In a Wednesday op-ed, the Los Angeles Times called for the initiation of wide scale “de-Trumpification” and the shunning of exiting Trump administration officials who are described as “arsonists fleeing a wreckage they’ve made.”
The essay, penned by University of California-Irvine law professor and former U.N. Special Rapporteur on free speech David Kaye, questions how Trump administration officials and appointees, including “the shameless liars, the sycophants and the cynical enablers in Congress who knowingly sacrificed their reputations to support this president” are to be held accountable after the end of President Trump’s term later this month.
Though exiting political appointees have traditionally landed at prestigious institutions, with some becoming experts in the media, keynote conference speakers, memoirists with book deals, and others running for office or working for the public interest, these should not necessarily be available to former officials of the Trump administration, according to Kaye.
“Not so fast,” the essay declares. “Elite institutions unthinkingly opening their doors to this crew will facilitate exactly what we must avoid: normalizing the Trump years and evading a reckoning for Trumpism.”
Kaye then accuses departing Trump administration officials as a group, without providing evidence, of having participated in “undermining the democratic process, perpetuated lies from podiums, attacked the press, corrupted our foreign policy and intelligence agencies, damaged government departments devoted to the environment and education and much more.”
“By doing all this, Trump officials should forfeit the normally automatic benefits that come from a stint in government,” he adds.
Commending only a few who “maintained their independence and spoke truth to power inside and out of government,” the rest of the Trump administration officials are to be met with “skepticism about the value [they] bring to any mainstream institution.”
“Law firms, for example, should scrutinize Trump lawyers carefully as they return to private practice, and corporate boards should just say no.”
In addition, the essay calls for journalists and their editors “to think hard about how they integrate the voices of Trump officials in their stories” and to indicate their Trump affiliation and role clearly when being quoted.
Lastly, Kaye calls for “a meaningful and high-profile process of public accounting for Trump administration actions that overstepped the law.”
In the concluding paragraph, Kaye seeks to ensure the reader that his propositions are not primitive, though they may appear to be so.
“Shunning may sound primitive, but it is not,” he writes. “It can be a way to reinforce democratic values.”
The essay is part of a host of calls on the left to shun conservative voices and at a time of unprecedented “purges” of such voices on various social media platforms.
Last Thursday, a Forbes Magazine op-ed warned companies about hiring “fabulists” from the Trump administration.
“Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie,” Forbes Magazine’s chief content officer, Randall Lane, wrote.
Also last week, the anti-Trump Lincoln Project announced that it was building a database of Trump officials and staffers with the intention of holding them professionally “accountable” for supporting the president.
At @ProjectLincoln we are constructing a database of Trump officials & staff that will detail their roles in the Trump administration & track where they are now. No personal info, only professional. But they will be held accountable & not allowed to pretend they were not involved https://t.co/DkpxpaWaWB
— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) January 9, 2021
Last month, a Washington Post essay encouraged the media to shun Republicans who questioned the election results.
The essay itself admitted promoting “a radical approach” yet stood by it as “the only way to safely proceed with live interviews with Republicans who may be carrying a dangerous conspiracy theory that spreads on air.”
Also last month, the Washington Post published an essay comparing denying election results to denying the Holocaust and using that as a pretext to silence opposing voices.
“We would not allow a Holocaust denier to speak on evening news programs or have free rein on social media,” the essay’s authors write unequivocally. “Old and new media alike should no longer give a platform to these dissimulations, starting with Trump’s.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.