[Note for TomDispatch readers: Don’t forget (as so many of you never do) that this website needs your support to stay alive and kicking in a distinctly difficult world. So, if you have a moment, do visit our donation page and lend a hand. Should you be a big Robert Lipsyte fan (as I am), contribute $100 ($125 if you live outside the U.S.) and you can choose to have him send you a signed copy of his latest book, SportsWorld: An American Dreamland. Tom]
Only recently Donald Trump had his Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) moment. He promptly announced that, despite rumors he had reportedly spread, he did not intend to form a third party (“fake news, fake news”) — not when the second one was his for the asking and he could potentially defeat a future Democratic presidential candidate as a Republican. “Who knows?,” he told that audience, “I may even decide to beat them for a third time.” Admittedly, he spent much of his CPAC speech time at the border mourning his “great” (if largely nonexistent) wall there and decrying Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House as “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history.” As he put it, “In just one short month, we have gone from ‘America First’ to ‘America Last.’”
And yes, if you bothered to listen to that jut-jawed canary tweeting up a storm and were a CPAC devotee, you, too, might have been chanting, “We love you, We love you!” (although ominously enough only 68% of his fans in that conference hall actually want him to run again in 2024). If you weren’t part of his base, however, you would have found yourself listening to a genuinely dangerous, all-too-mad man who — if, say, the economy crashes — might indeed still win in 2024, sending this country over the edge of time, space, and god knows what else.
On TV, as Robert Lipsyte, TomDispatch jock culture correspondent, suggests today, it was indeed like watching one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in action. The Donald even took the time to “defend” women’s sports (as he’s never defended women) from the coming of supposedly record-breaking transgendered athletes. (“Joe Biden and the Democrats are pushing policies that would even destroy women’s sports.”) Of course, if you’re thinking of apocalyptic horsemen and sports — and you have a long memory — you might recall the 1924 Notre Dame football team of which, after a victory against Army, sportswriter Grantland Rice so famously wrote:
“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon…”
Meanwhile, saddle up and join former New York Times sports columnist Lipsyte, author of SportsWorld: An American Dreamland, in a wild, very personal gallop into our very own world where, for years, four distinctive horsemen of what indeed could prove to be the apocalypse rode us into the ground. Tom
As Do Pestilence, Famine, War, and Death
The Four Horsemen of our media apocalypse -- Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, and Donald Trump -- have ridden roughshod over us this past half-century leaving their hoofprints on our politics, our culture, and our lives. Two of them are gone now, but their legacies, including the News Corporation, the Fox News empire, and a gang of broadcast barbarians will ensure that a lasting plague of misinformation, propaganda masquerading as journalism, and plain old fake news will be our inheritance.
The original Four Horsemen were biblical characters seen as punishments from God. By the time they became common literary and then film currency, they generally went by the names of Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. Matching each with Limbaugh, Ailes, Murdoch, and Trump should prove a grisly but all-too-relevant parlor game. The originals were supposed to signal end times and sometimes, when I think about their modern American descendants, I wonder if we’re heading in just that direction.Read More