In the Trump era, news doesn’t break, it invades. It doesn’t respect nights or weekends.
Many journalists live at the whim of President Trump’s Twitter feed. A rattled off Friday afternoon tweet from Mr. Trump about banning TikTok or a late night hint of an executive order means a weekend of wild goose chases around answering a fundamental question: Can he even do that?
It’s not just journalists who feel this exhaustion. Over the last four years I’ve had countless conversations where friends, family, sources and random acquaintances remark that they’ve felt forced to learn about the minutiae of the government during the Trump administration: the Hatch Act, the emoluments clause, the parliamentary procedure of impeachment. Lately we’ve added epidemiology, medical supply chains and antigen testing.
This sudden literacy is not a result of a newfound passion for civics but a reaction to a torrent of lies and disinformation from the president and his associates. People are confused and scared. Norms and institutions they took for granted are under threat. They want to know: Can he even do that?
But the exhaustion feels more acute in recent days. For instance, Mr. Trump’s effort to cripple the U.S. Postal Service by denying it essential funding and by installing loyalists in executive positions who are behind cutting overtime and removing sorting machines and collection boxes. It’s an attempt, by the president’s own admission, to influence the November election by suppressing mail-in voting. The president has also tried to suggest that voting by mail is a new phenomenon (it is absolutely not).
Then there’s Mr. Trump’s choice to float the racist and baseless suggestion that Kamala Harris might not meet the citizenship requirements for the vice presidency, despite her being born in California. Other Republicans have followed suit and tried to dispute that Ms. Harris is Black. It’s an attempt that is, as my colleague Jamelle Bouie wrote, destined to fail. But the attacks are not really about winning in the so-called marketplace of ideas. [Continue reading…]