In this week’s politics chat, we examine to what extent prejudice is driving support for Donald Trump. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
micah (Micah Cohen, politics editor): Today’s question for your consideration: Is Hillary Clinton’s comment that half of Donald Trump’s supporters fall into a “basket of deplorables” of racists, sexists, homophobes and xenophobes accurate?
Trump is currently earning about 40 percent in national polls. So half of that is about 20 percent of the electorate — one-fifth. A lot of people are focusing on that number. But, before we dive into the data, let’s talk about the reaction to the comment. One thing that stood out to me about the press coverage of her comments (and I’m far from the first person to say this): Much of the media seemed to be bending over backward to focus on her comment as a “gaffe” of some sort, rather than considering the content of what she said.
People were using the fact that it’s hard to measure prejudice (which is true) as a reason to not even try.
farai (Farai Chideya, senior writer): I personally think it was a gaffe, but that doesn’t mean allegations of bias are inaccurate. Any time you’re trying to win an election you can try to persuade voters or use them as tools — and demonize them. By that measure, this was a gaffe. But the coverage of her comments also reflected what I see as a resistance of the press in this election as well as generally to examine the persistence of racial bias in American society.
Nativism has risen in profile but, having covered the tea party and white supremacists for years, I’ve seen that racial animus is always present — sometimes it’s just more pronounced.
Many news reporters didn’t take the possibility …