It's midnight in America
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CLEVELAND — Another Republican convention, another media miss.

Starting a full six months before the convention even began, the media was getting it all wrong.

"Brokered convention," they declared. "It will be contested! There will be a floor fight!"

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"Inside Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE's Dark Plan to Win a Brokered Convention," Vanity Fair warned menacingly in March, calling it the "art of the steal." Apparently, they are better at rhyming than telling the truth or understanding politics.

The media did not try to contain their gleeful enthusiasm for such a messy spectacle that would portray Republicans as dopey rubes who had been led over a cliff by an orange-haired, political pied piper. 

Even after Donald J. Trump sewed up the nomination — well before guaranteed heir-to-the-throne Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference Comey in op-ed after IG report: 'Barr needs to stop acting like a Trump spokesperson' Trump tops list of most tweeted about politicians in 2019 MORE did — political reporters continued to invent ways that the Republican Party would tear itself in half at their own convention.

When they could no longer keep that eroding narrative alive, they resorted to other, equally fantastic claims about all the chaos and mayhem that was sure to be sparked by Donald Trump's allegedly hateful rhetoric.

With the exception of that moron who lit himself on fire while trying to torch an American flag (Manifest Destiny?), there was very little chaos or mayhem at the convention.

Inside the arena or outside.

Outside, battalions of cops in riot gear had to mainly contend with Republican conventioneers stopping to thank them for their service. About the most physical anything got was when Republicans would try to shake officers' hands or high-five them or back-slap them as they passed by in riot gear. (NOTE: This is NOT a good idea, no matter how peaceful your intentions.)

In the days leading up to the convention, the media was still manufacturing farcical new ways that the #NeverTrumpers were supposedly going to use the rules committee to somehow strip Trump of the nomination. This gambit, orchestrated by sore loser supporters of Senator Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference GOP counsel says both Ukraine, Russia interfered in 2016 U.S. elections MORE, never held the slightest glimmer of realistic hope.

In the end, it had the same chances of success as one of the Texas senator's high profile filibusters to defund Obamacare: Zero.

As each media mirage evaporated into thin air, reporters groped about in search of other things to gripe about. The convention was disorganized. Speakers were going long and the schedule was all off. The jumbotron went on the fritz.

Basically, Donald Trump wasn't even officially the Republican nominee and America was already going to hell in a hand basket, according to them.

Then came media manna from heaven. Melania-gate. Her speech contained several lines of political pablum that had clearly been lifted from First Lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama issues statement praising Paul Volcker Michelle Obama: Do I think US can come back from Trump impeachment? 'Oh yeah' Obamas buy home on Martha's Vineyard MORE's speech in 2008.

Oh, the maelstrom that followed! Never mind that it was a terrific speech delivered by a steely woman speaking her fifth language.

As Trump himself noted, too bad the press did not exert the same energy into investigating Hillary Clinton's rickety, illegal bathroom email server.

When — predictably — it became clear that blame for the flub belonged at the feet of a well-intentioned, low-level speechwriter within the Trump organization, the press would not relent.

One reporter from the New York Times actually opined publicly on CNN about how much it would hurt Trump among Republican conventioneers that his wife acknowledged taking inspiration from the First Lady's speech. These people really need to get out more.

All of this web-spinning and hand-wringing in the media reached fever pitch for the grand finale: Trump’s 76-minute speech that was so chock full of specifics and policy platforms that it had to be backed up by 282 footnotes.

For over a year now, we have heard the media complain endlessly about how Donald Trump doesn’t spell out his policy positions or cite specifics. Well, by Thursday night, they had moved on. Not a word about all the specifics. They were not thumbing through the pages and pages of footnotes.

Instead, they invented a whole new line of attack. Trump is all “doom and gloom.” It was a “dark speech.” Evoked Hitler. “Vengeful demagogue.” Junta leader of a “banana republic.”

It was “midnight in America.”

Okay, fine. There were certainly parts of Trump’s speech that were plenty grim. But the whole reason for Trump’s successful campaign in the first place — as well as Bernie SandersBernie SandersLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal Gabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE — is that Donald Trump so effectively captured the cruel grimness that has gripped so much of America in recent years.

The media may be oblivious to this despair. Establishment politicians may flat-out ignore it. But none of that makes it untrue. As with everything else this election cycle, they are just the last to take it seriously.

Hurt writes the "Nuclear Option" column for The Washington Times. A former D.C. bureau chief for the New York Post, he has covered the White House, Congress and presidential campaigns since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @charleshurt.


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