USA Today’s editorial board came for Trump
USA Today, a news source not typically known for it’s biting political commentary, just published a brutal editorial about the president. It’s like an episode of Snapped, but instead of the quiet wife who one day is working at the school bake sale and the next day has mounted her husband’s head on a stake, they are the full-color newspaper who one day is giving you a forecast of the pollen count before you leave your hotel room and the next day is telling the President of The United States that he’s not fit for office.
Last night, following the surprise election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger stopped everything to read from USA Today’s editorial on Donald Trump. “A president who’d all but call a senator a whore,” she read, slowly and with great enunciation, “is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes.” Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm’s face spoke for all of us:
.@JenGranholm’s reaction on @cnn as @GloriaBorger reads USA Today’s editorial saying @realDonaldTrump “is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.” pic.twitter.com/68EVHz3Q8d
— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) December 13, 2017
USA Today snapped, y’all.
In the article, which is titled, “Will Trump’s lows ever hit rock bottom?”, USA Today‘s editorial board reacts to Trump’s tweet yesterday about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. (You know, the one where he implied that she offered him sexual favors in exchange for campaign contributions? Yeah, that one.)
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
The editorial’s core message? The president is unfit for office.
“With his latest tweet,” the editorial starts, “clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.”
The editorial board dismisses White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ excuse that only people with their “mind in the gutter” would read his tweet that way because “he has used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women.” USA Today points out why that explanation doesn’t hold water: “Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her ‘wherever,’ he didn’t mean her nose…as is the case with all of Trump’s digital provocations, the president’s words were deliberate.”
And they were just getting started. They go on to question the president’s “basic decency,” call him “uniquely awful” and “sickening,” and bemoan his “utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity.”
Even Uncle Joe Biden was shocked, saying this morning on The View: “I’ve never ever in my career read an editorial like that.”
But despite how fitting many of these criticisms are, we need to be careful when choosing who we use as examples of people who have no worth. Clint Smith, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard, put this perfectly in his tweet about the article:
I understand the impulse to denigrate Trump, but it’s unfortunate USA Today wants to do that by denigrating those who clean toilets and shine shoes. People I love & respect deeply do these jobs. https://t.co/PtKGxzaR2n
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) December 13, 2017
To equate someone’s worth to their job, and to point to two jobs that are obviously low-paying, was an enormous mistake on USA Today‘s part. It’s an example of a kind of blindness to issues of class and race that shouldn’t be ignored, and it’s unfortunate, to say the least, that it was included in what’s an otherwise powerful article. It appears that in going for shock value, they forgot about the people attached to those jobs and what this kind of comparison would mean to them, their family, and their friends.
Apart from that disturbing flaw, the rest of the article is the kind of public censure this president needs and deserves. And for a news source that’s generally considered to be in the center politically, it was brave. The more voices we add to the chorus of criticisms of this president, the more hope we can have that America hasn’t totally lost its way.
Welcome to the resistance, USA Today. (But maybe issue an apology to the toilet-cleaners and shoe-shiners of the world.)