“Media’s ‘Melania missing in action’ narrative took Trump Derangement Syndrome to new heights,” ran the headline on Brian Flood’s Fox News story Tuesday. Readers had good cause to believe “new depths” would have been more accurate.
First Lady Melania Trump recently endured a kidney operation and will not be joining her husband, President Donald Trump, on forthcoming trips. Jamil Smith of Rolling Stone, who appears on the Rachel Madow Show and writes about sports, thought he had a scoop all teed up.
“I wish that I didn’t suspect that the prolonged, poorly explained public absence of Melania Trump could be about concealing abuse,” Smith tweeted. “I wish that it was a ludicrous prospect. I wish that the POTUS wasn’t a man with a history of abusing women, including those to whom he is married.” It was a tough act to follow but Atlantic senior editor David Frum was up to the task.
“Suppose President Trump punched the first lady in the White House (federal property = federal jurisdiction), then ordered the Secret Service to conceal the assault,” Frum tweeted. “POTUS has Article II authority over Secret Service. Is that obstruction? Under Sekulow/Dowd, apparently NO.”
Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center told Flood that “to see a Rolling Stone writer claim the absence was possible domestic violence is demented.” Maybe so, or worse, but not a surprise given the magazine’s record for fake news.
On November 19, 2014, _Rolling Stone_ published “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA,” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. She interviewed “Jackie,” who claimed that seven University of Virginia frat boys raped her, one by one. The story went viral, grabbing nearly three million views, more than any Rolling Stone feature about a non-celebrity. Trouble was, as Howard Beal said in Network, “none of it is true.”
As Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana explained, “when _The Washington Post_ uncovered details suggesting that the assault could not have taken place the way we described it, the truth of the story became a subject of national controversy.” Rolling Stone reached out to the Columbia School of Journalism, which found the story bogus and pronounced it a journalistic failure.
Rolling Stone officially retracted “A Rape on Campus” and, wrote Dana, “we would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students.”
David Frum, who suspects that President Trump had punched Melania in the White House, is the son of the late Barbara Frum, co-host of the CBC radio talk show “As It Happens.” Frum’s wealthy parents sent him to All the Best Schools, Yale and Harvard, where Frum duly bagged his JD. The Ivy League alum gained fame as a speechwriter for George W. Bush, and last December told CNN “The mistakes are precisely the reason the people should trust the media.”
Frum also tweeted, “Inside the US, CNN’s reporting is protected by the First Amendment and the courts. Outside the US, US-affiliated journalists do ultimately depend on the protection of the US government. Trump’s words are a direct attack on those international journalists’ freedom & even safety.”
In an elephantine Atlantic piece titled “How to Build an Autocracy,” Frum wrote that Donald Trump “represents something much more radical.” Trump is “a president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service.” So the Ivy League veteran of the Bush White House is down with the Russia collusion story, but there’s more.
“We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.”
Frum is a longtime fan of Hillary Clinton and before the 2016 election wrote, “I have already voted for her.” As Frum explained, “She is a patriot. She will uphold the sovereignty and independence of the United States. She will defend allies. She will execute the laws with reasonable impartiality. She may bend some rules for her own and her supporters’ advantage. she will not outright defy legality altogether. Above all, she can govern herself; the first indispensable qualification for governing others.”
Such a righteous, entitled, worthy person would probably never punch First Man Bill Clinton in the face right there in the White House, the very place he got it on with “that woman,” the 22-year-old Monica Lewinsky. But Donald Trump would smack Melania, as the illustrious Harvard and Yale man contends.
At this writing, neither Frum nor Smith have issued apologies, but any attempt would be as meaningless. After all, according to Frum, when journalists get things wrong, it’s more reason to trust them. At this point, on the other hand, some realities are hard to deny.
Trump Derangement Syndrome is truly fathomless. David Frum, who once masqueraded as a conservative, is surely the deepest diver. Odds are he’s not coming up any time soon.