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Why do the media try to scare liberals?

Presidents Macron and Biden in Cornwall, June 2021. White House photo. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Before the people of France voted on Sunday, the media were filled with stories suggesting that Marine Le Pen just might win. Bunk. Marine Le Pen was never going to win. The result was 58.5 to 41.5. In the United States, an election like that would be considered a historic landslide.

Now that the election is over, the media are filled with stories over-emphasizing the obstacles that Macron faces in France. And the Atlantic — the Atlantic! — has a silly piece today saying that Le Pen won even though she lost: Macron Won. And So Did the Far Right.

Bunk, bunk, bunk, and bunk.

And by the way I worry about the Atlantic, which increasingly is running clickbait in its online edition.

The people of France have not lost their minds. I would argue that the results of the French election show that, even though the French people have some issues with Macron, they are far from damned-fool enough to hand the country over to a right-winger. In the first round of voting, remember, the candidate who placed third was Jean-Luc Mélenchon, often identified as a leftist firebrand. In the first round, Mélenchon got 22 percent of the vote, just short of Le Pen, who got 23.2. In other words, the solid left in France is as strong as the solid right. And in the final election, with Macron’s strong support from the center, did anyone really think that all those leftists would vote for Le Pen?

I’m all for keeping voters on their toes and vigilant about the threat from the right. But can we keep it real?

One of the reasons this matters is that the same thing is happening in the United States. The media still maintain that Trump is going to run again in 2024. Trump scare stories are guaranteed clickbait. As I have said before, there is not a snowball’s chance that Trump will run again in 2024. If he did (in a fair election, anyway), he’d lose even more of the popular vote than he lost in 2016 and 2020. Whatever the MAGA crowd may think, most Americans know what Trump is. A slim majority, at least, have always known what Trump is, and Americans increasingly despise him. Even Republicans in Congress despise him, though they still have to kiss Trump’s … uh, ring. After the January 6 committee in the U.S. House hold their hearings on Trump’s coup attempt and the indictments start, Trump’s future will be prison, not the White House.

Sure, like the French with Macron, some Americans have issues with Biden. Young people, according to a new poll, have little enthusiasm for Biden. But who can believe that young people eager for progress would vote for a Trump because they have issues with Biden?

Unless the right-wing inability to adapt to change and to understand an ever-more-complex world causes right-wing huns to go extinct the way the Neanderthals did, we’re always going to have to deal with a certain percentage of right-wing huns in the population and people like Trump who will try to deceive them, inflame them, and ride them to power.

But we are a majority, and huns cannot win unless multiple failures happen at the same time — some form of manipulation (Julian Assange, James Comey, Vladimir Putin), a wall of lies (Rupert Murchoch), some form of legalized cheating (under development in multiple states), widespread media malpractice in the face of the right-wing wall of lies (her emails!), and undemocratic flukes such as the American Electoral College.

Republican strategy, of course, is try to try to take power through those multiple failures. Our job is to stop them, on all fronts. We failed in 2016 and succeeded in 2020. It’s not impossible that the sane-though-regressive element of the Republican Party (think Liz Cheney) will regain control after Trump goes down. But, if they don’t, the Republican Party will cook up for 2024 something just as monstrous as Trump.

Still, they can’t win unless several things go wrong at the same time. There’s a good comparison to aircraft safety. An airliner can almost always recover from a single failure. But if two or more things go wrong at the same time, watch out. As for France, its democracy is strong and its elections are fair. Our media, however, have some dangerous problems.

Update 1: Jennifer Rubin, bless her heart, gets it right in the Washington Post, even if the headline writer stayed in defensive mode: Macron may have won comfortably. But this is no time to let down our guard.

Update 2: Adam Gopnik, in the New Yorker, seems to agree with me:

The fact is that, in difficult circumstances, Macron has managed to win the Presidency twice—a sign that he is resilient, despite being supposedly enfeebled, and that the political reservoir of common sense in France remains. The degree to which the American press—and, to be sure, segments of the French—insists on casting his victory as a kind of moral defeat, is genuinely bewildering.


  1. Chenda wrote:

    It might be my imagination but I’ve noticed over the years a certain anti-French prejudice in much of the English speaking press, in both left and right. A peculiar desire to present France as some kind of permanent failure ever on the verge of collapse. France is not without its share of problems of course but it many ways its long outperformed Britain,and I think likely has a much better future.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at 3:19 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Chenda… I think you are right. That’s certainly true in the U.S. as well.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2022 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

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