The moral panic over Trump’s lewd remarks reveals much about us.

Summary: Here is another chapter exploring the oddity of our Anything But Issues presidential campaign. The re-release of Trump’s lewd remarks from 2005 ignited a moral panic (a too common event in modern America). This episode is rich with sad lessons for us. Here are a few of them.

Things that don’t matter in Campaign 2016 as they should.Campaign issues


  1. Avoiding the issues.
  2. The Zucker incident.
  3. About moral panics.
  4. About hypocrisy.
  5. Conclusions.
  6. Posts in this series.
  7. For More Information.

(1) Circus 2016: an Anything But Issues Election.

Important issues powered Trump’s campaign, until they were buried by his theatrics and bombast. Hillary Clinton’s brilliant response will go in the history books: smear Trump, all the time, in every way, true or false (see a list in section 5).

It’s a brilliant strategy. Worries about globalization, massive immigration, foreign wars, Wall Street, aspirations for national greatness — all of these favor Trump. Her platform is less popular: Goldman, aggressive social engineering, and a belligerent foreign policy. She is wise to shift the debate away from issues to Trump’s legion of personal failings. We are fools to allow her to do so.

Arianne Zucker
Arianne Zucker. By Haaseth/NBC.

(2) The Zucker incident.

Actress Arianne Zucker responds to Trump’s 2005 lewd comments with a note of maturity rarely seen in Circus 2016. She justly criticizes Trump’s remarks, but makes no mention of any sexual assault.

“My name is Arianne Zucker and I am a strong, independent, hard working mother, business woman and partner to a great man. I have grown to learn that the words of others cannot effect {sic} the value of my self worth or define the content of my character. How we treat one another, whether behind closed doors, locker rooms or face to face, should be done with kindness, dignity and respect. Unfortunately, there are too many people in power who abuse their position and disregard these simple principles and are rewarded for it. In understanding the magnitude of this situation, I choose to stand tall with self respect and use my voice to enrich, inspire and elevate the best of who we are as people”. @Ari_Zucker on Twitter.

See what Zucher said after Trump’s cameo appearance with her on “Days of Our Lives“. Lisa Rinna, co-host of “Soap Talk“, interviews her (broadcast on SOAPnet, 26 December 2005). She says only good things about Trump and her experience working with him. No mention of sexual assault. No signs of ill feelings towards him. Here’s a typical comment.

Arianne: Ever since I got married I flirt more than I ever have, because I have this wonderful man at home. …
Lisa: You recently worked with Donald Trump. Did you flirt with Donald?
Arianne: I did flirt with Donald. {Audience applauds and cheers.}
Lisa: Oh, good. He’s my new best friend. He’s cute, isn’t he?
Arianne: He is so cute and charming. He’s very tall. In my heels I was still looking up at him.
Lisa: I was kind of hot for him when I met him.

(3) About moral panics.

America has become swept by an increasing number of moral panics, an irrational reaction to the rapid and unending waves of social change (see this presentation by the professor who first explored this phenomenon). They are like wildfires that swept away people’s sense and balance, making us easy to manipulate. Those about sex and gender usually serve conservatives’ political ends (see Moral Panics, Sex Panics edited by Gilbert Herdt). In campaign 2016 liberals have found ways to employ our gullibility in these matters to their needs.

The reaction to Trump’s 2005 remarks shows many of the classic signs of a moral panic. Especially the over-reporting: a consensus (often false) on the story, exaggeration of reports using emotive language, symbolization of this episode to show a problem that threatens the social order, demonization of the central object, and disproportionality of our emotional response. These are fun two-minute hates, but deeply corrosive to society.

See this LRB review of Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies explaining journalists’ role in fanning moral panics: “there are active pressures {on journalists} to pursue stories that tell people what they want to hear, to give them lots of celebrity and TV-based coverage, and to subscribe to every moral panic.” To understand moral panics see the classic that brought the concept to maturity: Folk Devils and Moral Panics by Stanley Cohen (Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics).

(4) About Hillary Clinton’s hypocrisy.

“How many times must it be said? Actions speak louder than words. {Donald Trump} said bad things! HRC threatened me after {Bill Clinton} raped me.” “I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Ark. Attorney General, raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now 73. It never goes away.”
— Juanita Broaddrick on Twitter today (here and here).

Here is the transcript of Broaddrick’s 1999 interview on NBC. Breitbart News posted a new interview with Juanita Broaddrick (video below). Is this allegation against Bill Clinton, and those by other women, worthy of attention? Even reliable liberal Dylan Matthews at Vox says yes, especially after reviewing the evidence.

“But that does not mean that Broaddrick’s allegation against Bill Clinton is bogus. It is serious and credible, and should not be easily dismissed. There really are multiple accusations of sexual assault against Bill Clinton, accusations that have too often been conflated with his much better-established history of adultery. Are the women making these accusations survivors who deserve to be believed, to borrow Hillary Clinton’s own language?”

The truth of such old allegations remains outside the criminal courts, and no debates on the internet can provide answers. Broaddrick’s accusations are significant because they show the hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton and her fellow feminists. “Believe the victim” has become just political propaganda for the Left, to be used when useful.

(5)  Conclusions.

Moral panics are like thunder showers: irresistible, and then gone and forgotten. While the new Trump tape is trivia, our reaction to it reveals much the election, us, and America’s future.

Moral panics are like thunder showers: irresistible, and then gone and forgotten. The hypocrisy of Clinton and the feminist activists is an enduring factor in American politics. As are journalists, even eager to fan a moral panic (it is powerful clickbait). Most importantly, the Anything But Issues election shows an American public that sees elections as entertainment, so issues are secondary to exciting stories.

Given the quality of the candidates — a bad Hillary and worse Donald — knowledge might be all that we get from 2016. Let’s use it to do better in future elections. Perhaps in 2020 we will have a candidate who focuses on the vital issues. If we are lucky, he or she might even support the Republic. If we are unlucky, we will see if its rickety structure survives. Either way, interesting times lie ahead.

(6)  Other chapters in this series about the Anything But Issues election.

  1. Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler.
  2. The Left calls Trump an ‘authoritarian’, a false & futile attempt to suppress populism.
  3. The Left calls Trump a fascist instead of focusing on the issues. It’s why they lose.
  4. Does Donald Trump have a perverted attraction to Ivanka? Details of a smear.
  5. Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.
  6. Did Trump have a perverted attraction to 12-year old Paris Hilton? Details of a smear.
  7. The hidden details of the October surprise about Trump’s “sexual assaults”.
  8. The moral panic about Trump’s assault on Arianne Zucker.
  9. Next: consequences for the Republican Party.

(6) For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Campaign 2016, and especially these…

  1. Why the Outer Party hates Trump and will waste this opportunity for reform.
  2. Why the Left is missing the rising populist movement.
  3. Trump wins because he says some sensible things which journalists can’t conceal — You must not see populism!
  4. What the press won’t tell you about Trump and populism — See Walter Russell Mead’s famous essay about Jackson.
  5. The Right struggles to understand Trump and populism.
  6. Liberals look at Trump and populism, but see only their prejudices.
  7. Racism is the dark side of populism. Will it divide and defeat us?
  8. Populism arises amidst workers abandoned by the Left, seeking allies.

Great books about the moral panics, afflicting America.

"Flat Earth News" by Nick Davies
Available at Amazon.
Folk Devils and Moral Panics
Available at Amazon.

3 thoughts on “The moral panic over Trump’s lewd remarks reveals much about us.”

  1. Funniest reaction to yesterday’s debate

    For a neutral evaluation of the debate, The Guardian turned to Kenneth Pennington, the digital director of the Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

    “Trump is depriving Americans of robust national discourse”.

    Clinton’s supporters have campaigned above all on a series of smears against Trump. He’s Hitler, an authoritarian, a fascist, a pervert, etc. They have worked hard to avoid a debate about the profound issues raised by populism — trade, immigration, globalization, and foreign wars.

    Fortunately for Clinton, Trump’s scattered mind has been unable to focus on the issues for long.

  2. Comment sent by a reader

    If Richard Nixon were resurrected from the grave and put against these two in 2016 as an eligible third option, I wouldn’t just vote for him: I truly think he’d win, and that he would deserve to win both from a political and moral perspective.

    The sheer political ineptitude of our bipartisan elite is only hidden thanks to Trump: I cannot imagine that someone like Nixon would do anything other than quickly deduce their bubble-like mentality and run rings around them in a political campaign should they attack him, especially on foreign policy, which they would, considering Nixon’s extremely hardcore “conservative realism” vs. the duty-based nature of post-1992 foreign policy, whether for the GOP, the Democrats, or the dissenting left. And say what you will about the man, he was no plutocrat or plutocratic pawn-he flat out blindsided them as he removed the gold standard, with no consultation or fucks given about Wall Street or the GOP business caste whatsoever. Imagine any modern Republican politician trying that on any issue of consequence whatsoever.

    (Most politicians do their best to portray themselves as loving, hard-working husbands and family men, in spite of their rampant extracurricular activities, sexual or otherwise, and the complete lack of correlation between that and getting the job done. Nixon was the relatively rare real thing, if in part probably because of an undiagnosed neurological disorder of some kind and social shyness to the point where he stammered, blushed, and quietly threw away JFK’s paper of women he could look up in Paris in the late 1940s.

    No, he’d find BETTER ways of ruining his legacy! With even more cursing and political incorrectness than Trump involved!)

  3. This post is getting good traffic, as have others in this series (the post about the Ivanka smear has had over 20k pageviews).

    Like most of the most successful posts on the FM website, it has done so without referrals from other websites or social media. Mostly just from Google. Google is God on the Internet, a capricious god. Praise be to Google.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: