Why Waleed Aly’s Lecture On Donald Trump Was Hypocritical & Patronising

I’m going to preface this one by saying that Waleed Aly has done a lot of good segments. That ISIL thing that went gangbusters viral last year? That was good. That piece slamming Peter Dutton and the rest of the Turnbull Government’s refugee policies that led to two refugees detained on Nauru setting themselves alight? That was good, too.

This latest piece on Donald Trump is not good.

Following the US Presidential Debate between an extremely qualified woman and an idiot, Aly took to his usual spot on ‘The Project‘ last night to talk about why #TrumpIsNoLaughingManner.

Those reasons include Trump’s comments on: women, Muslims, African Americans and Mexicans, although we would have also accepted ‘Hillary Clinton‘ and ‘his own daughter’ for answers.

And look, those are great. Solid reasons! Trump is bad! Except that literally everybody except for his diehard supporters already knows this and this whole segment became a horrendously patronising exercise in pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Plus, there’s the teeny tiny matter of Aly – and by extension, ‘The Project’ – getting uppity about sexism and racism when Steve Price is a regular face, i.e. the Q&A panellist who got into strife defending his mate Eddie McGuire‘s deadshit joke about drowning journalist Caroline Wilson.

Aly’s greatest strength lies in explaining highly contentious issues where there’s a lot of noise coming from a lot of people – say, for example, the horrendously racist Adam Goodes booing debacle when instigators were explaining they’re ‘not racist’, or the way our immigration policy actively seeks to put genuine refugees in harm’s way when our own Government is making information particularly hard to come by.

Aly saying that it’s time to stop making jokes about Trump because we’re letting him ‘get away’ with this shit is simplistic in the extreme. (There are literally thousands of pieces on Trump’s performance yesterday alone.)

Here’s how Aly ended his piece last night:

“We’ve spent the last 15 months since Trump announced he was running for president laughing at him, and it seemed the only appropriate response for someone so ludicrous. And sure, satire can be an effective tool to reveal the limitations of our political leaders. But the problem in this case is that we’ve been laughing when we should have been taking a breath.

“By treating Trump like a clown we failed to recognise him as a potential president. We all need to change that, me included, even though we’re on the other side of the world and our coverage of the US election won’t even register on Trump’s radar, we feel that as part of the media, we can’t continue to be so narrow in our thinking, in our reporting, in our analysis. You deserve better than that, and we need to own up to that.

“Donald Trump hasn’t been a laughing matter for a long time so we’re making this commitment between now and the election: no more jokes about Trump. Because sexism is no laughing matter, racism is no laughing matter, inciting violence is no laughing matter, sexual assault is no laughing matter and for those reasons and sadly many more, Donald Trump is no laughing matter.”

The assumption that Trump’s policies have gone unchecked by the media because it’s too busy laughing at him is untrue. The assumption that laughing at Trump somehow detracts from this is absurd.

For example, here’s the most retweeted Tweet from the debate last night, in response to Trump’s call for Muslims to report any “hatred” they witness:

So yeah, Aly’s lecturing hasn’t been met with the warmest of responses – and that’s ignoring all the pro-Trump, anti-Hillary, xenophobic commenters that have come out of the woodwork in droves.

And as for the idea that it’s time to stop joking about Donald Trump…. uh, no one tell John Oliver, okay?

Photo: The Project.