Sunday's news of a firebombing attack at a GOP headquarters in North Carolina, complete with graffiti including the term "Nazi Republicans get out or else!" shocked many. The sad truth is that no one should be surprised. Based on the rhetoric and emotions connected to this presidential election, America should expect more of this kind of violence over the remaining 22 days until Election Day and perhaps beyond. And this is partly because of a news media that's become just as partisan, sensational, and downright hysterical as the most irresponsible people spewing out hyperbole on social media.
Let's start with the highest levels of the supposedly responsible media where comparisons of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler appear almost daily on the pages of the Washington Post and New York Times. Those papers and many of their peers have also taken an almost National Enquirer approach to each and every one of Trump's statements, depicting them in the most incendiary light and repetitively so. With Trump's bombastic speaking style readily apparent, it's not clear why anyone working in the news media would see the need to sensationalize them even more, but they do it anyway.
Perhaps the best example of this worst kind of journalism came in August when Trump uttered the following three sentences: "Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks... though the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know."
After those comments, several major media outlets chose to depict and report those comments as Trump encouraging gun owners to assassinate Hillary Clinton. That was the most sensational way to interpret those comments, rather than entertaining the possibility that Trump meant those folks should get out and vote. It bordered on the news media inciting violence itself. This is a pattern that has repeated itself several times in this election.
Clinton has been victimized in a slightly different way by her political opponents in the right wing press and by her foes on social media. The Democratic nominee for president has been depicted daily as nothing less than a traitor; selling out America's security against terrorism and its economic well being in return for campaign donations or support for the Clinton Foundation. The mainstream media has also repeatedly parroted Trump's threat to "lock her up" that has become a rallying cry for his supporters. Enough Americans believe this worst picture of Clinton and her campaign to eliminate any legitimate surprise if a similar attack were ever carried out against one of her campaign headquarters.