Let’s start with the big picture: Right-wing groups persistently engage in conduct for which Republicans are not held to account. The latter are allowed to remain silent after instances of conduct with a strong stench of white nationalism, but pay no penalty for their quietude. Right-wing demonstrators at Michigan’s statehouse this week — angrily shouting, not social distancing, misogynistic in their message, some carrying Confederate garb — were not engaged in peaceful protest. This was a mob endangering the health of police officers and others seeking to intimidate (small "d") democratic government. Some protesters compared Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) to Adolf Hitler and displayed Nazi symbols. Newsweek reported:
“What happened in Lansing today is dangerous in so many ways,” said Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee in a Thursday statement. “Today’s protest will come at the expense of public health. Protesters openly defied the advice of medical experts, putting their own lives and the health of all Michiganders at risk.”“The political rhetoric on display was also appalling. Republican elected officials compared Michigan’s stay at home order to the Holocaust, and protesters carried signs calling for the execution of those they disagree with. This behavior is especially appalling the week after Holocaust Remembrance Day. Every leader in our state must condemn the use of hate speech, racism or threats of violence,” Kildee added.“There was a lot of really disgusting symbols of hate,” Michigan Democratic Senator Dayna Polehanki told Newsweek in a Thursday interview. “You’ve got your Confederate flags still, disgusting, misogynistic signs about our governor, signs suggesting she may be killed . . . and then lots of people bearing arms.”
On Twitter, Trump insisted: “These are very good people, but they are angry.” Where was the media outrage? Where were the questions to every Republican member of the House and Senate? Could anyone imagine Black Lives Matter protesters, armed to the teeth and shouting disgusting comments about a Republican female governor, without the media demanding comment from Democrats? Once more, the media normalizes entirely abhorrent conduct from the right and fails to even try to hold Republicans to account.
Regarding claims of sexual harassment and assault, consider that Trump is not asked about the rape allegation made against him by E. Jean Carroll. He denied in 2019 knowing her and recycled a grotesque trope, namely that rape is about sexual attraction. “She’s not my type,” he declared during an interview with the Hill in 2019. She is currently suing him for defamation. Trump is not asked about this suit, about a similar lawsuit from Summer Zervos (based on his denial of her allegation that he groped her) or any other alleged assault or instance of harassment. He has never answered a bevy of questions (as Biden did Friday) on any, let alone all, of these allegations. What we get looks an awful lot like 2016: The media stops harping on Trump’s alleged, egregious wrongdoing but demands details and a full accounting from his opponent for the Democrats’ conduct.
The media has adopted the approach that a pattern of sexual harassment claims over decades is not relevant because Trump has denied them, yet they (properly) want investigated the single assault claim against Biden. Biden responded in an interview and in a lengthy written statement; the media insists these things have to be investigated further. They do not ask Trump’s campaign why the president does not respond to questions. They do not ask Republicans about Carroll, Zervos or others.
The media regularly deny the accusation that they normalize Trump’s conduct and insist they are “balanced," yet they have neglected to hold Trump accountable for his conduct, just as they regularly fail to hold Republicans to account for the protesters we now see around the country — some white nationalists, some sporting Confederate flags, and most refusing to following social distancing directives. Republicans have gotten very good at intimidating the media — “working the refs” — and it shows.