First off, I want to say that I’m not mad at the good folks who run Salon.com — I’m just very very very disappointed in them.
My history with Salon goes back years to when Table Talk was the place to be for liberals at a time when Drudge ruled our world and blogs (remember them?) seemed to be the future.
Trading quips on TT with like-minded people was responsible for my personal growth from “Internet smartass” to “a somewhat popular blogger” to word scribbler to … “Internet smartass.”
Time really is a flat circle.
Salon had — and still has — many excellent writers who were and are provocative without going off the rails into Slate-pitchy grotesquery. I mean: “Creed is good“? You are dead to me, Slate. Dead.
But then someone flipped a switch at Salon with The Rise Of The Bernie and things got….weird.
This isn’t to say that Salon went, “Bernie is just like Jesus – only better.” More like they went: “Hillary is the anti-Christ — only worse.”
There is, obviously, the appropriately named HA! Goodman, who went from denial (“Bernie Sanders has already won: He’s not only gaining on Hillary, he’s pushing her the right direction“) to anger (“I wouldn’t vote for Dick Cheney, so I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton: An unrepentant only-Sanders voter fires back at critics“) to bargaining (“Please, FBI — you’re our last hope: The Democratic Party’s future rests upon your probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails“).
Depression to be announced later. Acceptance? Nevah!
While Goodman represents the outermost fringe of the outermost fringe on the edge of forever, there are others at Salon who have a such a hate-boner for Hillary that they took turns making the case for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or whomever was the GOP blue plate special of the day.
Fine, give the GOP four years: The liberal case for either Bernie Sanders, or electing a Republican president
A liberal case for Donald Trump: The lesser of two evils is not at all clear in 2016
“It’s the corruption, stupid”: Hillary’s too compromised to see what Donald Trump understands
Hillary’s inevitability lie: Why the media and party elites are rushing to nominate the weakest candidate
We must smash the Clinton machine: Democratic elites and the media sold out to Hillary this time, but change is coming
This one in particular is just too too precious: Hillary’s in danger, Trump is sunk: The hard truths America is ignoring this election season
Democrats, this is why you need to fear Hillary Clinton: The NY Times is absolutely right — she’s a bigger hawk than the Republicans
Hillary must pick Bernie for VP: She may even need him more than he needs her
Then someone got the brilliant idea to go up in the attic and dust off rambling relic Camille Paglia because we need more hot takes on how Hillary will never be Barbara Stanwyck or Madonna — but that Trump guy!
Only a few weeks after that interview of mine in Salon, I suddenly realized that Trump’s candidacy had a broad support that few had expected or discerned. The agent of my revelation was a hilariously scathing, viral Web blog video posted by Diamond and Silk–Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, two African-American sisters and former Democrats in Fayetteville, North Carolina. They were reacting with indignant outrage to the first GOP debate, broadcast by Fox News from Cleveland on August 6 and hosted by Megyn Kelly, whose loaded questions had impugned Trump as a sexist.
If Trump wins the White House, that no-holds-barred video will go down in history as “the shot heard round the world,” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s phrase for the first salvo of the American Revolution by rural insurgents at Concord. The video signaled a popular uprising and furious pushback against the major media and political elites, who had controlled the national agenda and messaging for far too long. Diamond and Silk threw zinger after zinger in defending Trump: “Here’s the damn deal, Megyn Kelly—or Kelly Megyn, whatever your name is!…. Go back and report news on Sesame Street!…You hit below the belt, Kelly!…He was the only one up there on that stage with any common sense!… He’s going to be the next president, whether you like it or not. Get used to it, girl! Get used to it!”
This fiery endorsement blew me away because it demonstrated how Trump was directly engaging with a diverse coalition in ways that the mainstream media had completely missed.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose every word and policy statement on the campaign trail are spoon-fed to her by a giant paid staff and army of shadowy advisors, Trump is his own man, with a steely “damn the torpedoes” attitude. He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal. He lives large, with the urban flash and bling of a Frank Sinatra.
Sweet Jesus driving an Uber. Camille Paglia was dazzled by Megyn Kelly being told: “Go back and report news on Sesame Street!”
Lest you think that Paglia is a Trump supporter, she takes great pains to say that she is a supporter of Bernie — who is probably the only one in his campaign that has more than a passing acquaintance with Sinatra that isn’t rooted in irony and thrift shop vinyl.
What the hell is up with Salon?
Like most politically-oriented websites, they are fighting for traffic in an exceedingly volatile primary season that has seen gossip sites like People and TMZ jumping into the fray because a reality show buffoon is heading one of the two major tickets that has any shot at the White House. Click-bait headlines and contrarianism is one of the few ways to differentiate your website when every headline is “Donald Trump says [dumb thing] — Jesus Christ, are the Republicans serious and is it the media’s fault?”
And there is nothing wrong with being clicky and enticing. “Hot takes” — when they aren’t dumpster fires of idiocy — are not necessarily bad. Horse-race journalism (the only reason Politico exists that I can see) pitting candidate against candidate can be entertaining too, although it is rarely enlightening.
The problem for an ostensibly liberal website is when you metastasize from legitimate criticism of “your side” to scorched earth “we have to destroy our village in order to save it” demagoguery. It wouldn’t take much time these days to compile a “Salon or Breitbart?” pop quiz that the whole family could enjoy.
Put simply: Hillary Clinton — and all liberals for that matter — are fair game. God knows Hillary has her flaws and lots of them, but then she sure as shit is not Donald Trump either for gawd’s sakes. He-Man Hillary hatin’ is not going to be forgiven very easily after the dust settles in November.
Damaged brands tend to stay damaged.
And, to be fair, Salon has dialed it back recently, but still top-bannered this today: “Donald Trump is going to win: This is why Hillary Clinton can’t defeat what Trump represents”
And it contained this gem:
In this election, abstraction will clearly lose, and corporeality, even if—or particularly if—gross and vulgar and rising from the repressed, will undoubtedly win. A business tycoon who vigorously inserted himself in the imaginations of the dispossessed as the foremost exponent of birtherism surely cannot be entirely beholden to the polite elites, can he? Trump is capital, but he is not capital, he is of us but also not of us in the way that the working class desires elevation from their rootedness, still strongly identified with place and time, not outside it.
All is forgiven, Camille Paglia.
Now back in the attic with you.