As cable TV news networks fire people left and right, how about firing Donald Trump?

From 2016 onward, the cable networks all treated him as the ultimate celebrity, staking out airports to cover his arrivals and departures as if he were somebody truly important, Gene Lyons writes.

SHARE As cable TV news networks fire people left and right, how about firing Donald Trump?
Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests via video link on April 22 at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kick-Off in Clive, Iowa.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests via video link on April 22 at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kick-Off in Clive, Iowa.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Now that the cable TV news networks are firing people left and right, how about if they fire Donald Trump? Sure, he can be a short-term ratings booster, but what about the long-term costs? If Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon could be shown the door, why not the most ubiquitous talking head of them all?

Most Americans would be relieved to see him go. Even some of those who think of themselves as MAGA loyalists would find themselves sleeping better if the head agitator were absent from their TV screens.

What’s more, CNN is as responsible for Trumpian overkill as Fox News. So is MSNBC. From 2016 onward, the cable networks all treated him as the ultimate celebrity, staking out airports to cover his arrivals and departures as if he were somebody truly important.

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The pope, say, or the Rolling Stones.

They were at it again during Trump’s recent arraignment in a New York courtroom. CNN stationed cameras at the airport and broadcast aerial shots of the Trump motorcade as it proceeded to Trump Tower, the eponymous office building where the great man oversaw his many bankrupt enterprises while his minions took meetings with Russian agents.

Although Trump warned that his indictment could bring “potential death and destruction,” his actual court appearance turned into a humdrum event. As predicted here, MAGA toughs proved unwilling to mix it up with the NYPD. From a city block away, Michelle Goldberg wrote, she couldn’t tell that anything was going on. The most diverting news was something anybody with two functioning eyes had noticed long ago: The great man’s a couple of inches shorter and roughly 30 pounds heavier than he’s claimed.

Polls say most Republicans believe Trump’s being prosecuted for political reasons. How long that perception will last, as the indictments and court appearances mount up, is hard to say. Not forever, I suspect.

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Should a New York jury find that he raped magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll — grabbed her by the [genitals], as a coarse braggart might say — some measurable percentage of Trump’s women voters are apt to decide they’ve had enough.

Not for nothing are rival Republicans lining up to run against Trump. Long-shots like Nikki Haley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson would appear to have little chance of winning a GOP primary. But neither will be sued for rape nor indicted for conspiracy. You can bet on that.

Somebody’s got to win. Why not them?

Meanwhile, the world’s biggest crybaby is pitching his appeal to those who see themselves as victimized by anybody who’s allowed to disagree with them — essentially that aggrieved portion of white America traumatized by, and unable to recover from, the election of Barack Obama. The kind for whom wearing a mask in the face of a global pandemic was an intolerable affront to liberty.

Soreheads, small-time bullies and conspiracy theorists.

“In 2016, I declared I am your voice,” Trump said in a recent speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and then repeated at a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, weeks later. “Today, I add: I am your warrior, I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

Achtung! Is he running for president, or Fuhrer?

Also in Waco, he got more specific about what that retribution would consist of: “Together, we are going to finish what we started. With you at my side, we will totally obliterate the deep state, we will banish the warmongers from our government, we will drive out the globalists, and we will cast out the communists and Marxists, we will throw off the corrupt political class, we will beat the Democrats, we will rout the fake news media, we will stand up to the RINOs, and we will defeat Joe Biden and every single Democrat.”

Obliterate, banish, drive out, cast out, rout. This kind of eliminationist rhetoric, the very essence of fascism, has long been foreign to the American political tradition. “I am your retribution,” the man says; he’s their savior and their revenge.

Their revenge for what, exactly? For “Drag Queen Story Hour”? For Bud Light in rainbow colors? For Rachel Maddow and “The View”?

Me, I agree with the views expressed privately by Tucker Carlson in text messages to a colleague that were revealed in the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News — the one where the network agreed to pay $787.5 million for broadcasting what Carlson knew to be Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

“What he’s good at is destroying things,” he wrote. “He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”

And later: “I hate him passionately ...” Still later: “He’s a demonic force, a destroyer.”

Whatever else may be true about Carlson, he’s got an undeniable way with words, wouldn’t you say?

Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of “The Hunting of the President.”

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