They need each other: The peacock left cries out for Trump's return to Twitter as interest in clickbait politics plummets

Bernie Sanders kicked off this past week with a plea for Donald Trump's return to Twitter - the platform Trump used to elevate lies about the birthplace of the country's first Black president, to ride to the White House, to act as the world's single largest source of misinformation about the coronavirus, and to eventually instigated his supporters into staging a (thankfully failed) coup against the United States. He wasn't "comfortable," Sanders said, with the fact that the then-current and now-former President of the United States could not express himself on Twitter.

Reminiscent of Elizabeth Warren's 2019 casual dismissal of now-Vice President Kamala Harris for suggesting Trump should have been banned from social media then, Sanders's lament for the sweet, sweet return of a wannabe-despot draped in the American flag but intent on destroying the republic itself, came with the usual groupies. Within a day of Sanders's expressed "unease," Rep. Ro Khanna, one of Bernie's closest lieutenants, appeared on Fox News Radio beg for Trump's return to Twitter as well.

Appearing on Brian Kilmeade's radio show, Khanna volunteered - entirely unprovoked - the pretense that there is some kind of problem with tech platforms "censoring" speech. Platforms should not be allowed to 'censor' people, playing into the white grievance of the Fox News audience that insurrectionists deserve better than to be 'canceled.' Kilmeade followed up with a question about whether Donald Trump should be allowed back on the mainstream social media platforms, and Khanna, with once again perfect obedience to the white-grievanced Fox audience, said that he should be, as long as he commits to not inciting violence with it. Because clearly, Trump's years of history of fomenting violence and spreading deadly misinformation that culminated in one insurrection isn't enough; we really need to give him a chance to see if he can get his supporters to actually hang some government officials next time.

Khanna and Sanders's insane appeals to reinstate giant, private megaphones for the singularly most destructive and violent figure in American politics comes at a time when many peacock progressives on social media are calling for the same insane thing, led by Vox Co-Founder Matthew Yglesias who is pretending Trump's suspension was only for the purpose of facilitating a peaceful transfer of power in the aftermath of 1/6.

Thought through logically and factually, there is no reason to be 'uneasy' from Trump's social media bans simply because he used to be president. In fact, it was his prior survival on social media despite repeatedly violating every standard that would get anyone else banned for life that should be of concern. If Sanders, Khanna, and Yglesias truly believe that in a democracy the president should be subject to the same rules and standards of conduct as the average citizen, then isn't the real problem the fact that he was given special treatment so he could stay on social media for as long as he did and not that, for once, he was forced to face the consequences of like anyone else?

Likewise, Donald Trump should have no special claim to reinstatement as the former president or even as the current cult leader with way too many followers.

I submit that this push to get Trump back on social media has much less to do with feigned concerns about 'censorship' - which, our venerated members of Congress may want to note, under the First Amendment, is not something Congress can legislate on a private platform, since Congress mandating speech on private platforms is no different from Congress banning it - and much more to do with the effect President Biden is having on the sensationalist slugfest that passes for journalism in our country, that is, a negative one. The far left, as much as the far right, as well as the media allies of political sensationalism masquerading as 'coverage,' relies on constant, manufactured conflict to survive and thrive.

Cable networks are seeing a major slump in viewership, and while Fox News appears to have regained the overall primetime ratings lead, it appears only to be gaining back some of the viewers it lost to farther-right pro-Trump networks like Newsmax and OANN now that Trump has somewhat faded into the background. Even with the gains, Fox's viewership is still down, as is CNN's. On MSNBC, All In With Chris Hayes - the network's most notorious peacock progressive-aligned show, has suffered the worst loss.

This effect is magnified when it comes to leftist podcasts and YouTube channels that butter their bread from bashing "establishment" Democrats and often finding common ground with the Trumpian, fascist right. Subscriptions to former Bernie Sanders Press Secretary Birahna Joy Gray's podcast is down 70%, and the force-the-vote (on single payer health care) infamous Jimmy Doore's subs are down by almost half. Cosplay leftists are accusing YouTube of 'silencing' them by altering the algorithm, when the truth is that it was they that exploited the algorithm's bias for drama and if there has been a change to social media algorithms to devalue the junk food of news - and there is no definitive evidence that there has been - that is entirely for the good.

Political commentators who write and sell books capitalizing on theatrics and destabilizing drama haven't been spared, either. The Washington Post's Dave Weigel recently noted that a book written by well-known political pundits seeking to cast President Biden's historic victory as sheer, dumb luck never made it to the New York Times Best Seller list. Those same authors - NBC's Jonathan Allen and The Hill's Amie Parnes - held the #1 spot on the NYT list for two weeks after they released Shattered, a book that took sadistic pleasure at Hillary Clinton's unexpected loss of the presidency in 2016.

So the question is, what do you do when pure drama, theatrics, and reality TV masquerading as 'news' isn't cutting it anymore? What do you do when a competent president and a brilliant White House media operation has made it difficult to continue the media diet full of empty calories and hot air?

Things could go two ways. One could take the cooling of the jets as an auspicious sign in politics and return journalism to actual reporting on policy and current events - it's not like there is any lack of policy news, from the Biden administration's massive vaccination success to an economy that is poised to grow at unprecedented rates thanks to a stimulus passed with zero Republican votes.

But if real journalism, real reporting on the facts turns out to be too difficult - because reporting on actual policy in a competent government is both a bit boring and hard, detail-oriented work and drama and outrage draws more eyeballs with minimal effort - you could always try to revive the easy drama you have become accustomed to by trying to revive its source. And sure, Donald Trump may have been an unpatriotic crook who groveled at the feet of Vladimir Putin, maintained a secret Chinese bank account, called America's war dead suckers and losers, devastatingly failed the public health response to a pandemic, and set a violent, armed, seditious mob on the very seat of American democracy, but you can't say he ever left you wanting for drama and clickbait.

They want that gravy train back, damned be the very existence of democracy itself. They don't want to do the work. They don't want to report on policy. They don't want to be nuanced, and they definitely don't like the political heat that made them famous (and rich) suddenly cooling down.

That goes for everyone who seeks the limelight rather than the facts, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum, and it applies especially heavily to the ends of the horseshoe spectrum: the far right and the far left. If the radical right wants Trump back to on social media to give white grievance a louder, more violent voice, the socialist left wants Trump back just as badly so they can once again fashionably find common ground with insurrectionists or at the very least, sell long lectures about how only their way - which failed to win the Democratic nomination for president twice - is the only true way to fight back against Trump. Trump's return to social media could energize the Republican base or the 2022 midterms, an election the unhinged left wants badly for Democrats to lose because ultimately their agenda - the undermining of the Democratic party - is aligned with that of the right. 

The horseshoe theory of politics - the idea that the far ends of the political spectrum actually rather closely resemble each other - is more the reality every day, and the horseshoe left, the horseshoe right, and the infotainment culture all need each other to stay relevant.

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