This week, former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll published explosive allegations that President Donald Trump had raped her in a department store in the 1990s. In response, the President tweeted that she was “not his type” and that he’d never met her.
As the Democratic debates begin, media commenters wondered why a credible accusation of rape against a sitting President is not enough to permanently sink his chances at re-election, with some blaming the media for moving on too fast.
Writing in the conservative publication The Bulwark, Jonathan V. Last notes that the media did its job. And that it’s the US public that lacks the moral compass to ditch the president, despite multiple allegations of sexual assault.
Last explains how journalists cover stories like this. “They report that it exists. They try to run down the particulars to vet it as best they can. (Which is what the NYT did.) They ask the president about it,” he writes.
“And then what?”
Last notes that reporters can’t force readers and viewers to care about a story.
“It’s one thing for the press to try to prove a story that Americans don’t believe,” he adds.
“But once the story is out there, they can’t make Americans care about it.”
He adds that millions of Americans voted for Trump, even after he bragged about committing sexual assault.
“I say this all the time and I’ll say it again here: The problem isn’t the media. The problem is us,” Last observes.
“This is what an unserious citizenry looks like.”