New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick, who has always written glowingly of President Obama, takes us inside the "stunned White House" for a final interview with Obama while he is still president.

Remnick captures the Obama White House's unpreparedness for what happened on the evening of November 8:

“So when you stand and deliver that State of the Union address,” Lauer said, “in no part of your mind and brain can you imagine Donald Trump standing up one day and delivering the State of the Union address?”

Obama chuckled. “Well,” he said, “I can imagine it in a ‘Saturday Night’ skit.”

Obama’s mockery of Trump began as early as the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, largely as the result of Trump’s support of the “birther” conspiracy theory, which claims that Obama was born in Africa and so impugns the legitimacy of his office. Into the final stretch of this year’s campaign, moments of serene assurance were plentiful. A few weeks before the election, Obama went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and performed a routine in which he read one insulting tweet directed at him after another. Finally, he read one off his phone from the Republican candidate: “President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States! @realDonaldTrump.”

A short, cool pause, then Obama delivered the zinger: “Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a President.” And then, like a rapper dropping the mike, Obama held out his phone and let it fall to the floor.


Embedded in the Remnick story is the embryonic argument for censoring the views of those who delivered such a blow to the coastal elites. They don't call it censorship, but pay especial attention to the portion I have bolded:

“Until recently, religious institutions, academia, and media set out the parameters of acceptable discourse, and it ranged from the unthinkable to the radical to the acceptable to policy,” [Obama North Carolina political adviser David] Simas said. “The continuum has changed. Had Donald Trump said the things he said during the campaign eight years ago—about banning Muslims, about Mexicans, about the disabled, about women—his Republican opponents, faith leaders, academia would have denounced him and there would be no way around those voices. Now, through Facebook and Twitter, you can get around them. There is social permission for this kind of discourse. Plus, through the same social media, you can find people who agree with you, who validate these thoughts and opinions. This creates a whole new permission structure, a sense of social affirmation for what was once thought unthinkable. This is a foundational change.”

That day, as they travelled, Obama and Simas talked almost obsessively about an article in BuzzFeed that described how the Macedonian town of Veles had experienced a “digital gold rush” when a small group of young people there published more than a hundred pro-Trump Web sites, with hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers. The sites had names like and, and most of the posts were wildly sensationalist, recycled from American alt-right sites. If you read such sites, you learned that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump and that Clinton had actually encouraged Trump to run, because he “can’t be bought.”

The new media ecosystem “means everything is true and nothing is true,” Obama told me later. “An explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers’ payroll. And the capacity to disseminate misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, to paint the opposition in wildly negative light without any rebuttal—that has accelerated in ways that much more sharply polarize the electorate and make it very difficult to have a common conversation.”

That marked a decisive change from previous political eras, he maintained. “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us,” he said. “And then we would have a debate about how to fix it. That’s how, in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you had Republicans supporting the Clean Air Act and you had a market-based fix for acid rain rather than a command-and-control approach. So you’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that.”


Ideally, in a democracy, we have a variety of opinions on climate change and realize that some scientists do not believe it is as much of a threat as the supposed 99 percent (and it must be asked: Do some of these 99 percenters simply know that, if they disagree, grants and professorships can dry up?).

In the world of the coastal elite, we first agree on their world view and then we have a "debate" about how best to implement their prescriptions.

Most alarmingly, the left seems to be building up to censor the opinions of those who don't agree with them.  I hope I am wrong about this, but suspect I am not. President Obama, in the bolded portionabove, talks about the "capacity" to disseminate "misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, and to paint the opposition into a wildly negative light." He clearly is uncomfortable with our having that "capacity."

The internet is the wild west of journalism and indeed information in general. Some of it is wrong and in general it ends up discredited. But that's not enough for totalitarian regimes or the American left. Both these groups are uncomfortable with free-flowing information. Their idea of a debate is that people agree with them.