News & Politics

Andy Shallal’s Response to Donald Trump’s Election Is Terrible

He's canceling his subscription to the Washington Post, which did a great job!

Photograph via iStock.

If there’s one consensus in Washington right now, it’s misery. Since about 10 PM last night, when it became apparent Hillary Clinton‘s position in the upper Midwest was crumbling and Donald Trump was cruising to a shocking victory, the pallor has been unshakable. Pedestrians walking up sidewalks looking morose or quietly sobbing, packed buses riding in silence, and, of course, a bottomless vault of takes on what went wrong, and how we’ll deal with President-elect Trump.

One such take—and, to be fair, this article counts as another—comes from Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal. “I don’t usually write annoying angsty shit online,” he writes on his restaurant’s website. “But damn it, today, I need this. I need to know that America is better than this.”

It’s a common sentiment. Shallal’s been a vocal supporter of President Obama, and enduring the election of someone whose defining qualities include bigotry, misogyny, and general malice—what many on Shallal’s side would say is the exact opposite Obama—is traumatic.

“Last night in the wee hours of the morning, I felt my soul sapped, my spirit crushed and my hope vanish,” Shallal continues. “This morning I feel betrayed, violated, and angry.”

And like so many shocked Americans, Shallal is funneling his outrage toward the media. He continues: “I am especially angry with the media, they are the true spoilers in this election. They tricked and teased us, cajoled and used us knowing all along that they are the true winners no matter who the hell gets the most electoral votes.”

To be sure, there will plenty of reckoning to go around in the news business. There is the billions of dollars’ worth of free media Trump earned on account of his pre-campaign celebrity; the unsubstantiated assumptions that an intellectually incurious, would-be strongman could win a national election; the poll-aggregator models and betting markets that lulled Clinton supporters into false senses of victory. It was another wannabe tyrant, Peter Thiel, who nailed what we all got wrong about Trump when he told the National Press Club that the media “never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally.”

But Shallal’s response? He’s getting rid of his daily newspaper subscription.

“Today, I will cry a little (actually a lot), lick my wounds, take my time brushing my teeth and taking a shower and getting dressed,” he writes. “I will cancel my subscription to the Washington Post, hang out with close friends, exercise, eat well, get a massage, pick up a good book, read a good soothing poem—out loud.”

Everyone copes differently, but dump his Post subscription? For all of the journalism industry’s many warts, the Washington Post‘s work in the 2016 election was not one of them. In fact, one could argue no media organization did more to expose Trump’s inherent flaws and dangers. Forget the collective woe from the Post opinion page’s roster of center-left and center-right columnists. Did Shallal not read, say, Robert Costa‘s insights into the schizophrenic workings of Trump Tower? Robert Samuels‘s and David Maraniss‘s series back in May about the underpinnings of the racial resentment that Trump later rode to victory? David Fahrenthold‘s epic investigation of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which revealed its namesake as a grandstanding miser? Or the Access Hollywood tape that confirmed the worst beliefs about Trump’s character?

Shallal is taking his anger out on genuine media missteps—like CNN’s employment of one-time Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi, who remained a close Trump adviser all while being paid by the network—by dissing the stuff that did the most to educate people about the man who will be the 45th President. Maybe Shallal should’ve canceled his cable instead.

General broadsides against all media because you don’t like some media is a basic politician’s trick. A one-time candidate like Shallal, who ran for DC mayor in 2014, should know this. His encouragement to followers of Busboys and Poets’ progressive ethos to cancel their Post subscriptions isn’t a salve for the pain they feel in Trump’s election. It’s just stupid.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.