By Larry Levine –

It’s time to face the fact: Donald Trump is either deranged or delusional, or both.

It’s time to stop letting him of the hook with the excuse that he’s simply a liar.

Let’s take him at his word and consider that he believes he won the 2020 election. Let’s take him at his word and consider that he believes he carried Michigan in 2020 as he said this week, and he believes this year’s Michigan Primary is November 27. Let’s take him at his word and consider that he really believes Nikki Haley was in charge of White House security on Jan. 6, 2021. Let’s consider he didn’t conflate Haley with former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who also was not in charge of security that day of insurrection. And then there’s this weeks proclamation that he made Israel the capital of Israel.

These and so much more of what has spilled from his lips in the last eight years are clear signs not of a liar but of someone who is deranged or delusional, or both.

No one other than a deranged person would have claimed the crowd at his inauguration was larger than the crowd at former President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Unless that person was delusional. So, maybe this all goes back further than we think. Maybe that famous ride down the escalator was a metaphor for an advancing mental decline.

And assuming he is either deranged or delusional, what does that say about the nation’s political reporters and columnists and the Democratic Party’s message machine? They have benignly accepted the notion that he’s simply a chronic liar and by labeling him a liar instead of delusional they have cut him a huge break.

In the meantime that same media relentlessly questions President Joe Biden’s mental state with a fervor that drives poll results in which majorities of voters question Biden’s ability to govern in a second term.

A Republican Party hack of a special prosecutor finds no basis to prosecute Biden but loads his report with pejorative references to Biden’s age and mental ability. That Republican hack of a prosecutor loaded the Republican Party message into a report that cleared Biden of wrong-doing and the media ate it up and spit it out to the tune of 81 articles in four days in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

And what does the Biden/Democratic message machine do? Instead of attacking and exposing the source of the report, the Biden campaign goes on the defensive with his wife and his Vice President attesting to his soundness. This is a man, Joe Biden, a President who has run up a string of impressive accomplishments in his three years on the job. Tell that story. Reveal the source of the report for who he is and ask how a man described by that person could have brought the two parties together to pass critical landmark legislation and guided the nation through the COVID pandemic.

Veteran political reporter and columnist Jackie Calmes wrote in the L.A. Times Feb. 15 that “the mainstream media do aspire – to a fault” to be fair and balanced. And therein lies the crux of the issue. In discussing Trump’s 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, Calmes wrote, “The media, obsessed with seeming fair to Donald Trump, sought to balance all the negative coverage he generated because of his lies, slurs and bigotry and turned Clinton’s email habits into a pseudo scandal. In the end, that imbalance in harping on the matter was unfair to her.”

She goes on to write, “As the negative coverage of Trump adds up, the media seize disproportionately on Biden’s foibles and fumbles as if to even the score.”

It recalls advice I would give to candidates during my 52 years of active political consulting: the reporter you think is supportive of you is the one who will hurt you. To prove he or she is not biased in your direction, that reporter will publish something from the other side that is to your detriment.

In the most recent of her columns, Calmas concludes that Trump “is not fit to be president.” She writes of his “incoherent ramblings, falsehoods, indecent asides …” She cites the respective age “and mental acuity” of the two candidates as being the “overriding issue” in the campaign. She goes so far as to call Trump “unhinged” after sitting through one of his rallies.

This is not to fault Calmes. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone reading her pieces could consider voting for Trump. But even she wouldn’t go so far as to question whether Trump may be deranged or delusional. She lets him off the hook with being a liar and leaves it to the reader to sort out the false equivalency regarding the mental state of the two candidates.

Calmas is not the only columnist or reporter to fall into this trap of reaching for fair and balanced. In her Feb. 15 column she quotes Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein from their book on political dysfunction and polarization: “A balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon is a distortion of reality and a disservice to your consumers.”

We all learned in journalism school that the goal should be fair and balanced. But no one ever said it should not come at the price of being honest. Then along game the fairness doctrine, which imposed certain rules on radio and television coverage. Generations of journalists grew up hearing the term but never learning what the fairness doctrine actually said or required. It did not mean that you need to cover something you know to be false because one side said it. What today is called “both sides-ism” is a left over remnant of that misinterpretation of the fairness doctrine. You do not need to provide air time or space for something you know to be untrue.

In the case of Trump, much of the media believes it is doing a service by exposing his rantings to the light of day.

Calmas is unrestrained in her criticism of Trump. She unabashedly lays him open with all the information one needs to conclude he is either deranged or delusional, or both. She calls him a “ratings monster” who got billions of dollars of free media in 2016.

Now Joe Biden is being handed the bill for that imbalance. But no matter how many hours and inches of coverage are spent discussing Biden’s age and mental acuity in an effort to be balanced and atone for past sins, those sins will remain and Biden is paying the price.