I have previously written that I believe that Trump supporters have a legitimate complaint about some of the coverage on the mainstream media. I say “some” because Trump has clearly generated the majority of bad press on his own and the media has merely covered the controversies. However, there has been some valid objections to how media has jumped on Trump statements, even positions that mirror those once held by the Clintons or currently held by significant numbers of Americans. Critics insist that media is unrelenting on Trump coverage and interviews while far less aggressive with Clinton or her controversies in coverage or interviews.
CNN has taken the brunt of much of the criticism from Trump supporters who commonly dismiss the network as the “Clinton News Network.” That is unfair in my view but a recent article on CNN.com has raised this issue again. Entitled “Trump wants GOP to court black voters — then slams voting rights for felons,” the column suggests that Trump was somehow hypocritical for making a pitch for African-American votes while opposing voting for felons. Moreover, the assumption that felons are somehow synonymous with blacks went by without any apparent objection or question. Had Trump made such an association, I am fairly certain he would have pilloried. Moreover, the highly negative coverage given his pitch to the black community raises valid questions of the balance in reporting analogous pitches from the Clinton campaign.
“No group in America has been more harmed by Hillary Clinton’s policies than African Americans. No group. No group. If Hillary Clinton’s goal was to inflict pain to the African American community, she could not have done a better job. It is a disgrace.
Detroit tops the list of most dangerous cities in terms of violent crime, number one . . . The only way to change results is to change leadership. We can never fix our problems by relying on the same politicians who created our problems in the first place. A new future requires brand new leadership . . . Look at how much African American communities are suffering from Democratic control. To those I say the following: What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose? You live in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
That would seem to me little different from Hillary Clinton campaigning in black neighborhoods based on the promise of economic and legal reforms to benefit their community. Yet, Trump was attacked for the pitch for black voters and the speech called possibly the “worst ever” appeal to the black community.
However, the column by CNN seems to do precisely what the media has accused Trump of doing: associating blacks with crime. The column states “Donald Trump acknowledged Saturday that the Republican Party ‘must do better’ in appealing to African-Americans. But in the same speech here, he again slammed an order by the state’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, to restore voting rights to some convicted felons who have completed their sentences, a move McAuliffe says could help African-Americans who were disproportionally affected by laws that put lifetime bans on felons.”
I happen to favor voting rights for felons. If we want people to rejoin communities, we should be encouraging their participation in civic institutions. However, there is no reason in my view to treat Trump as hypocritical in seeking African-American votes while also opposing voting rights for felons. There are good faith arguments on both sides of the voting rights for felons. More importantly, blacks and felons are not synonymous terms. The irony is that Trump was heavily criticized for linking illegal immigrants coming over the Mexican border with crime. It was an association widely denounced as racist.
The point is not that rights for former felons will not have an impact on this community or that this is not a legitimate issue to be discussed in the context of rebuilding African-American communities. Rather, the issue is one of fairness to the Trump camp in the treatment of analogous associations made by his critics in the past. It is also true in my view that there is nothing inherently ridiculous or hypocritical in Trump maintaining these two positions.
What do you think?