Establishmentarians for Authoritariansim

by | Feb 19, 2020 | Elections

Sam Donaldson Seeks Bloomberg vs. Trump
Photo Gage Skidmore

Whatever the merits of this president, the nation’s powerful status quo types that made Donald Trump’s presidency possible are apoplectic about it. This is most recently supported by the coming out of former ABC News journalist Sam Donaldson with an extreme and explicit endorsement of Michael Bloomberg for president.

Donaldson, in an advertisement for Bloomberg, declares that he thinks Trump is unqualified to be president because he doesn’t understand the Constitution and he doesn’t care about people. Referring to defeating Trump, Donaldson adds that he thinks “Mike can get it done”.

This is the theme of Bloomberg’s candidacy—that, whatever his flaws, mistakes and risks, Bloomberg will first vanquish Trump and proceed to enact whatever “it” means to the voter. In other words, the ends justify the means. What are the ends? From beverage and gun to climate control, Bloomberg seeks total government control of the exercise of the individual’s free will.

At his best, Sam Donaldson was a mediocre reporter. The longtime White House correspondent and co-host for ABC’s Sunday talk show made credible reports during his career. However, in general, Donaldson embodies the downfall of the press, which went from journalism to sensationalism. This regression was catapulted by Donaldson’s ABC boss Roone Arledge, who fathered the entertainment journalism that feeds and dumbs down, divides, sensationalizes and contaminates today’s toxic, asinine and coarsened culture.

Theatrical Donaldson is among the first media types to become famous merely for being in media. The title of his memoir, “Hold on, Mr. President!” underscores the vacuous mixture of entertainment and journalism that spawned Trump’s 15-year pseudo-reality TV ratings success and election as president.

“You’re fired!” and “Hold on, Mr. President!” belong to the same vacant, anti-intellectual brand of catchphrase, stressing the sensational at the expense of the meaningful.

Sam Donaldson selling out his integrity for sensationalism made way for today’s media pundit culture of false dichotomies, nanosecond coverage and the substitution of objective reporting for pseudo-breaking news, bias and nonstop commentating—which makes media coverage of Trump’s worst transgressions an endlessly looping perceptual opiate for today’s mindless society.

Sam Donaldson’s snappy put-downs gave rise to today’s tragic-comic put-down cult of everyone from Colbert, Gutfeld and Saturday Night Live’s stable of snark to Donald Trump.

Why replace one vulgar New York City president with another? Sam Donaldson makes no principled, rational argument. His case redounds to countering Trump’s cronyism with…Bloomberg’s statism. This is what passes for the Democrats’ premise: our authoritarian beats your presumed authoritarian.

This is what drives the Democrats’ apoplexy over Trump; they crave total government control of people’s lives.

That Trump seeks to govern as an authoritarian is the most serious claim against him. This is a legitimate concern, though I don’t think it seriously applies to Trump’s presidency, which, it should be noted, I opposed — early, often and not merely as a whisper. Given Bloomberg’s record, he is the true authoritarian. If facts and evidence matter, Bloomberg is, by any serious judgment, more likely to act as a dictator; by comparison, Bloomberg will make Trump look like a Constitutional scholar.

Without exception, Trump’s opponents’ outbursts mirror their criticism of Trump; they amount to superficial vulgarities. But tantrums are not an argument. If the 2020 presidential election is a contest between infantile cronies seeking power for power’s sake, Bloomberg is demonstrably more statist than Trump—which is to say that Bloomberg, as against Trump, proposes to entrench the status quo as a kind of regime.

Relics of American statism’s establishment, such as 52-year media figure Sam Donaldson, are reduced to expelling emotionalism. But note that the anti-Trump tantrums foreshadow the dictatorship they seek, expect and aim to construct.

Scott Holleran's writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Classic Chicago, and The Advocate. The cultural fellow with Arts for LA interviewed the man who saved Salman Rushdie about his act of heroism and wrote the award-winning “Roberto Clemente in Retrospect” for Pittsburgh Quarterly. Scott Holleran lives in Southern California. Read his fiction at and read his non-fiction at

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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