As he has repeatedly through his destructive media tour, Trump started off the next attack with a highly dubious claim to knowledge: "I heard..." He heard that Obama was a lousy student, and he expects the press to receive this great utterance as proof of his assertion, which he then uses to set up his next question: How could he have gotten into Columbia and Harvard?
As he slowed down for effect, as if he anticipated leading an adoring chorus, he asked, "Why doesn't he release his Occidental records?"
Unfortunately, the press was two steps behind. A reporter asked whether he was making up his claims of birther investigators in Hawaii - of course, as Jon Stewart pointed out, he never answered the question. But as a result, left unquestioned was the new accusation based on hearsay.
Yes, Trump's message is one of thinly veiled racism, as so many liberal pundits have pointed out. But his tactics are those of McCarthyism. Joseph McCarthy, famous red-baiter, was infamous for having said "I have here in my hand . . . a list of names..." Just as McCarthy claimed to have documentation of communists in the U.S. government, Trump gets away with merely saying "I heard," without real challenges.
Sure, Anderson Cooper made a valiant, if too polite, attempt to challenge Trump when he was on Cooper's show. Trump claimed that "somebody" told him that Obama's birth certificate was missing. When Cooper asked who, Trump refused to say. Frankly, I would think that would have justified throwing Trump off the air, as Lawrence O'Donnell just did with Orly Taitz. Who else would get away with putting such flimsy evidence out there again and again, earning more free media exposure each time?
What does this say about MSM standards? What exactly are Trump's qualifications for being interviewed anyway? He inherited a lot of money, and he claims to be thinking about running for president? Can anyone commandeer oodles of air time just by making a similar claim? Where will this lead?
McCarthy is, of course, a dim memory - if that at all - for anyone younger than baby boomer age. Obviously, seasoned members of the press remember his unraveling well. It would be nice to see this sense of history brought up in the discussion of Trump. Perhaps it would cut short the Trump circus, and relegate him to the place in history he deserves - as a disgraced race-baiter.