Among the bizarre, shameful, and practically unimaginably awful things that have transpired throughout this presidential campaign, we can add one more: The role of David Duke, the former Klan leader, in the campaign and nearly daily headlines.
The former head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has injected himself into the #Election 2016 repeatedly. First, last year, he endorsed Donald Trump for president, having apparently overcome his earlier reluctance to do so due to the candidate's stated support for Israel. Later Trump, in one of the numerous gaffes that would have ended most campaigns, neglected to denounce Duke's endorsement during a live appearance on CNN, although he did denounce Duke before and after.
Duke has also emerged as a tribune of the "alt-right," the mostly online-based collection of white nationalists and other political bottom-feeders who love and worship Trump. And more recently, Duke's nearly every utterance has found its way into print thanks to reporters eager to write it all down.
A Klansman's progress
Duke led organized hate groups throughout the 1970s and '80s and in a particularly scary moment in American political history, was nearly elected governor of Louisiana in 1991, before losing a runoff to the notoriously corrupt Edwin Edwards. In the decade and a half after, Duke unsuccessfully sought election to various other political offices, including the presidency, but the national political media mostly ignored his antics.
Throughout the election in the months since, Duke has reared his disgusting head repeatedly, taking turns being an unwanted surrogate for Trump and something of a freelance pundit. He praised Trump's Star of David tweet even after Trump disavowed it. Borrowing the language of the alt-right, he described Newt Gingrich as a "sellout cuck." And this week, he announced he's considering running for Congress.
The latter announcement, which came Tuesday, was covered by CNN, the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, The Hill and the Daily Beast. Duke also proposed himself repeatedly as Trump's vice president, another laughable assertion covered by Politico, The Blaze, The Forward, and more.
And my question is, why? There's absolutely no reason for David Duke to matter in 2016 -- and reporting on his every stupid move only makes him appear to matter more than he actually does. His pronouncements should be treated like those of a vagrant muttering to himself in a train car, which he increasingly resembles.
The right man to ignore
Many have argued throughout the campaign that the media should start ignoring #Donald Trump, and stop feeding him the attention he seeks. But tempting as it is to not fall into Trump's various traps, the man is the presumptive #Republican nominee for president, and that's not something the media can fairly ignore or wish away. However, the media should ignore David Duke. In addition to the hatemongering, Duke is an irrelevant relic of the past, a fringe lunatic, and ridiculous figure who deserves no attention and no validation. The media successfully ignored David Duke for about 25 years. There was no reason at all to stop doing so.