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Friday, October 25, 2019

Aaron Sorkin wrote Donald Trump, Example No. 31

I have argued before that Aaron's Sorkin's The West Wing reflects and lauds the politics practiced in the Trump White House, albeit in service of different substantive policy ends. The latest example is the announcement that the White House would cancel subscriptions to The New York Times and Washington Post and was ordering agencies and departments to cancel their subscriptions.

In one episode of The West Wing, President Bartlet and C.J. Cregg are mad about coverage of the administration by reporter Danny Concannon and his paper (I do not remember if it was the Post or a fictional paper). In a meeting among the three, Bartlet announces that he is canceling "our" subscription to Danny's paper. C.J. applauds the move as a way to damage the paper financially. Bartlet then reveals that he was speaking only of his personal subscription, not the governmental subscription, which disappoints C.J.

The point is that Sorkin liked the sort of politics in which the government punishes critics financially, in a way that would worsen the effectiveness of government (if we believe that staying abreast of the news is important for government officials). C.J. is the POV character in that scene and she is incensed that Bartlet will not do more to sanction and financially injure the paper and his critics.

Nor does this explanation cut it:

The difference is that Bartlet was a good president, who was prone to being occasionally snitty. In contrast, Donald Trump is an awful president who routinely displays the immaturity of an infant.

That cannot be right. Either it is ok for a President to lash at his critics in this way or it isn't. Either it is ok to call political adversaries names or it isn't; either it is ok to strip press credentials from critical reporters or it isn't. Neither the political position nor perceived quality of the President and administration should make a difference.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 25, 2019 at 03:27 PM in Culture, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


Isn't that like saying "either waiting periods are OK or they aren't" or "either having to show ID is OK or it isn't"?

Cause no professor believes that. People believe waiting periods are wrong in some cases--abortion--and right in others--firearms. People believe showing ID is wrong if you're going to vote, but OK if you're going to buy a gun.

In the same way, we'll excuse blackface by a democrat--Trudeau--but not by a republican.

Moore's Law is that politicians will double the standards for their party every two years, or election cycle.

Posted by: Moore Law | Oct 25, 2019 6:55:49 PM

Bartlett was a good president? He concealed a degenerative illness that affects brain function in order to win an election. In addition, his wife--a renowned doctor--assisted in the coverup and violated the medical ethics boards of three states and Bartlett (and, by extension Sorkin, tried to make out like Abby was unfairly punished?)

You also should mention that Bartlett brags about having reporters reassigned to phenomenally dangerous places (Yemen) for contacting his children. While we may applaud Bartlett's attempt to keep his children separate from the office, I think we can agree that intentionally having a reporter reassigned to a place where the reporter is likely to get killed goes way beyond protecting your children and crosses fairly into having your political opponents executed.

Just imagine if Trump, for example, had Acosta reassigned to combat reporting in Syria...

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Oct 25, 2019 6:09:39 PM

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