One of the challenges for journalists on the trail covering any presidential campaign is that the stump speeches become a sort of metronomic monotony. After a few weeks or months of hearing the same themes and the same canned lines over and over, you begin to listen only for what is new or different, and everything else becomes background noise. This isn’t a news flash. It’s just one of the hazards of the job, but in a real sense it colors the coverage in its own way.
Which brings us to Trump.
Because it’s a Saturday, I just had a chance to listen to most of Trump’s speech in Tampa this morning. It was the first time in weeks that I had heard an extended stretch of a Trump rally. Usually it’s snippets amid a thousand small interruptions. Somehow in my mind Trump had been toning things down. But wow that’s not really true at all. We’ve just become numbed to some of this rhetoric, with all the dangers of normalization that go with it. It infects the coverage of Trump, even with him all but siccing the crowd on the press in attendance, though the press is one of only many targets, and hardly the most vulnerable.
Lauren Fox wrote up the this account of the speech. Lauren isn’t normally watching Trump speeches day in and day out either. Her account gives you some sense of how off the rails Trump continues to be, even this late in the election, even as everyone keeps talking about him having “behaved” for the last several days, even as the election has tightened significantly.