Samantha Bee is one of the smartest and more important political commentators on the air today.
She is also hilarious and candid about our president’s utter lack of basic policy knowledge, willingness to lie repeatedly and then double-down on the lie and the coverup, and his indecent treatment of women and minorities. If I had to reduce my TV news intake to only one show today, I would choose Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
Michael Gerson is a conservative columnist for the Washington Post with whom I often disagree. But he is also smart. And while he uses Samantha Bee as his illustration, and I reject that choice as an ideologically driven effort to weaken the strongest voice among his opposition, he makes a good point in today’s editorial: when Trump critics slide into Trumpist rhetorical spaces, ‘dehumanizing’ those who disagree with us, we weaken our capacity to mobilize centrist voters to move dump Trump and his Republican comrades.
Gerson misses the mark by emphasizing the threat posed by late-night comedy shows, particularly at a time when the rough sarcastic edge of these shows is one of our few pathways toward clarity in an era dominated by Trumpian levels of bullshit. Neither mainstream media nor Democratic Party officials dehumanize Trump or Trump supporters—though both do point out things Trump actually says and these stand on their own as evidence of stupidity…often then used by overly sensitive Trump supporters as evidence that the mainstream media is dehumanizing Trump.
Gerson also misses the point in a more significant way when he then claims the far left is hijacking the anti-Trump movement to peddle the same old, off-the-shelf, ideas it has always tried to sell. First, this is how it always works. Second, this is a self-correcting process. Third, the worst instances of this in recent memory are W’s response to 9/11 and the current Republican agenda in DC.
At the same time, I do agree, to a point, with this Gerson point: “A substantive, centrist response to Trump has a chance of releasing his hold on the GOP and the country. A sneering, dismissive, dehumanizing, and conspiratorial hard left response to Trump is his fondest hope.”
To a point? I agree that mainstream media and party leaders need to mobilize a ‘substantive, centrist response to Trump’ because the key to defeating Trumpism is to win back the moderate Trump supporters who are less racist, less bigoted, less ignorant than the core Trump supporters.
But, doing this has nearly nothing to do with muzzling Samantha Bee. We need more SamanthaBees and John Olivers and... And we need to be thankful that comedy and art are able to fill the black hole in our souls left by the election of the most indecent president in our lifetime.