Meryl Streep’s speech at Sunday’s Golden Globes hit all the right notes, setting the internet on fire for most of Monday.
Those on Team Streep tweeted breathlessly about her eloquence. Those not on Team Streep started up with the #thisiswhytrumpwon stuff.
As for the subject of Streep’s words, Donald Trump threw gasoline on the fire by doing what he always does: tweeting.
For people who have been watching Trump battle with his critics for more than a year, the whole situation was rather predictable. It quickly devolved into a petty, partisan fight over old news (Trump’s mocking of a disabled journalist) and whether it was a celebrity’s place to comment on politics.
It was and still is, based on a cursory look at what’s floating around on social media the perfect story to distract from the ongoing calamity that is the Trump administration confirmation process.
This is a point that many in the media made early Monday. Of course, by that time, no one person or organization could stop the tsunami that was Streep vs. Trump.
The fight with Streep is the controversy the Trump admin wants. The absent ethics documents of its nominees is the controversy they dont.
Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) January 9, 2017
It has never been more important to pick battles. With Trump’s inauguration less than two weeks away, there are any number of stories of massive importance that need the public’s attention. There’s Trump’s business interests that could theoretically put him in violation of the U.S. Constitution the very moment he is sworn in.
Trump has thrived for months on attacks from journalists, celebrities and other people that he has grouped together as the “elites” who have ruined the country for hardworking, blue-collar Americans. Monday was no different, with plenty on the conservative side (even some who aren’t Trump supporters) declaring that Streep’s speech was why Trump won. It is a familiar and tired pattern.
Unfortunately, Monday was a particularly important day. This week, Trump’s nominations for his Cabinet are due to be put through the ringer in confirmation hearings, which could even be delayed due to a lack of important disclosures and vetting. News also broke on Monday that Jared Kushner would be a senior adviser to the president despite being Trump’s son-in-law, federal nepotism laws and his own potential conflicts due to business interests. Late on Monday, USA TODAY reported Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state nominee, had been CEO when Exxon had conducted business with Iran, Syria and Sudan through subsidiaries despite U.S. sanctions against those countries.
Trump doesn’t release taxes, give us bogus medical report. Now nominees won’t finish ethics questionnaires. We know nothing ¬hing matters
Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) January 10, 2017
Instead of those topics leading the news, Streep v. Trump seemed everywhere.
Streep was spot on with her points. The problem is that they were centered on issues that are more or less part of the past. Voters elected Trump despite the fact that he mocked a reporter on stage at a rally. Yes, it’s worth bringing up, but at this point it’s more of a distraction from the issues at hand than anything else. Streep’s call to action to donate to the Committee to Protect Journalists is also an admirable one. It would have been better, however, to tell people to call their elected officials and demand that they properly vet his cabinet nominees.
And public attention apparently still matters. The Republican effort to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics caused enough of a commotion to spur citizens to pick up their phones and voice their disgust with their representatives. The GOP rapidly dropped the attempt, at least for now.
Its unreasonable to expect every individual to fully appreciate just how twisted the Trump media cycle has become, but for those who have come to comprehend the magnitude of manipulation we are now facing, it’s tough to watch. Its overwhelming; we need a breather. So it is easy and downright pleasant to get sucked into the feel-good Streep-fest.
Sadly, it’s also the kind of thing that Trump thrives on.
I love ya, Meryl, but next time, make it about the news.