After Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, Arianna Huffington said on Monday that The Huffington Post would be shifting its coverage of the candidate out of the entertainment section to “remind our audience who Trump is and what his campaign really represents.”
She continued, “If Trump’s words and actions are racist, we’ll call them racist. If they’re sexist, we’ll call them sexist. We won’t shrink from the truth or be distracted by the showmanship.”
“Earlier today, the candidate currently leading in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination called for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,'” Huffington wrote. “That was, of course, Donald Trump. As Jeffrey Goldberg just tweeted, ‘Donald Trump is now an actual threat to national security. He’s providing jihadists ammunition for their campaign to demonize the US.'”
In July, The Huffington Post announced that their coverage of Trump’s campaign would go in the entertainment section and not in the politics section, on the grounds that they considered his campaign a “sideshow.”
“Since then Trump’s campaign has certainly lived up to that billing,” Huffington wrote. “But as today’s vicious pronouncement makes abundantly clear, it’s also morphed into something else: an ugly and dangerous force in American politics.”
The Huffington Post’s decision to relegate Trump to its entertainment section was before he rose to front-runner status, holding on to it since the summer and defying the conventional wisdom that prospective Republican voters would give him only a fleeting glimpse.
Huffington wrote, “Yes, there was certainly no shortage of ugly comments from the beginning, as he kicked off his campaign with outrageous comments about Mexicans. But at first, this over-the-top xenophobia, though disgusting, played as the sour shtick of a washed-up insult comic. Now that Trump, aided by the media, has doubled down on the cruelty and know-nothingness that defined his campaign’s early days, the ‘can you believe he said that?’ novelty has curdled and congealed into something repellent and threatening — laying bare a disturbing aspect of American politics. We believe that the way we cover the campaign should reflect this shift.”
Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigration in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., was condemned by some of his Republican rivals. John Kasich’s campaign called Trump’s rhetoric “dangerous and bad for America,” and the campaign launched an online petition condemning the candidate. Ted Cruz, gaining in the polls, told reporters, “Well, that is not my policy,” while Jeb Bush tweeted that Trump is “unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious.”
Bernie Sanders, running for the Democratic nomination, said in a statement, “Demagogues throughout our history have attempted to divide us based on race, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin. Now, Trump and others want us to hate all Muslims. The United States is a great nation when we stand together. We are a weak nation when we allow racism and xenophobia to divide us.”
Hillary Clinton called Trump’s proposal “reprehensible, prejudiced and divisive” and said that it “makes us less safe.”
Addressing the San Bernardino shootings on Sunday, President Obama noted that it’s the “responsibility of all Americans, of every faith, to reject discrimination.” He cautioned against singling out Muslims, saying that ISIL “does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers.”
Huffington suggested that even though Trump was not “the only candidate out there spouting extreme and irresponsible messages,” he was in a unique position because of his coverage across all media.
“By not calling out Trump’s campaign for what it is, many in the media, addicted to the ratings buzz he continues to deliver, have been legitimizing his ugly views,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, several political commentators predicted that Trump’s proposal would mark the start of a downward swing of his standing in the polls. The same prognostications, however, have been made many times before.