This is how bad it’s getting for Donald Trump. An anchor on Fox News chastised him Wednesday for doing something he has been doing for months: Attacking the media.
Shepard Smith responded to comments Trump made at his first press conference in seven months. The Donald was very upset over reports that Russia might have compromising information about him. Trump was informed of this during one of the few national security briefings he bothered to attend. However, his response was not to direct anger at the Russians asserting salacious behavior and financial impropriety on Trump’s part. Nope, he was angry with BuzzFeed and CNN for doing their job and informing the public.
TRUMP: I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to so false, and fake, out. I think it’s a disgrace. And I say that. And that’s something Nazi Germany would have done and did do.
First of all, Trump implying that he’s a victim of Nazi tactics is not only false, it’s nauseating. He is trivializing the real horrors that took the lives of millions. Jewish groups have condemned his remarks and called for him to apologize.
Back to the main topic: Trump called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage” who would “suffer the consequences.” Then turned to CNN, who he blamed for “building it up.” When CNN’s White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, attempted to ask a question, Trump repeatedly refused to recognize him. He told Acosta to be quiet and to stop being rude. Then, as an explanation for why Acosta was being shunned, Trump said that “You are fake news.”
Shepard Smith addressed this exchange on his afternoon broadcast. He began by distinguishing CNN’s reporting from that of BuzzFeed, who merely published the source documents from the intelligence briefing that everyone was already talking about. Then he mounted a full-throated defense of CNN:
SMITH: “Though we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN’s report, it is our observation that its correspondents followed journalistic standards. Neither they, nor any other journalists, should be subjected to belittling and delegitimizing by the President-Elect of the United States.”
Coming from Fox News, that’s a strong vote of confidence for the network that Trump so fiercely despises. What’s more, it’s important symbolically for other news organizations to rally behind CNN, or any network, whose First Amendment rights are threatened. Trump has a long history of resorting to blacklisting news enterprises that he perceives as insufficiently adoring. And it goes beyond simply calling them names. He has revoked their credentials and prohibited them from covering his events. Now he has taken to calling any news he doesn’t like “fake news.”
This makes Trump’s “Nazi” rhetoric all the more curious and disturbing. He is literally engaging in the sort of suppression of the press that was common in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. His attacks on CNN, and other media he dislikes, is intended to damage their reputation and even destroy their business viability. That is clear in his post-press conference tweet falsely maligning CNN’s ratings and credibility. Trump is on a mission to silence his critics and friendly media. In fact, shortly after brushing back Acosta, Trump called on Breitbart News, an actual, documented source for fake news.
However, Trump’s assertion that he is the victim of Nazi tactics is ludicrous on its face. When did Nazi-run media ever release intelligence data intended to hurt the German leader? Trump is casting himself in the role of Hitler and asserting that his own spies are out to get him. The absurdity of that is glaringly apparent. In the Nazi era it would have been suicide for the media to publish anything critical of the Fuhrer. And aside from being historically inaccurate, it’s a precarious analogy to apply to oneself. Never mind the temptingly appropriate parallels. Furthermore, Trump has been asked about comparisons to Hitler in the past, and in a chillingly ominous response he said that it doesn’t bother him. That response should bother every other American.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.