United States). This declaration, now and then, was a misstep. As he has been in October 2016, Trump was a sexist, racist, xenophobic demagogue, and deserved more attention than the likes of the Kardashians or the star of “The Bachelorette” in July 2015.

For the next year and three months, Trump was covered. And covered. And covered. And covered some more. This past weekend, the incessant attention somehow crescendoed to a new height when a tape of Trump and then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush surfaced, on which Trump made lewd and derogatory comments toward women, and admitted to kissing women without their consent, grabbing their genitals, and reporting a sense of entitlement because, according to the Republican candidate for the highest office in the world, “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

The Huffington Post wasn’t wrong last July; it was just too early. Now is the appropriate time to end coverage of Donald Trump. With less than one month until election day, there is no story that could break, no tape that could leak, no endorsement too craven, that would in any way cause Trump to cease campaign operations. An incomplete list of his transgressions against seemingly every voting demographic include: his assertion that Republican Arizona senator John McCain was not actually a hero because he was captured; his argument that an Indiana judge was unfit to adjudicate a Trump University-related civil suit because of his Mexican heritage; his depiction of the alleged squalor in which all Black Americans live; his repeated refusals to disavow David Duke and reject his endorsement; his verbal condemnation of women ranging from former Miss Universe Alicia Machado to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (Trump’s sexism is so thick that The Telegraph compiled an archive of seemingly every public instance of his misogyny). This is a presidential candidate who, at his own rally, heckled an infant. 

No, seriously.

Had Trump run as vile a campaign but produced concrete policy proposals, many (for better or worse) would excuse his vitriol. Trump has yet to release his federal income tax returns, continuing to leave his alleged business acumen and financial success in serious doubt; his foreign policy advisors (who were, by Trump’s own admission, nonexistent as recently as March 2016) have been probed for possibly having ties to Russia; economists have described his plan as containing “mistake[s] that people who don’t really understand economics make,” and his promise of four percent annual economic growth improbable—those who believe it even could be implemented merely think it almost entirely ignores the middle class. He has matched every insult, snide remark, and racist dogwhistling with the absence of any credible solutions for the myriad ailments he insists plague the United States (but does include proposals that would exacerbate ones that actually exist). 

In the home stretch of any presidential election, many stories about the elusive and captivating, yet tragically misunderstood and frustrated Undecided Voter™ populate news feeds—like this one, or this one, or this one. However, this is one of the few elections in which that identity is truly a myth. Do you want someone who has attacked Black and Brown people, women, veterans, Jews, queer people for years to be in charge of the country? There is no room for moral relativism, nor is there a place for pretending as though this is a difficult decision. We should stop the deluge of hollow intellectualizing of a decision that, at its core, is incredibly simple. This, by no means, is a call to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. If you feel as though you must vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, or write-in your candidate, by all means, do so.

But the continued emphasis on Trump in the press has finally outlived its usefulness. There was a time at which his shortcomings indeed should have been intensely scrutinized—the same time at which there was even a shred of hope that a substantial number of Americans wouldn’t shamelessly flock towards his racist, sexist, xenophobic platform. That ship has sailed. Just as there is nothing that can be exposed to derail his campaign, there is nothing that can further solidify your choice in either candidate. If you don’t know who to pick between these two after over 15 months of around-the-clock coverage, you won’t know who to vote for on November 8 either. 

So for the rest of us, this latest fiasco—the leaked tape, the Mike Pence tears, the public feuding with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, all of it—should be the last time we speak about Trump until voting day. We all deserve a brief respite from the cyclone of bigotry that has informed this clownshoes campaign since last June. It is psychologically damaging to be essentially anyone but a privileged white man and have (at least one part of) your identity attacked every day—no longer can this violence even be considered the means to a greater end. Shining a spotlight on the Trump campaign is now only promoting a kind of gratuitous violence for its own sake.