Is Trump’s epic downfall coming soon? Watch your phone

May 2, 2017 Originally published on SFGate

Are you one of the millions of Americans facing a new and sickening peril? It’s called “home screen fatigue,” and it’s what happens when the firehose of Trump-stabbed news alerts seem to turn your device into a single-minded spigot of misery and moral dread, interspersed with the weather.

As someone working in (well, near) MSM for nearly two decades, I’m probably more of a glutton than most: I currently allow more than a dozen news and culture outlets to throw alerts and updates onto to my iPhone’s lock screen, from the NYT to WaPo, Slate to Apple News, and I can fully attest: reaching for the thing every morning has become a bit like inhaling a fistful of broken glass for your first morning yawn. And that’s before I open my Twitter feed. Holy god.

It’s easy to feel trapped, crushed, overwhelmed. It is easy to wish to avoid the frantic, newly supercharged media entirely, going so far as to turn it all off and go play in the woods lest your soul shrivel into a numb raisin of quivering dread.

Here’s my advice: Don’t do it. Not completely. Not just yet. Because you might miss something good. Really good.

Like, say, #RussiaGate. Like, say, the biggest and most fantastically uproarious, devastating scandal in all of American political history, the moment when it all comes crashing down and Trump and his cronies are led away in handcuffs to die in prison. It’s going to be a grand ol’ party indeed, and it could happen, quite literally, any minute.

Too farfetched? Maybe. But not really.

See, something quite surreal is happening. The news is getting juicier, weirder, more fascinating – and, yes, depressing and sometimes suspicious – by the minute. But if you pay close attention, you can’t help but notice it’s all building, cascading and careening toward… something – something you don’t want to miss; except, of course, you really want to miss it, because it’s just. So. Damn. Depressing.

Behold, the modern conundrum.

Hey, it’s nothing new. Even in happier, Obama-blessed times, engaging with the media maelstrom was already an annoying-enough lift for most sane humans. Well prior to the Trumpocalypse, MSM was a meek, convoluted mess, obsessed with barely scandalous nonsense like Hillary’s emails, Beyonce’s relationship status and Obama saying friendly things about Cuba. Ah, halcyon days.

But now, the world is different. Darker. More panicky. The glut of fake news mingles with whiny accusations of fake news (read: real news that angry, not-very-bright people simply don’t like), and the admixture has made it considerably more difficult to parse and keep up. Or care to.

But there’s help afoot, and it’s getting better, clearer, stronger by the minute. From my read of it, the Trump maelstrom has had one terrifically unexpected upshot: the fiery rebirth, the awkwardly rapturous Second Coming of mainstream media, nearly across the board.

In all of my years as a culture critic working on the fringes of the MSM, I’ve never seen the major American outlets – not to mention individual reporters and formerly bland, who-are-you pundits – this supercharged, this scrappy, this newly interested in creating hotly engaging journalism for the modern age. The gross derangement of Fox News aside, the Trumpocalypse has lit a fire under real newsrooms across America like no time in recent history. And they know it.

Better still: Nearly all the best and most respected players, from the NYT to WaPo, Mother Jones to ProPublica, have seen a tremendous uptick in donations, subscriber numbers, reader attention, as a result of Trump’s open hatred of facts, of journalism and of smart reporters who ask him, well, anything at all.

Today, several members of Team Trump realized they’re in the FBI’s cross-hairs & in bed with a regime that kills those it no longer needs.

— John Schindler (@20committee) March 28, 2017

Much (too much) has been written about how Trump has empowered the dumbest and most cruel among us: the racists, the sexists, the neo-Nazi cretins, the inbred army of under-stimulated GamerGate white male trolls, spewing their hate into the Void like no time in history.

But what’s getting less attention is the compelling re-ignition of editors, reporters, activists, protesters and even the multitude of “rogue” government insiders, all not merely speaking, but actually beginning to shout truth to power, to idiots, to Sean Spicer, to fake news, to What’s Really Happening. The cowardly GOP is fighting hard to deflect, to distract, to block it all from happening, but as the epic fail of Trumpcare so perfectly proved, they have about as much unity and moral decency as an Adam Sandler movie about rape.

Can you trust all those major media players, all the time? Of course not. The RussiaGate stories in particular, given just how many threads and layers there are, can get a bit unhinged. But this is part of the dance. You learn – or rather, re-learn – that most vital of lost American skills: how to think, and intuit, for yourself.

And oh, that RussiaGate. In my daily skim of all those voices and channels, investigations and Twitter sub-threads, one thing becomes gloriously clear: The noose is tightening. The vultures are beginning to circle Trump’s little cardboard fortress, from Devin Nunes to Mike Flynn, Kushner to Manefort, Bannon to, well, just about anyone who’s willingly been in the same room with Trump for more than 10 minutes.

This is the “good” news, inside a horror-show of bad. The center cannot hold, because there was no center to begin with. Trump isn’t unraveling, because he was never remotely raveled. It was always just a matter of time until some feral collusion of federal intelligence, civic disquiet, deep reportage and vulgar revelation about Russia, his taxes, his sexual abuses, his mob connections, or any of a hundred other festering scandals and moral perversions all joined together to take him out of office. And, with all due luck and journalistic skill, that time is fast approaching.

Watch for it. If you – and your phone – can stomach it.

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Mark Morford

About Mark Morford