It Was the Most Horrible Year Ever
There are two ways of looking at the last 12 months. You can lie about it, as most Fox News anchors and right-wing media pundits do every night. Or you can tell the truth about it, as ABC’s Jonathan Karl does in his powerful new book, “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.”
We all tend to want to put bad news behind us. But if you’ve been lulled into thinking 2020 was just another bad year, please – read this book! You’ll be blown away, as I was. You’ll realize that 2020 was the most horrible year ever – and we’re lucky America survived it.
Read “Betrayal.” You’ll be reminded of the many ways Donald Trump did, in fact, betray his country: what a disaster he was and what a danger he still is. You’ll be stunned by how close we came to losing our democracy and still are. You’ll be struck over how lucky we are to have Trump out of the Oval Office and off Twitter, but also over what challenges we still face as long as Trump and his rabid followers continue to undermine the Constitution.
We all lived through it. But Jonathan Karl had a big advantage over the rest of us. He experienced 2020 from the front row of the White House briefing room, with direct access to all the top people in the Trump administration, starting with Orange Man himself. From that perspective, and through his Pulitzer-Prize-worthy reporting, Karl will convince you things were even worse than you thought. Trump was more evil than you thought. The people around him, even more cowardly than you thought.
Trump’s not the only villain in the piece. Karl documents how Trump systematically got rid of anybody who dared disagree with him, and surrounded himself with a robotic band of yes-men and women. Chief among them, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who bought into every nutty conspiracy Trump latched onto – even going so far as to order Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen to investigate rumors that two men in an Italian prison had rigged the entire election for Joe Biden. Rosen refused.
Karl also takes particular aim, and rightfully so, at White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the least credible and most dishonest person ever to hold that office. It was McEnany who convinced Trump that because of COVID-19 – the worst public health crisis this country ever faced – he was bound to get re-elected. Why? Because now he would not have to talk about “health care” anymore. Only Trump could follow, or believe, that logic.
Of course, the nuttiest of all were the band of lunatics Trump himself appointed to lead his desperate campaign to overturn the November 3 election: Rudy Giuliani, Lin Wood, Michael Flynn, and Sidney Powell, who herself cooked up the theory that votes were counted – in Germany! – by machines built in Venezuela with money from China, Cuba, and George Soros.
As Karl reports, there were a few good guys in the Trump orbit, notably: first Chief of Staff John Kelly, who suggested invoking the 25th Amendment; Defense Secretary Mike Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, who refused to deploy the military to oversee the election; and even Attorney General Bill Barr, overall a Trump butt-kisser, but who nonetheless announced the Justice Department had found zero evidence of voter fraud.
Believe it or not, chief among the good guys: former Vice-President Mike Pence, who resisted enormous pressure from Trump not to accept the Electoral College results. Yet on January 6, Pence, for the first time, publicly broke with Trump, thereby saving the republic. And Trump will never forgive him. In an interview with Karl at Mar-a-Lago, Trump admitted telling Pence: “You can be a patriot, or you can be a p---y.” And he defended those terrorists at the Capitol on January 6 who chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” After all, Trump told Karl; “It’s common sense. The people were very angry.”
“Betrayal” is an important book. Not only because it’s such a gripping account of the last fateful year, including stuff we’d never heard before, but because it marks a significant turning point in American journalism. As Karl notes in his own case, with Trump he realized he had to drop any fear of being branded anti-Trump and simply tell the truth. “The simple truth about the last year of the Trump presidency,” Karl concludes, “is that his lies turned deadly and shook the foundations of our democracy.” And that’s the honest truth.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: email@example.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
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