Years ago, I was looking at a tabloid front page while waiting in a checkout and was struck by a headline: "Devil Escapes From Hell." I laughed but have not been laughing so much lately as the venerable New York Times has done its own highbrow version of such miswrought journalism with reference to Donald Trump.
The Times has not been wrong in seeing much to fear in a presidential candidate whose egregious excesses badly demeaned the whole electoral process. It has been wrong in an unbridled, standards-be-damned journalistic response that has helped demean the news industry.
It has not been alone. Other news outlets joined in, and, especially since the election, we've had celebrities, would-be intellectuals and rampaging young people behaving as badly as the way in which Trump campaigned.
The Times, I should note, did do some tough reporting on Hillary Clinton and remains one of the most extraordinary newspapers in the country, if not the world, in its talent, its investigative depth and range of coverage. Its accompanying liberal bias and disregard of old-school objectivity are hardly new, but this year was kaboom time.
As one example, it ran an outright, blazing editorial on Trump's denial of Obama's U.S. citizenship - the birther issue - on the front page under the guise of a news analysis.
It was brilliant, and it could have won prizes if it had been on the editorial page where it belonged, or at least had carried the label "editorial." But it analyzed nothing. It was sheer opinion from the first word to the last period. To play these games causes distrust, dear editors, and it should.
There has been lots more - pundits seeing Hitlerian evil, varied kinds of hard-news editorializing and stories no more balanced than the error-prone world vision Michael Moore documents in his films. Other outlets have matched more than a little of this even though simple straight reporting about Trump would have been more than enough to disgrace him.
Speaking of maestro Moore, he said Hillary Clinton's popular vote victory should not have been undone by Trump's victory in the Electoral College, described by him as an "arcane, insane 18th century idea" that ought to be scuttled.
While many liberals agree with Moore on getting rid of the Electoral College, some say the electors should use their power in a Dec. 19 vote to give the election to Clinton. Really? Engage in that progressive misadventure and watch America combust.
Of course, students throughout the nation are already avoiding classes where they are required to learn in order to stage campus protests where they are free to burn. And to cry.
OK, fine, say administrators who soothe their feelings with Play-Doh, coloring books, puppies and the like and by keeping conservative speakers off campus. At least that poses less peril for police than the Portland, Ore., riots, after which it was found that many of the arrested, violent, vandalizing young people had not bothered to vote.
So now there's President-elect Trump. He has been reaching out to make peace, tone things down and build something constructive. It is fine to raise strong questions during all of this, but certain groups of his enemies amount to a host of new devils let loose to trounce the magnificent idea of a peaceful, respectful transfer of power that will scarcely rule out all sides being heard in ensuing political debate.