Guest: Andrea Grimes warns about the TX GOP's insane new party platform being underplayed by mainstream media; Also: Primary election results from MT, NJ, NM, SD, IA and DC...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2024, 6:50pm PT  

Far-right Republicans in the Lone Star State are telling us about their extreme plans. Why are both state and national media downplaying them? We discuss on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST UP... The Presidential Primary season comes to a close this week, with Tuesday's contests in New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa and D.C. (Though Democrats in Guam and the Virgin Islands still have a chance to ring in this weekend! And non-Presidential primaries will continue in many states in the week's ahead!) We've got some of your noteworthy results fron Tuesday today, such that there are any, including Presidential results reflecting small, if notable numbers of voters on each sides of the aisle who remain dissatisfied with both President Biden and convicted felon Donald Trump as their party's nominee.

THEN... This week, lawmakers in the very narrowly GOP-controlled chambers of Arizona's state legislature became the latest such body to try and pass new laws mimicking Texas' Senate Bill 4. That law, currently under federal challenge by the Biden Administration, grants unprecedented authority to state and local law enforcement officials to arrest people suspected of being in the country unlawfully and allows state judges to deport them. Those are roles traditionally played by federal, not state, officials. In Arizona, the Democratic Governor vetoed a similar effort earlier this year, so GOP lawmakers are now moving to place the measure on the state's already very long November ballot.

What happens in the increasingly radicalized state of Texas, unfortunately, does not stay in Texas, where Republicans hold solid majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, every single statewide office (since 1994), and every seat on the state Supreme Court. Those Republicans have only become more radical with each passing year, as evidenced by the state GOP's horrifying official party platform [PDF] adopted at their recent state party convention.

Just a few of the many planks, among others, call for doctors to be charged with homicide for carrying out an abortion; the Bible to be taught by chaplains in public schools; the deportation of noncitizens living lawfully in the country if they happen to participate in the wrong public protest; the withdraw of the U.S. from the United Nations and the organization's removal from U.S. soil.

Perhaps most disturbing (at least to me), the manifesto calls for a new law to mandate that statewide officials must win not only a majority in the state, but majorities in more than half of Texas' 254 counties in order to win office. That measure, if turned into law, would make it largely impossible for any Democrat to ever win statewide office again, given that the vast majority of the state's liberals are populated in a handful of large counties that are home to the state's major cities. Texas would become a one party state.

The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty this week described the TX GOP party platform as "hair-raising" and a sign that the state GOP has "gone off the deep end". But, at the same time, she marginalizes the document as "not a serious policy road map."

It is not only national media downplaying it. The Austin American Statesman describes the platform as little more "a wish list...than a road map that will be lawmakers in Austin or Washington". The otherwise excellent Texas Tribune similarly downplays the stated threats to democracy (and just about everything else) in their own coverage.

But our guest today, ANDREA GRIMES, an Austin-based journalist and activist who has been covering state GOP conventions since 2010, argued in an op-ed at MSNBC late last week that such views by major media outlets "aren’t merely outdated. They’re patently incorrect, contradicted by demonstrable evidence that the Texas GOP platform has been driving policy in Texas and beyond not just recently, but for several years."

She joins us to detail that case today, warning that while all of these planks may sound crazy, increasingly radicalized and extremist Republicans and their office holders in Texas "and beyond" are telling us exactly what they plan to do and have a record, going back years now, of enacting into law some of the state GOP party's most appalling measures. Once fringey ideas that began as little more than seemingly buffoonish platform planks dismissed by media outlets as sops to the party's most extremist elements have since become mainstream Republican party orthodoxy and enacted into law in Texas and many other states. The failure by mainstream media to notice and warn that "these people are not messing around" continues to ill-serve the nation.

Grimes details how the problem goes back to at least the "Tea Party" days and the "white racist reactionary political movement" that rose up in response to the nation's first Black President. But that has accelerated, she says, since 2016 "with the rise of Trump" and "a Republican Party that is living its best, most crazy life at this point, achieving win after win in terms of policy."

So why are these state GOP party platforms, much of which have become law in recent years, still being downplayed by editors at mainstream state and national media outlets, rather than being regarded as the warnings that they are?

"The phrase that continues to come into my head over and over is 'normalization bias'," Grimes tells me. "It's very difficult to come to grips with the true terrors of our political reality because they are outrageous. It is outrageous for Samuel Alito to be flying an upside-down American flag at his home. It is outrageous for Trump to foment an insurrection. It's outrageous for insurrectionists to storm the U.S. Capitol. These things are outrageous. And I think there's a sense among members of the mainstream media that, if they can strive to pursue the maintenance of objectivity and normalization, that things will somehow even out on their own, and they won't be asked to truly describe the world as it is. They won't be asked to go into this uncomfortable place of appearing biased, when in fact they would simply be describing reality."

"American journalism is so rooted in this conceit of objectivity. It is so beholden to this idea," she adds. We've got much more to discuss along these lines today, including whether there is any analogue to this phenomenon on the Democratic side (spoiler alert: nope, nothing even close) and what, if anything, can now be done by Americans to stem the tide of radicalism, particularly if media outlets continue to fail call it out for what it is. It's a great conversation, I think, that I hope you tune in for!

FINALLY... Just before the close of today's show, news breaks out of Georgia that the state Appeals Court has placed a pause on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' sprawling conspiracy indictment against Trump and 18 co-conspirators for their alleged criminal scheme to steal the 2020 election in Georgia, as an appeal by the defendants to remove Willis from the case moves forward. Upshot for now: The case was highly unlikely, at this point, to get to trial before November. Now it absolutely won't.


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