If you had any doubts about how juvenile those of us in newsbiz are, put them to rest. Look no further than how much attention we gave pundit Fareed Zakaria after he was asked on TV to characterize Donald Trump. He called him a “bulls–t artist.” Now, Zakaria is considered a serious columnist, perhaps even pompous, and he doesn’t usually get all that much attention. But let him drop the “b” word, and we callow ones can’t stop tittering and talking about him. (And, yes, I’m so immature that I go out of my way to use the word “titter.”)
As for Zakaria, he obviously recognized that he had cussed his way into publicity pay dirt, so he even decided to follow up and write a serious analytical piece on the history and meaning of the term “bulls–t.” Here’s my quick review of that column: totally boring bulls–t.
It’s not that he was wrong. When all is said and done, Trump is a bulls–t artist. His most famous book probably should have been called “The Art of the Bulls–ter.”
To be clear, it’s not that vulgarities offend me personally. When it comes to my private conversations, I swear by swearing. But a lot of people don’t, and they don’t want their precious little tykes to hear such talk, even though their precious little tykes casually use foul language the moment they’re out of earshot of mommy and/or daddy.
It’s that there are so many clever ways to describe The Donald without being quite so crass. My personal favorite came from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who characterized Trump’s rhetoric as “verbal poo-poo.” Doesn’t that have a nice touch? Donny’s talk of “Second Amendment people” dealing with Hillary? “Verbal poo-poo.” Same for his “sarcasm” about President Barack Obama being the ISIS “founder”: poo-poo. And when he describes the miserable shape the nation is in, he’s poo-mouthing the country.
Of course, his whatever-you-call-it has gone far beyond that. His steady stream of spoken excrement has inspired millions to think it’s OK to be a bigot. At the same time, however, a lot of it has splattered on him and his political supporters. Not only that, but it has given Hillary Clinton cover from her own poo-poo, as she inevitably gets caught telling the misleading stories she concocts about her hidden emails. Come to think of it, Fareed Zakaria’s word would be another way of describing her truth-twisting.
When some of her hidden emails emerge that suggest that she or her minions have breached the legal barriers between the State Department and the family business, the Clinton Foundation, the embarrassing disclosures are invariably driven from the headlines by some absurd diatribe from Donald Trump. This last time, it was his “Second Amendment” ad-lib.
In fact, many of his supporters say they believe that if he could just stick to the script, there still might be time for more email disclosures about dirty dealing by the Clinton people to do her in.
Fat chance. “I’ll just keep doing the same thing I’m doing right now,” he said on CNBC. “And at the end it’s either going to work or I’m going to, you know, I’m going to have a very, very nice, long vacation.”
The polls show right now that he ought to contact his travel agent. Maybe a trip to Russia would be nice, to see his BFF Vladimir Putin and thank him for hacking all the Democratic emails.
Wherever he goes, he’ll leave a real mess behind. The Republican Party will be in tatters. So will Democrat Hillary Clinton. Yes, her presidency would be historic, but she would be taking over a nation that largely doesn’t trust her, a nation covered in poo-poo from a political system full of bulls–t artists.
Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.