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Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Filling the Void in Media’s Appetite Set by Trump

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) in Washington, D.C., January 3, 2021 (Erin Scott/Reuters)

My opposition to Marjorie Taylor Greene is so fervent and all-encompassing that if instantly vaporizing her headlines with the Jewish Space Laser that she believes exists were an option, I would endorse that galactic-level rebuke.

However, it is worth recognizing that a national political news media that have spent five and a half years enjoying wildly high television ratings, huge web traffic, and boosts in newspaper circulation, and that served up heaping scoops of  “Can you believe this crazy thing that Donald Trump just said?” now find themselves with a former president who is no longer on Twitter and who has been uncharacteristically quiet since leaving office. Since mid 2015, media organizations and their audiences became conditioned to expect a daily sugar rush of shock, outrage, amusement, and reassurance that the Democrats are the good, wise, ethical and sane party, and that Republicans are crazy and harmful.

Without Trump, that void needs to be filled — and Marjorie Taylor Greene is more than happy to step into that overhyped role in national political scene. She’s terrible, but the media that think it is exposing and denouncing her is, at least on some level, empowering her. She’s getting a hell of a lot more attention than, say, the 20 senators of both parties who put together a bipartisan alternative COVID-relief package.

The current allegedly denunciatory saturation coverage of her is akin to the national media’s coverage of Trump from 2015 to the end of the GOP primaries. CNN and MSNBC and the big network news institutions didn’t know or care that by making the overwhelming majority of their GOP primary coverage about Trump, they were helping him win support. CBS chief executive officer Leslie Moonves famously said the Trump campaign “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” That mentality has not departed from the nation’s newsrooms.

The craziest member of Congress is definitely newsworthy, but it’s not the biggest story in the country or even the biggest story in Washington right now. Congress has had plenty of nutty members in its history. Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia feared that the island of Guam would tip over if too many U.S. forces were deployed there. Sheila Jackson Lee famously asked if the Mars Pathfinder rover would be able to see the flag that Neil Armstrong had left there. Jim Traficant once admitted that he had taken money from the mob, but only so that his opponent wouldn’t get the money. Yet none of those examples of congressional lunacy dominated a news cycle.

That much more proportional attention from the national press couldn’t possibly be connected to the “D” after their names, could it?

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