The day after President Donald Trump announced he was abrogating America’s commitment to the Paris accord on climate change, Breitbart News covered the momentous decision with this headline: “Ted Cruz Busts Elon Musk for Flying Private Jet While Lecturing Trump on Global Warming.”
The story explained nothing about Trump’s dumb move, and yet it explains everything. If you are trying to understand why Trump put a gun to his country’s head, threatened to shoot, then pulled the trigger, all you had to do was read that story.
From the actual words, you would have learned that Musk, the CEO of Tesla and several other companies, tweeted that in response to Trump’s decision, he was quitting the president’s advisory council.
“Am departing presidential councils,” Musk wrote. “Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
In response, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted, “CA billionaires pledge to never again fly private, will only fly commercial.”
Cruz was pointing out what he considered Musk’s hypocrisy in criticizing Trump’s decision while flying around the world on private jets, which uses considerably more carbon-based fuel than flying commercial jets.
Get it? Trump World’s website-of-record didn’t look at the implications of Trump’s move, its potential effect on the fight against climate change, on America’s standing in the world, or even on Trump’s domestic support. It just regurgitated a single tweet that tried to show Elon Musk is a hypocrite.
Breitbart’s entire report after Trump’s pullout was a pathetic game of gotcha over Elon Musk’s private jet.
Never mind that, on substance, Cruz is wrong. Musk advocates the importance of reducing mankind’s carbon footprint, and he has done more than almost any human to help achieve that, from creating a groundbreaking electric car to reducing the price of lithium batteries to developing solar roof tiles, pioneering new forms of public transportation, and on and on. Balance all this against the need to zoom about his low-carbon empire on a Gulfstream and he’s as big a hypocrite as an ER doctor who drinks too much caffeine in order to treat the wounded during a disaster. It may not be setting the best example, but people are dying.
The planet is dying, too, but that’s not what concerns Breitbart. The narrative it’s pushing isn’t that the Paris accord is wrong, or the effects of man-made climate change are overstated, or they’re not but here’s a better way to address it. Those positions would be suspect, but smart conservatives could present strong arguments on their behalf. Breitbart didn’t even bother to show that Trump was right.
All it did was stick out its tongue at Elon Musk. Why? Because the real enemy is not bad policy, but the elites. The know-it-alls. The people who may not be smarter and cooler than Breitbart’s readers, but those whom Breitbart’s readers think are smarter and cooler.
Trump doesn’t know a thing about climate change policy or the Paris accord, which was joined by President Barack Obama. He proved that with his claim that “the nonbinding Paris accords” impose “draconian financial and economic burdens” on the United States. Even the 28 percent of Americans who support his pullout understand that an agreement that is nonbinding can’t also be draconian. But Trump doesn’t care about reasons, and neither do they. He knows what his people want: to stick it to Obama. To thumb their noses at Obama’s supporters. To rub victory in the face of “the left” — even if “victory” means a more dangerous planet for their children and grandchildren.
That explains why Breitbart’s entire report after Trump’s pullout was a pathetic game of gotcha over Elon Musk’s private jet. Musk is one of “them” — an urban intellectual with an un-American-sounding name, the kind of guy who invariably gets in trouble when he flies his Dassault into some rural air strip — “You’re not from around here, are ya?” In other words, Musk fits to a T the profile of the kind of person fascist movements have targeted at least since Mussolini.
By the way, the same is true of Sadiq Khan, the London mayor whom Trump trolled after last week’s horrific terror attack on that city. Why, everyone wondered, would Trump pick a fight on demonstrably false pretenses with a mayor doing heroic work in crisis conditions? Because Khan is an urban intellectual with a nonnative-sounding name. Worse, a Muslim. The attack wasn’t against the facts, it was for Trump’s base.
And guess what website echoed Trump’s fake charge against the Muslim mayor, squeezing the lies between ads for erection pills, survival kits and $6.95 Confederate flags?
Trump’s grand policy promises are crumbling all around him. The Russian investigations are not cooling down, they are heating up. The men and women who serve him are busy with leaks and infighting. Senior officials in the State Department are resigning.
All Trump has left is the fervid base that cheered him on and got him where he is. And facts, truth and logic be damned, he will keep feeding them, because he knows what they want, and he knows whom they hate.
Rob Eshman is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email
him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @foodaism