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The most disgraceful column ever? Peggy Noonan just wrote it

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One of the questions making the rounds on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration has been, What has been Trump’s effect on the media?

Here’s one answer: Trump has given permission to write irresponsible, misleading and demonstrably false columns, like the one Peggy Noonan wrote the other day.

Once upon a time, a credible columnist wouldn’t have dared to put out such a dishonest piece. But in this era of Trumpian lies and disinformation, Noonan has no shame. The ostensible topic of her column is a reflection on the abuse and sexual harassment of women by men—an important topic upon which to write a thoughtful essay, regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or Republican.

But the dishonesty of Noonan’s propaganda—for that’s what it is—lies in this: She moralizes how unsavory it is when “boorish…slobs…use [women] sexually.” They are “creeps” and “predators” whose “piggishness, grabbiness, manipulation and power games” prove they are “not gentlemen.” In fact, Noonan charges, accurately, such predators are not “chivalrous, courteous [or] honorable.” They are not “good to women”; instead of “stand[ing] with them,” they display their “lowest, most brutish selves.”

Noonan’s solution to the problem: Men should be “gentlemen” like Jimmy Stewart, in “The Philadelphia Story”: a man who “could have taken advantage” of Katharine Hepburn’s character because “she’d been drinking,” but didn’t, because “There are rules about that.”

If, Dear Reader, as you peruse Noonan’s words, the face of Donald Trump, with all its unsavory notes, pops into your head (and, of course it does), it’s not a coincidence. There was the Access Hollywood tape, with his boasts about “grabbing pussy.” Since then, at least 19 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, and that was before the Stormy Daniels scandal broke, with its sordid, and possibly illegal, payoffs to the porn star.

One might reasonably expect that an essay by a woman condemning sexual harassment and exploitation of women by a powerful man would include a mention of the most famous, rich and powerful sexual exploiter in America, the current president. But you’ll find not a mention of Donald Trump. Noonan does, predictably, fulminate against “the cultural left,” as if it were the repository of all sexual harassment in America. That is to be expected; it’s her job, I suppose, to castigate liberals.

But not a word about Trump? Not a word about the cultural right that tolerates—indeed, by its acquiescence, encourages—a sexual predator like Donald Trump? By not mentioning him, by attacking Democrats and raising the image of the all-American, clean-as-a-whistle Jimmy Stewart, Noonan implies (deliberately?) that Donald Trump is “an encourager of women,” “a gentleman.”

In her slanted defense of the predator president, Noonan shows that she’s no different a Republican apologist than the evangelical preacher, Franklin Graham, who, cornered by MSNBC’s Alex Witt, dismissed the Trump sex scandals as “just a news story.” At least Graham acknowledged the possibility that Trump is a sexual predator. Noonan can’t even do that.

Everybody knows that Trump is, in Noonan’s words, a “boorish, piggish slob and creep” who “uses women sexually.” He “takes advantage” of women, not necessarily because they’re drunk (although they may well be), but because they’re intimidated by his wealth and power. His intentions towards them are neither “courteous” nor “honorable.”

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan know this. Trump’s entire Cabinet knows it. Franklin Graham knows it. Ivanka Trump knows it. The most rightwing white supremacist at Breitbart knows it. And, yes, Peggy Noonan knows it. But she cannot and will not acknowledge it in public because her chief role in Rupert Murdoch’s rightwing media empire is to support and defend, not the Constitution of the United States, not America, not women, not decency, but Donald Trump.

So when we ask, “What has been the effect of Trump on the media?”, the answer is, to normalize and legitimize the most disgracefully fraudulent and manipulative writing in our nation’s history. Reflect, if you are able to, on Donald Trump’s behavior as you consider the title of Noonan’s essay: “America Needs More Gentlemen.”

Gentlemen like Donald Trump? Peggy Noonan thinks so.

  1. So, not sure how being an expert in drinking makes you an expert in politics, but as a long-time WSJ reader, I’m in complete disagreement.

    How does this article echo Trump? In general, Noonan has not even been favorable towards Trump and while you can argue her point ignores the very real issue of sexual assault it is a huge leap to equate her with Trump.

    Go back to drinking.

  2. You concede that Noonan’s column “ignores the very real issue of sexual assault.” Well, that’s a pretty devastating critique, isn’t it? And can you tell me why she didn’t mention Trump at all? If you’re going to write a column about sexual assault in America, don’t you think you should reference Trump? I mean, come on, use your head. He is the most famous, richest, most powerful sexual harasser in the country! I am aware that Noonan has attempted to soften her hard-right image with the occasional slap on the wrist to Trump, but when push comes to shove, she’s Rupert Murdoch’s creature. She knows what her paymaster wants. No matter your politics, I would hope that basic honesty would compel you to agree with me that Noonan’s column is thoroughly dishonest.

  3. Do you really know anything about Peggy Noonan? Hard right? Really? She has much more in common with the Reagan administration than anything with Trump (who to be clear I did not vote for and to not support).

    I believe you are letting your reaction to Trump filter your views on everything else you associate with this so-called hard right.

    My sense is her actual topic was the Aziz Ansari story, which I believe is a topic reasonable people can debate as to whether any so-called assault occurred. I wasn’t there and have no direct knowledge, but the allegations are nothing like the Nassar case which the Sacramento Bee just contrasted it with. Curious what your reaction on Marcos Breton’s column there would be.

    BTW, the Tastings column that ran in the WSJ for years was fantastic – is that tainted too by its association with a “far right” publication?

  4. I do know something about her. I subscribe to the WSJ and read her. I’ve more or less followed her since the Reagan administration. When she feels she has to be critical of Trump (because he’s so egregious) she is very circumspect, as if she does not want to hit him too hard. Which I can’t understand, because he deserves to be hit very hard–particularly by Republicans, whose party he is destroying. Your “sense” may be that her column was about Aziz. Mine wasn’t. It was about sexual harassment of women by men, especially men who have power. Now, I dare you to tell me how anyone can write on that topic and not have Trump be the poster child. I read her column very, very carefully, and I remain stunned that she wrote a critique of the absence of “gentlemen” in our culture and didn’t mention Trump!!! Although she did manage to slam the “cultural left.” Unbelievable, hypocritical, deplorable. That is the “hard right.” Noonan is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As for the WSJ’s wine column, Lettie is a good writer. I know her and have shared a podium with her. Her column has nothing to do with politics. I’ve always said that the WSJ’s news and cultural reporting is pretty damned good. It’s the op-ed stuff that’s filled with lies and propaganda, and Peggy Noonan obviously is on the op-ed side.

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