MSNBC contributor claims mainstream media tried to make Trump seem 'not so bad': 'Cleaned up' his rhetoric

Jennifer Rubin said the media failed to be honest about him in attempting to create a 'false balance'

MSNBC contributor Jennifer Rubin said Saturday that the mainstream media tried to make Donald Trump seem "not so bad," and claimed the media "cleaned up" his rhetoric to normalize him.

Rubin, a Washington Post columnist, responded to MSNBC host Ali Velshi, who said "people don’t even want to watch clips of Donald Trump on our shows," citing feedback they received. Velshi added that Trump has been treated as a "quirky abstraction," rather than a threat to democracy.

"Well, I think two things are going on. One, this speaks to how badly the mainstream media has covered him. They have normalized him, they have cleaned up the rhetoric so he sounds in a clip or he reads in print much more coherent than he actually is. It’s only very recently that the mainstream media has been reporting on his really shocking totalitarian claims. But of course, he’s been this way all along," Rubin said.

"And I think because they have done such a bad job, because they have made an effort to treat the Republican Party like the Democratic Party, this notion that he’s not so bad, that he’s just kind of a cartoon character has set in. And that’s on the mainstream media, that’s on the failure to be honest and to side with truth rather than having this false balance," she continued. 

Jennifer Rubin

MSNBC contributor and Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin said Saturday the mainstream media has "normalized" Donald Trump by cleaning up his speeches and rhetoric.  (Screenshot/MSNBC)


Rubin also said Trump's supporters were part of a "fascist cult." 

"Let's be honest, there are a lot of them, but a lot of them does not mean that they are behaving logically or rationally. To the contrary, we’ve seen in other fascist regimes, that millions of people, sometimes even a majority of the country, becomes intoxicated with an authoritarian figure, and these people are utterly irrational," she continued. 

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow told viewers that they would not air Trump's speech after he was projected to win the Iowa caucuses.

"The reason I’m saying this is, of course, there is a reason that we and other news organizations have generally stopped giving an unfiltered, live platform to remarks by former President Trump," Maddow said. "It is not out of spite, it is not a decision that we relish, it is a decision that we regularly revisit. And honestly, earnestly, it is not an easy decision."

Former President Donald Trump New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump points to supporters at the conclusion of a campaign rally at the Atkinson Country Club on January 16, 2024, in Atkinson, New Hampshire. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)


She went on to claim that airing Trump's "untrue" statements live on television hurts MSNBC's brand.

"But there is a cost to us, as a news organization," Maddow said, "of knowingly broadcasting untrue things. That is a fundamental truth of our business and who we are. And so, his remarks, tonight, will not air here live. We will monitor them and let you know about any news that he makes."

Donald Trump campaigns in New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Atkinson, N.H., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

After winning the Iowa caucuses, Trump said he was "honored" by the victory. 

"It really is an honor that, minutes after, they’ve announced I’ve won—against very credible competition—great competition, actually," Trump said.

He added: "It is a tremendous thing and a tremendous feeling."

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