Trump’s Latest Tweet Threatens The Media (And Press Freedom) For Doing Their Job

Friday morning Donald Trump took another step toward the totalitarian dystopia he yearns to rule. He’s spent months disparaging the intelligence community on which he must rely. At the same time he has defended Russia from charges of hacking that has now been proven beyond question.

Trump Baby

And now he is proposing concrete actions to punish the free press that he so blatantly abhors. This is what he tweeted this morning while waiting to be briefed on the Russian hacking report:

The frightening aspects of that cannot be be understated. Trump is proposing an investigation of a news organization that did precisely what is expected of it. NBC utilized its sources to acquire government information that is relevant to all citizens. And contrary to Trump’s frantic accusation, there is no indication that any of it was top secret. The government was going to release a public version of the report anyway. NBC just scooped them.

What is apparent is that Trump is more concerned about NBC getting info that’s about to be released anyway, than he is about Russians hacking American citizens and political organizations. He is distracting from the far more significant news that Russia had helped him achieve his tainted victory. They even celebrated and congratulated themselves for their successful effort.

It’s important to note the distinction between what Trump’s allies in Russia did and what NBC did. The hackers stole private information from individuals and organizations. That data was not public property. Russia, WikiLeaks, et al, were not revealing government secrets that the people had a right to know. NBC, on the other hand did just that. The Intelligence reports they previewed were paid for by taxpayers for their benefit. So NBC was performing a public service, while Russia/WikiLeaks was invading privacy. But only the privacy of Democrats so as to assist their favored candidate, Donald Trump.

Trump doesn’t care about Russians hacking an American election. He has defended them, and his BFF Vladimir Putin, from the start. Even worse, he has maligned the dangerous work of American patriots serving their country. Under the circumstances, one has to wonder why any intelligence operative would risk their life for Trump during his administration.

Trump has also been a constant foe of the free press. He has called reporters “sleazy” and “dummies” and “liars” and worse. Respected journalists had their credentials revoked to prevent them from covering his rallies. Organizations that represent the interests of journalists have condemned him as a “threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

That condemnation is playing out bigly today with this new attack on the press. And Trump has still never called for a congressional investigation of the Russian hacking. His whining about NBC sharing intelligence before he has seen it rings hollow. After all, it’s easy to get intelligence before Trump sees it when he doesn’t even bother to take intelligence briefings.

UPDATE: As it turns out, about six hours before Trump’s tweet WikiLeaks posted a tweet that is eerily similar:

That tweet also falsely states that the information NBC reported was “Top Secret.” And it makes the point that NBC received the info before Trump. Considering the similarities it is likely that Trump simply copied the contents of the WikiLeaks tweet for his own. And that’s just more proof that they are working together.

It’s also astonishing that WikiLeaks is complaining about “leaks” to the media. That’s their whole friggin’ reason for existing. But those dishonest hypocrites go nuts when someone else disseminates information acquired through legitimate journalistic means (as opposed to hacking and theft) if it is adverse to their partisan agenda.

What The Flying F**k? Now Trump Says His Business Conflicts Are NOT ‘So Complex’

President-Elect Donald Trump has made boasting about the breadth of his massive business empire a hallmark of his campaign. It was one of the most frequently cited qualifications of his quest for the presidency. His alleged business acumen and worldwide holdings was presented as proof that he could “Make America Great Again.” Never mind that a true account of his past is replete with failures and bankruptcies.

Donald Trump

In addition to bragging about his vast “wealth,” Trump exploited the complexity of his finances to avoid releasing his taxes. No presidential candidate has gotten away with such a refusal in over fifty years. In Trump’s case, this information is critical to understanding the myriad conflicts of interest he will face as president. Even more troubling is the recent discovery of Russia’s involvement in hacking during the election to boost Trump’s prospects. Without more detailed knowledge of his corporate connections it’s difficult to know how Trump himself might have been involved.

Two weeks ago Trump promised to hold a press conference to lay out exactly how he would mitigate even the appearance of impropriety. That event was abruptly canceled without explanation. His campaign issued a vague statement that it would be rescheduled for sometime in January. Of course, based on his track record, I wouldn’t bet the house on it.

Now Trump has responded to the bipartisan criticism he’s received for failing to come clean. Naturally, his response came in the form of an utterly substanceless tweet:

Well then … Now Trump’s businesses are suddenly a simple matter to understand. It’s the media that has built them up into monstrous complexities that no one short of his brilliance can grasp. The first question this raises is pretty obvious. If it’s so simple, why doesn’t he just explain it and get it out of the way? He could hold a brief press conference and satisfy everyone in a matter of minutes. Surely, if he has time to meet with Kanye West, he has time for this far more important obligation. Or are the American people a lower priority than Mr, Kardashian?

The problem with his tweet is that the Trump campaign has already contradicted it. His staff has guided the media to an entirely different set of excuses:

Sean Spicer: “He realized, talking to lawyers and accountants, it was going to take a little bit more time.”

Jason Miller: “I think one of the important things to keep in mind is for someone who’s been so successful, who has so many different deals, so many properties and so many different investments, it takes a while to move that along. […] It’s complicated to get that done right.”

Even this guy:

Trump: “I have one of the world’s most complicated tax returns. It’s a massive return.”

So The Donald wants it both ways. His business practices are so complicated that they can’t be compiled and divulged in an expeditious manner. At the same time, they aren’t really “so complex” after all. It’s just the media distorting the truth. And while Trump seeks to keep everyone confused, his financial corruption and treasonous affairs with Russia get pushed aside. It’s a dangerous game and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. That much is indeed simple to understand. Even for the media.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Alarming New Law Could Allow ‘Voice Of America’ To Turn Into Trump’s Pravda

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is a federal agency with seventy-four years of history. It was created to produce pro-western news stories for distribution around the world. It was intended to advance democracy and counter propaganda in countries suffering from stiff censorship and suppression of free speech.

Donald Trump

The BBG manages outlets like the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, among others. However, its mission of late has been muted by bureaucracy and mismanagement. In an effort to address these problems Congress passed a reform bill that would phase out the bipartisan board and replace it with a CEO to be appointed by the president.

These reforms were not considered especially controversial when they were proposed. They even received some bipartisan support in Congress. However, with the election of Donald Trump, some of the initiative’s backers are having second thoughts. As Politico reported:

“President-elect Donald Trump is about to inherit a newly empowered Voice of America that some officials fear could serve as an unfettered propaganda arm for the former reality TV star who has flirted for years with launching his own network.

“Buried on page 1,404 of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed last week is a provision that would disband the bipartisan board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent U.S. agency that includes Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.”

Trump and his cohorts have demonstrated that they are not above lying to manufacture narratives that support their interests. Consequently, the new BBG could wind up being a version of Trump TV that is “financed by taxpayers to the tune of $800 million per year.” And with other recent legislation, there’s nothing to stop this agency from airing its broadcasts in the United States. This is troubling because the reformed board could produce propaganda aimed at American citizens and distribute it through conventional media and news programming.

Now some people might be thinking “So what? Isn’t that what Fox News already does?” And they would be right. Fox News is the de facto PR division of the Republican Party. And with the elevation of Trump to the White House, Fox becomes the President’s official mouthpiece. However, another production entity with a nearly billion dollar budget should not be dismissed. It’s programming could be distributed to hundreds of small TV stations throughout the country who could air it for free. This would expand the reach of the right’s propaganda to millions of new households.

The congressional managers of the bill insist that their reforms preserve a “firewall” that prohibits political influence from the White House or the new CEO. They maintain that journalists would still have a free hand to produce their own stories. But if the new CEO was inclined to throw his weight around, he could still bully his subordinates into submission. Plus he could hire journalists that were pre-screened for right-wing, ideological purity. Imagine someone like Stephen Bannon (Trump’s Strategic Advisor and former chairman of Breitbart News) in that role. And Roger Ailes, former CEO of Fox News, is looking for work after having been fired for sexual harassment. He and Trump are best buddies.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Both Democratic and Republican members of the current board have expressed concerns about the reforms. They recognize the potential for abuse without strict oversight. The Washington Post notes that, “If Congress’s intention was for US broadcasting to rival the Kremlin’s, it may well get its wish.” And what would make Trump happier than to emulate his hero in Russia with his very own version of Pravda?

Donald Trump Cancels Press Conference To Address His Sleazy Conflicts Of Interest

The specter of Donald Trump’s business relations continues to hang heavily over his pending administration. For months there has been concern over the far flung enterprises that could have a profound impact on how he might govern. The opportunity for personal enrichment is more than speculation

Donald Trump

Foreign government officials are already trying to curry favor with Trump by booking rooms at his hotels. What’s worse, Trump has projects in countries whose leaders could use their presence to blackmail Trump. That can take the shape of denying permits or other regulatory requirements that would kill the projects. But it could also involve harassment, and even imprisonment, of Trump’s local associates.

There is no way to adequately prevent such activities without Trump completely divesting himself of his businesses. Simply handing them off to his kids would not suffice. Everyone, including Trump, would still know how to influence the leader of the free world. So two weeks ago, in an attempt to address these problems, Trump announced that he would hold a press conference. In a series of tweets (of course) he said that:

“I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses..Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!”

Once again, Trump still thinks that his kids would provide the necessary distance to avoid potential corruption. But all it does is appoints his kids as the executors of his worldwide graft and bribery operations. It could not be characterized as a “blind trust” and would still be a tempting target for favors or threats. However, even his promise to hold a press conference on these dubious terms is not being kept. On Monday he disgorged another set of tweets saying:

These remarks leave numerous questions unanswered. There is still no clarification of how he would address his glaring conflicts of interest. And he still offers his family as phony managers of his financial empire. No legal ruling has been made as to whether he might be in violation of the law. Although many experts believe the Constitution would prohibit his continued ownership status. The definition of “new deals” could mean anything. And despite the “busy times” he’s still not too busy to watch Saturday Night Live and meet with Kanye West.

Finally, by canceling the press conference that was scheduled for this Thursday, Trump has relieved himself of the responsibility to provide answers for these questions. He now says that he will hold a press conference sometime in January. That could mean so close to, or even after, the inauguration that it would be impossible to research and respond. Plus, he is combining that proposed press conference with several other unrelated subjects.

Trump has not held a press conference in the five weeks since Election Day. That’s the longest period a president-elect has gone without a post-election press conference in forty years. But it’s even worse than that because he hasn’t had a formal press conference at all since July. In fact, with only a few exceptions, he hasn’t been interviewed on a non-Fox News outlet in nearly six months. This was so egregious that Fox News even reported it.

This deliberate snubbing of the press has enabled Trump to avoid some serious issues. For instance, persistent allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. Charges by at least a dozen women who claim he sexual assaulted them. Payment of $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His white supremacist (aka alt-right) cabinet and administration appointees. His unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election. And, of course, his chronic and ethically compromising conflicts of interest. The lengthening list of political atrocities makes it impossible to cover in a single event.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

No one knows whether Trump is going to hold a press conference to address any of these issues. He broke his promise to do so on Thursday and could do the same next month. Or he could hold another press conference that turns into an infomercial for his hotels and cheesy products. He’s done that before as well. The bottom line is that he cannot be trusted to keep his word or to abstain from personally enriching himself and his family. This charlatan needs to be watched like the vulture he is lest he consume what remains of our country, it’s democracy, and freedom.

Why Vladimir Putin Should Be Time’s Person Of The Year Instead Of Donald Trump

On Wednesday morning Time Magazine revealed their Person of the Year (POY) for 2016. Not surprisingly, they chose Donald Trump. He was certainly a fixture in the media for eighteen nauseating months and dominated much of the political discourse. However, by Time’s own criteria for selecting their annual cover story, Trump may not have been the most appropriate choice.

Trump Person of the Year

Time defines the POY as “the person who most influenced the news, for better or for worse.” It is not necessarily, as Trump described it upon hearing of his selection, “a great honor.” In fact, it can be an outright disgrace as illustrated by some past selections like Stalin and the Ayatollah Khomeini. In Trump’s case, his selection may be more along those lines.

Nancy Gibbs, Editor-in-Chief of Time, says of Trump’s selection that “There is a profound argument about whether his influence was for the better or for the worse.” And Time’s article profiling him also addressed some of the darker aspects of his character:

“For all of Trump’s public life, tastemakers and intellectuals have dismissed him as a vulgarian and carnival barker. A showman with big flash and little substance. […]

“Instead of painting a bright vision for a unified future, he magnified the divisions of the present, inspiring new levels of anger and fear within his country. […]

[H]e proved that tribal instincts never die. That in times of economic strife and breakneck social change, a charismatic leader could still find the enemy within and rally the masses to his side.”

Indeed, Trump embraced an unprecedented reliance on division and scapegoating. His “us vs. them” tactics appealed to a nervous populous that fears the unavoidable demographic changes that are in progress. But does any of that justify his selection as Time’s Person of the Year? Did he really have more influence on the news than anyone else?

While Trump did seem to be on an endless loop across every news network, he can’t be given credit for that exposure. The cable news broadcasters voluntarily donated their airtime to Trump. They covered his stump speeches live and uninterrupted for hours on end. They allowed him to conduct phone interviews where he was rarely challenged or held accountable for his remarks. It wasn’t so much a matter of him influencing the news as the news exploiting his unpredictability for ratings.

But there is an even better argument for why Trump did not earn this POY selection. Much of the noise surrounding his campaign was generated by somebody else. Working behind the scenes, Russian President Vladimir Putin was responsible for influencing the news throughout the election year. His interference in American politics was pronounced and frightening. And all of it was aimed at electing Donald Trump. For instance:

Hacking the Democratic National Committee:
The first stirrings of Russian operatives in the U.S. election process came during the Democratic convention in July. The DNC email system was hacked into and private communications stolen from it were published. For some reason the media found it acceptable to make these private documents public. Remember, these were not government documents that the public has a right to know about.

Hacking Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email:
The email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman was also hacked. Again, this was private information that the media made public at the behest of Russian agents. While there was no wrongdoing revealed in these emails, there were things that partisan politicos could exploit and put a negative spin on. They succeeded in turning a huge portion of the campaign into a debate over emails that ultimately proved nothing.

Wikileaks support:
The Russian hackers delivered their stolen data to Wikileaks for distribution. From there Wikileaks released thirty-six separate batches of Clinton’s email. They deliberately strung it out over time in a manner designed to have the most detrimental effect on her campaign. Occasionally they would release a batch timed to a damaging news story about Trump in order to divert the media attention to Clinton and away from Trump.

Hacking voting systems in several states:
Reports of these efforts were the most direct intrusions into actual election processes. Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government are suspected in the onslaught against more than 20 state election systems

Spreading pro-Trump fake news:
The Washington Post reported that “The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.” The epidemic of fake news actually outperformed news from more conventional and reliable sources.

The incidents outlined above arguably resulted in the bulk of media attention throughout the election year. They drove the media narrative and spurred the production of additional stories. Trump himself relied on the information stolen by Russians for much of his campaign rhetoric.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Consequently, Trump was a secondary factor in the influence of news events in 2016. It was Vladimir Putin who was actually steering the events that dominated the news. Putin and his agents succeeded in manipulating both the American press and the American political system. He got his man into the White House. And Trump was nothing but a prop on a much larger and more perilous stage. He is more worthy of being named Puppet of the Year.

TRUMP: I’d Tweet Less If Media Covered Me Accurately – TWITTER: Yeah, Right

Donald Trump’s war with the media has been one of the most disturbing aspects of the 2016 presidential cycle. While other politicians have wrestled with the press, there has never been the sort of viciousness exhibited by Trump. He calls them liars, sleazy, losers, dummies, and other childish insults. He has revoked the press credentials of outlets that weren’t sufficiently adoring. The Committee to Protect Journalists cited Trump as “an unprecedented threat” to press freedom.

Trump Baby

Since Election Day four weeks ago Trump has refused to hold a press conference. That’s longer than any president-elect in forty years. In fact, Trump hasn’t held a press conference since July. And he has plenty of reasons for avoiding the media. Nevertheless, he continues to lash out in ever more ridiculous ways. Take for instance his tweet on Monday:

So Trump is essentially admitting that he only tweets because he isn’t satisfied with the coverage he gets from the media that he is avoiding. That complaint might be taken more seriously if his tweets ever addressed a substantive issue. More often than not they are just self-serving promotions, egotistical bragging, or baseless attacks. And that’s when they aren’t idiotic comments that advance conspiracy theories or risk international crises.

After posting that tweet, the community on Twitter was quick to respond with cogent smack downs. The twitterverse does not sit idly by when confronted with smarmy bullshit. What follows are a few of the choice responses:

It’s not likely that Trump will entertain the common sense in these replies. He’s too busy avoiding national security briefings and tweeting about how unfunny Saturday Night Live is. Trump’s obsession with the treatment he receives from the press symbolizes the inward focus of our Narcissist-in-Chief. Every president experiences what they regard as harsh reviews, but most do so without becoming such petulant crybabies. Despite his protests, the media is covering him accurately and fairly, for the most part. It’s not their fault he’s such an embarrassment to the nation.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Is There An ‘Obama TV’ Network In The President’s Future?

The media has been appropriately focusing on Donald Trump’s transition activities and its unending string of embarrassing and dangerous flubs. In the meantime, little has been said about what President Obama plans to do after he leaves the White House. Former presidents take different paths in retirement from government service. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter went deep into charitable work. The Bushes merely slipped into near reclusive anonymity. And they all have libraries to promote.

Obama

However, President Obama is a unique figure in American history. He is, of course, the first African-American president. But he is also a pioneer in the age of digital media. He beat Donald Trump to social media and embraced its benefits without making an ass of himself. Combine that spirit of innovation and his natural communication skills and a prospective future in media seems plausible.

That’s exactly what is being speculated about by people in the Obama sphere. Jake Horowitz of Mic is reporting that:

“President Barack Obama has been discussing a post-presidential career in digital media and is considering launching his own media company, according to multiple sources who spoke on background because they were not authorized to speak for the president.

Obama considers media to be a central focus of his next chapter, these sources say, though exactly what form that will take — a show streaming on Netflix, a web series on a comedy site or something else — remains unclear. Obama has gone so far as to discuss launching his own media company, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.”

The article is careful not to introduce too much hype. Horowitz notes that some sources are downplaying the possibility. Also, the White House says that Obama “has no plans to get into the media business after he leaves office.” Such denials are to be expected and they haven’t quelled the background noise circulating around the idea. There is even talk about a relationship with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who met with Obama recently in Peru.

Obama may be the most media-focused president in history. He frequently comments on the state of the media and offers insightful criticism. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone he observed that:

“I’ve got the majority on my side, and a healthy majority on my side. The problem is, we’ve got all these filters. Look, if I watched Fox News, I probably wouldn’t vote for me either. Because you’ve got this screen, this funhouse mirror, through which people are receiving their information. How to break through that is a real challenge.

And that:

“I think the question I’d have when it comes to the media is, ‘How do we create a space where the truth gets eyeballs and is entertaining,’ and we can build a common conversation.”

Truth has been the big casualty in the 2016 presidential campaign. We have a president-elect who has accumulated the longest list of provable lies of any other candidate on record. And the outbreak of fake news has become a defining characteristic of social media. It’s impact on the election is difficult to quantify, but studies show that it was far more prevalent among conservatives. Also, there is no doubt that foreign operatives (i.e. Russia) have been instrumental in its distribution.

Fox News, of course, is an ever-present stain on journalism. They have made it their mission to relentlessly attack the President and anything remotely progressive. Simultaneously, they steadfastly promote right-wing politicians and policies. What’s more, they virtually created Donald Trump with the gift of billions of dollars of free airtime.

Prior to the election, when it appeared that Trump would lose, there was speculation that he would might launch a media venture. There were several good reasons why that would fail miserably. However, Obama could have better odds in a difficult marketplace. He is near the top of his popularity as he approaches the end of his term. And his wide network of politicos and celebrities could shape an appealing roster of programming.

One thing is certain: the media is in dire need of a fundamental transformation. It needs to abandon the tabloid sensationalism and conflict model of news. Respect for facts, as opposed to symbolic balance and false equivalencies, needs to be reinforced.

The press is the only profession identified by name in the Constitution. That’s because the framers knew that democracy is unworkable without an informed electorate. What we have now is a vastly disinformed electorate. If Obama were to enter the media with the intention of resolving that problem it could be a more important part of his legacy than the presidency.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Here’s a preview of what Obama TV might look like (courtesy of The Colbert Report):

SO F*CKING WHAT? Trump Tweets That He’ll Hand Business Over To His Fully Conflicted Kids

America’s Robber Baron-Elect, Donald Trump, disgorged himself on Twitter again in a pre-dawn diatribe. This one sought to allay the fears of his extensive conflicts of interest by repeating his prior insufficient explanations.

Donald Trump

Here are the tweets he fired off in his sleepless rant:

Once again, he seems to think that handing his businesses off to his kids removes the potential for corruption. All it does is appoints his kids as the executors of his worldwide graft and bribery operations. He still has complete knowledge of his assets and what government measures would benefit them. Family members cannot be characterized as a “blind trust” and most of his properties around the world have his name plastered on them in gold.

Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel is already playing host to foreign dignitaries. These guests have admitted that they booked the venue to ingratiate themselves to the President-elect. Consequently, Trump could be in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause immediately after taking the oath of office.

Trump casually asserts that he is not mandated by law to divest himself, but that’s not what the Constitution says. He further states that it is only “visually important” to avoid conflicts of interest. Actually avoiding them doesn’t appear to be on his agenda. That suggests that if he can effectively hide his crookedness it would be OK. If he really believes that the presidency is “a far more important task” than his real estate ventures, then why won’t he divest?

There is, perhaps, something more significant in his tweets than the old news that he is promoting his Trumpkins. That’s the announcement that he will hold a press conference on December 15, to address the subject. Trump has not held a press conference in the three weeks since Election Day. That’s the longest period a president-elect has gone without a post-election press conference in forty years. But it’s even worse than that because he hasn’t had a formal press conference at all since July. In fact, with only four exceptions, he hasn’t been interviewed on a non-Fox News outlet in nearly six months. This was so egregious that Fox News even reported it.

It’s not for lack of newsworthy discussion topics. By avoiding the press Trump has evaded questions on serious issues that impact the nation. For instance, an election that is tainted by allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. At least a dozen women who are charging him with sexual assault. His unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election. Payment of $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His cabinet and administration appointees who are affiliated with radical racist organizations. And, of course, his growing list of ethically compromising conflicts of interest.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Now he says he will hold a press conference. The last time he said that he ended up staging an infomercial for his hotel, steaks, and other sundry QVC-esque commodities. Trump enjoys screwing with the press almost as much as lying to it. Consequently, we ought not to expect him to keep his word about the purpose of this gathering. In fact, we should not necessarily expect there to be one at all. Stay tuned.

Trump Gives A Big F.U. To The Media And The Public With A Virtual Press Blackout

Donald Trump was declared the winner of the presidential election two weeks ago. Since that time he has failed to hold a press conference to address the nation he will be representing. This is the longest period a president-elect has gone without a post-election press conference in forty years. But it’s worse than that because he actually hasn’t had a formal press conference since July. Do you suppose there might be a reason for that?

Donald Trump

Speculation could start with the fact that Trump has been more openly hostile to the media than any politician in recent memory. At his rallies he has called them dummies, losers, sleazy, liars, and more. He has not been the least bit shy about expressing his white-hot hatred for the Fourth Estate. He overtly threatened the press with lawsuits and other retribution. That included revoking the press credentials of media outlets he felt were too critical of him. In return, media advocates condemned his reckless behavior as “an unprecedented threat to press freedom.”

However, there are more substantive motives for Trump avoiding press scrutiny. The swarming torrent of scandals swirling around him pose serious risks to his nascent presidency. It begins with his election that is tainted by allegations of voter suppression and his loss of the popular vote. It continues with at least a dozen women who are charging him with sexual assault. Then there are his unsavory connections to Russia and its efforts to interfere with the election.

And that’s not all. Just a few days ago Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His cabinet and administration appointees are affiliated with radical racist organizations. And he has a growing list of ethically compromising conflicts of interest. There has never been a president who has more brazenly used the office for personal gain.

No wonder Trump is avoiding the media. By going four months without taking questions from the press corps, Trump has evaded scrutiny over these and other issues. This may benefit his efforts to silence criticism, but it is a disservice to citizens and to democracy.

Sadly, the media seems to be all too willing to go along with him. Even after the atrocious way that Trump treats the press, they continue to cater to his whims. Very little mention is made of his extended refusal to face the media. That is decidedly different from the treatment that Hillary Clinton received when she went a few weeks without holding a press conference. Even though she did conduct hundreds of interviews with individual reporters, she was hounded and criticized. Fox News displayed a running clock of the days since her last press conference. And there was rampant insinuations of her having something to hide. Where is that criticism for Trump, who is no longer merely a candidate, but president-elect?

When asked when he might hold his first post-election press conference, his spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, would say only “Soon.” She dodged any more specific answer saying that he was too busy with his transition activities. Does she expect him to be less busy when he’s the leader of the free world? What’s more, he wasn’t too busy to convene a private, off the record meeting with the heads of the major media corporations and some leading news anchors. The New York Post revealed some of what took place in that meeting, and it wasn’t pretty:

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said “I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,” the source said.

The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.

To be sure, that account was from the notoriously bombastic New York Post. Some other reports described the get together with less intensity. But while the Post may lean toward melodrama, the others may be more interested in preserving access to the administration. All things considered, the Post’s account sounds more like the Trump we have all come to know.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The old fallacy of the “liberal” media is further undermined by these events. Trump is getting far more favorable treatment than Clinton did under similar circumstances. More importantly, he is getting away with suppressing coverage of his scandalous activities. The media is supposed to hold politicians to account, but they are failing to do their job. If this keeps up for the next four years America will be buried in tabloid irrelevancies. Trump’s improprieties will be state secrets. And the National Enquirer and Breitbart News will become the dominant media and serve as America’s Pravda.

Journalists’ Org BLASTS Trump As ‘An Unprecedented Threat’ To Press Freedom

The United States has never seen the likes of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He has spent the last year and a half engaged solely in puerile insults and personal attacks. His victims have included women, minorities, veterans, and anyone he deemed less than reverential. However, the media has borne much of the weight of his manic scorn. When he isn’t “joking” about killing them, he is calling them scum, losers, dummies, and sleazy. He has revoked the press credentials of people or organizations he doesn’t like, including the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, and more. For a couple of hours he even boycotted Fox News.

Donald Trump

Trump’s hostility toward the press is frighteningly intense. And his authoritarian attitude should alarm anyone who values free speech. Just last week two Pulitzer Prize winning journalists told NPR that Trump is a “clear and present danger” to the First Amendment. Now the Committee to Protect Journalists is weighing in with a statement “in response to Trump’s threats and vilification of the media.”

Here is the statement in full:

Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy. For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.

Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ’s board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ’s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.

Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has insulted and vilified the press and has made his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign. Trump has routinely labeled the press as “dishonest” and “scum” and singled out individual news organizations and journalists.

He has mocked a disabled New York Times journalist and called an ABC News reporter a “sleaze” in a press conference. He expelled Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a campaign press conference because he asked an “impertinent” question, and has publicly demeaned other journalists.

Trump has refused to condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters. His campaign has also systematically denied press credentials to outlets that have covered him critically, including The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Univision, and The Des Moines Register.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom. At a rally in February, Trump declared that if elected president he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” In September, Trump tweeted, “My lawyers want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting.”

While some have suggested that these statements are rhetorical, we take Trump at his word. His intent and his disregard for the constitutional free press principle are clear.

A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious. Any failure of the United States to uphold its own standards emboldens dictators and despots to restrict the media in their own countries. This appears to be of no concern to Trump, who indicated that he has no inclination to challenge governments on press freedom and the treatment of journalists.

When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked him in December if his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin was at all tempered by the country’s history of critical journalists being murdered, his response was: “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country… Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too.”

Through his words and actions, Trump has consistently demonstrated a contempt for the role of the press beyond offering publicity to him and advancing his interests.

For this reason CPJ is taking the unprecedented step of speaking out now. This is not about picking sides in an election. This is recognizing that a Trump presidency represents a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.

Nuff said.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

UPDATE: On October 13, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued an “unprecedented” statement declaring Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “a threat to press freedom unknown in modern history.” And October 14, the National Press Club put out a statement condemning Trump’s anti-press tactics as “unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy.”