Monday, November 28, 2016

Maher latest media man to look under the hood

Maher latest media man to look under the hood

HBO funnyman and political commentator Bill Maher is doing some very public soul searching, the latest in a series of media personalities, most on the left, who have had "come to Jesus” moments subsequent to the 2016 presidential election.

A few days after far-right political commentator and radio host Glenn Beck offered a stunning – and many say wholly disingenuous – retraction of … pretty much the bulk of his career … comedian and TV host Bill Maher has come out to admit he should have taken Trump more seriously, and he regrets some of his thinking and commentaries.

As with many in the media, Maher pivoted between talking about Trump like he was a monster and dismissing him as a joke. But the biggest mea culpa coming from Maher – and others – is the instances of crying wolf that precipitated candidate Trump. Speaking of both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, Maher said:

“They were honorable men who we disagreed with, and we should have kept it that way. So, we cried wolf, and that was wrong. But this is real…”

It’s also over and done. Trump has been elected, and that leaves those who opposed him searching for reasons why. They want to know how they contributed to a culture and media environment that simply didn’t take Trump seriously. Treated him as a punchline. That narrative has morphed into some truly “sky is falling” rhetoric, but most people have stopped listening.

For years the opposition profited by making each successive challenger to Obama seem like a fringe nut job. Meanwhile, Trump was leading the birther movement, a totally unhinged conspiracy mill miseducated by rumor mongers like Alex Jones.

Then, when Trump stood on the same stage with men that guys like Maher had been demonizing for years, the optics spoke very loudly. He was one of them. Attacked just like all the others. So, voters dismissed the fears and the sounds of warning…dismissals many on the left didn’t hear inside their self-constructed echo chambers.

Now Maher is trying to find true north again. Trying to make sense of a world he cannot understand, but one he helped construct. We all hear the Boy Who Cried Wolf as children. Now many are learning that lesson as adults, and they are learning it the hard way.

Credibility is tough to come by, especially when you sacrifice it yourself.

David Milberg is a financial analyst in NYC.

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