Congratulations, People magazine! The entertainment weekly was first out of the gate in the race among publications eager to normalize President-elect Donald Trump. Less than an hour after Hillary Clinton delivered a remarkably graceful concession speech, People’s official Twitter account tweeted a link to a slideshow titled, “22 Photos of Ivanka Trump and Her Family That Are Way Too Cute.” (It has since been updated to “27 Photos of Ivanka Trump and Her Family That Are Way Too Cute.”)
Needless to say, not everyone finds Ivanka Trump and her family with New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner “cute.” Sure, Trump and Kushner’s kids are, like most small children, pretty photogenic. But Trump and Kushner both played key roles in the most hate-filled presidential campaign in modern history. They worked tirelessly to elect a demagogue who, if he carries out even a fraction of his campaign promises, will do more damage to civil liberties in this country than any president since Nixon. (He might even do more damage than Nixon! It’s honestly impossible to tell at this point.) They failed to recognize that her father’s trigger-happy, narcissistic personality makes him uniquely unqualified to hold the most powerful office in the world. If Trump and Kushner were just another thirtysomething Manhattan power couple, then sure, maybe their family could be considered “cute.” But Trump and Kushner, more than anyone else, normalized Donald’s patent unfitness for the presidency.
And now, People is normalizing their moral bankruptcy by pretending that they are just average celebrities, as harmless as the Kardashians. This is particularly galling because, as you’ll recall, People writer Natasha Stoynoff published a first-person essay in the magazine less than a month ago detailing her alleged assault by Donald in 2005. At the time, People editor-in-chief Jess Cagle issued a statement in support of Stoynoff reading, “We stand steadfastly by her, and are proud to publish her clear, credible account of what happened.” While it was politically expedient to stand by Stoynoff as she braved ad hominem attacks by Trump’s army of misogynistic supporters, People stood by her. Now that it is politically expedient to fawn over Trump and his family, People has thrown Stoynoff under the bus.
If you believe that Donald Trump is a dangerous authoritarian whose ascendancy to political power poses an unprecedented threat to liberal democracy, then puff pieces like People’s slideshow are unacceptable. The media must not normalize Trump. He is not like any other president, and so journalists—even celebrity journalists—cannot treat him like any other president. If you want a robust free press to survive under President Trump, support publications that refuse to kiss his ass. Don’t give your money to any publication that calls anything associated with Trump “cute.”