For daring to ask Hillary Clinton several questions and follow-up questions about her disregard for national security in regard to her use of private emails, Today Show host Matt Lauer was widely panned by the national media.

Lauer was criticized for interrupting Hillary, for spending three-fourths of their allotted time on the email question, and even for being “sexist” – i.e., being tougher on Hillary because she is a woman.

In an age where we are told that women should be treated equally with men, rightfully so, it is difficult to understand how anyone can be accused of sexism for being too aggressive in their interview tactics. But Hillary’s campaign wants it both ways, as so many often do – treat everyone equally, but treat some with kid gloves or else you will be accused of sexism or racism or the many other “-isms” that are so quickly brandished.

Labels are easy to attach but usually inaccurate in their application by the media. Donald Trump has been labeled by his opponents as a racist (as has every consecutive Republican candidate since at least Reagan), even though Trump has never been recorded as making the first racist remark. He has sometimes been rude, boorish and insensitive, but his comments have never been racist.

Racism is a very simple and repulsive thing – it is the belief that an entire race of people is inferior, or superior, to another race of people.

That is racism. Racism is not insulting someone, or being unfair to someone, or even disliking someone, even though there are some sources that in recent years have incorrectly attempted to expand racism’s definition to include those things.

If Donald Trump, or anyone else, announced, “I think all white people are superior to all black people,” that would be a racist remark. But Trump’s comments about illegal immigrants, or even the Mexican judge hearing the civil suit about Trump University, are nowhere near the definition of racist. You can believe those comments are wrong, insensitive, ill-advised or just plain stupid, and you may be right. But they are not racist.

Years ago, when he was still playing basketball, Charles Barkley, an African-American, once caused a stir, after being asked a question he didn’t like, by saying, “This is why I hate white people.” The remark was taken somewhat out of context, and the outspoken Barkley said he was joking.

But suppose he was serious. Suppose Barkley meant it when he said he hated white people. Even that comment would not rise to the level of racism if Barkley’s supposed hatred of white people did not stem from the belief that black people as a race were superior to white people as a race. Barkley’s attitude could be accurately described in many negative ways, but it would not meet the definition of racism.

Yet, many in the national media have been quick to embrace the completely unfounded and inaccurate racist label for Trump, even as they ignore their duty to accurately report on Hillary. When Hillary made (rare) recent public appearances in which she could barely finish her speeches due to unrelenting coughing fits, the media attacked Republicans who raised questions about her health.

Not until bystander video captured Hillary on Sunday awkwardly wobbling and then collapsing – and being tossed into a van “like a sack of potatoes” as one reporter tweeted – did the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC find themselves with no choice but to acknowledge the obvious.

We were finally told that she was diagnosed on Friday with pneumonia, another Hillary secret until it could no longer be kept secret. No one wishes bad health on anyone, including Hillary Clinton. But can we accept the campaign’s latest explanation? The Hillary campaign wouldn’t mislead, would it?

Hillary’s already-infamous remark at a recent fundraiser that half of Trump’s supporters are a “basket of deplorables” and her laundry list of the “-isms” that she thinks describes their prejudices was followed by what some in the media called an apology, which it was not, as the same “apology” included a detailed explanation of what Hillary thinks is “deplorable” about Trump supporters. It was, in essence, “I’m sorry for calling you deplorable, but here’s what’s deplorable about you.”

Assuming that Hillary is well enough to participate in the first presidential debate tonight, it will be interesting to see how the moderators handle their questioning of each candidate. If Hillary is asked tough questions with follow-ups when she misleads – as Trump certainly will be – we can expect reviews about how unfair it was.

For sure, the Trump campaign has been far from ideal, and often its own worst enemy. It seems to be under better management now, and if it continues its recent tone and tenor, The Donald will be taking the oath of office in January.

Trump has been rightfully criticized, but in some cases the relatively insignificant trifles that the media has magnified into major gaffes or worse pale in comparison to what it has overlooked or brushed aside from Hillary-land.

Trump says nice things about Vladimir Putin? Egads! We should be outraged, we are told by the same people who insist to us that Hillary and the Obama administration are perfectly right when they say we should trust Iran to live up to its nuclear agreement. We can trust Iran, but Trump is un-American for saying something nice about Putin?

It is in this bizarro, make-believe media environment that this year’s election is being conducted, which makes it entirely appropriate that Donald Trump plans to discuss his health records this week on a show hosted by a doctor named Oz.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

By Gary Abernathy

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