Last week some members of the media heralded White House PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor for her brisk questioning of 45, yet again, during one of his daily freakshows. At one of these circuses, where 45 seldom remembers the dead but always lauds his TV ratings and governors who are nice to him, Alcindor pressed him on comments he had made on Sean Hannity’s state TV show. 45 had questioned the volume of medical equipment and supplies needed by New York in an interview with Hannity, and went on to insinuate during the Q &A that ventilators had somehow disappeared. 45 berated Alcindor, told her to not be “threatening” and denied that he had said what is recorded for posterity on state TV .
What we all know by now: 45 is a liar. What we all know by now: 45 is a cheat. What we all know by now: 45 is consistent. Well researched, pointed questions are not going to change him. We are going to have to change ourselves, save ourselves. And to do so means calling it like it is: New Yorkers are being murdered by the Federal government.
Does 45 despise smart Black women as some suggested after the latest Alcindor-45 dustup? Yes. He seems to despise most women, who come in two categories in his limited thinking: bootylicious–including his own elder daughter–and not-bootylicious. But the media is missing the point. The purpose of 45’s daily performances is not to provide important, life-saving information to a desperate, frightened public.
His theater of the absurd is designed to gin up his base–the TV version of the KKK rallies he hosts across the nation with surging, largely homogenous crowds that cackle at his vulgarities and inaccuracies. By simply doing her job and being demeaned for it, unfortunately, Alcindor unwittingly served up herself to the vilest impulses of Trumpland. There, Alcindor, a receptacle for group hatred, is a five-for-one: a Black, female, professional, reporter of immigrant descent.
Away from the theatrical distractions of DC, we in New York are being murdered by an incompetent, immoral administration that has taken grudge-holding and revenge-exacting to the highest level. New Yorkers are being murdered by members of an administration who have deprioritized our state because its residents are not a voting block for them and because we have a governor with organizational skills, a penchant for getting things done (whether you agree with him or not) and press conferences that are actually coherent.
Petty, narcissistic and self-involved, 45 smarts with envy every time Governor Cuomo shines. The governor has had to alternate between pressing this dangerous big baby for our needs and thanking him for the limited help he has provided. In the meantime, New Yorkers die. Every day. Not enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and over the horizon possibly not enough ventilators–items that the Feds won’t help the state source in adequate supply.
As the myth of American exceptionalism demands, we turn from the negative and cleave to the sparks of humanity. But the beautiful 7 p.m. ovations by New Yorkers cannot protect medical personnel from the virus any more than the free meals being delivered to them by restaurateurs desperate to remain in business.
New Yorkers are being murdered by this administration and no one will call it. We are in shell shock. We can’t believe what is happening. The idea of medical personnel fighting this formidable, invisible foe with soiled, inadequate equipment is untenable. The first doctor and nurse to lose their lives in service shook us to the core. The prospect of medical personnel using Sophie’s Choice scenarios to manage the limited number of ventilators is chilling.
We need supplies. We need equipment. We need assertive Federal leadership. We need a logistics czar like Lieutenant General Honoré was for Katrina. We need to stay alive. We need to do better, or at least something else. We are losing the war.
So where does that leave us? News directors should pull the plug on the daily freakshows. I agree with Rachel Maddow that the circuses should be taped, vetted for coherence and truth, and the few viable moments should be edited out and aired–until we see a Federal plan to source the supplies and equipment to the nation’s hotspots, regardless of the governors’ political affiliations. That would be the ultimate public service.
When I was a 22-year-old member of the New York Association of Black Journalists many moons ago, I was astonished by a question that came up frequently: Are you Black first and a journalist second, or vice versa? The question for journalists today, particularly those who are reporting on the pandemic, is are you an American first and a journalist second, or vice versa? I vote for American first.
In an interview on Amanpour last Friday, political biographer Jon Meachan explained his endorsement of Joe Biden, a move that is rare for someone of his profession and stature and one that could taint how his work is viewed. “You can see that the Trump administration, because of the character of the person at the top, created a reality distortion field … and … a response that is going to kill more people than the Vietnam war did. And in that case, given those stakes, and if there is a choice at hand, I don’t mind saying who my choice would be.”
Like Meacham, we all need to step out of our respective comfort zones. I implore the news directors who depend on us, the viewing public, for their revenue: Be an American first: Pull the plug on the daily carnivals; stop carrying them live. And for those of us who consume the news, be an American first: Pull the plug on the stations that continue to carry the carnivals. Vanity and grandiosity are 45’s Achilles heels. Let’s hit him where it hurts. Turn off the mic.
New Yorkers are being murdered by the Federal administration and no one will call it.
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April 6, 2020
New York death toll: 4,758
New York reported infections: 130,689