Fox News is Literally Lobbying for Revocation of the Constitution’s Protection of the Free Press

On Thursday Donald Trump’s Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, presided over the White House’s (no longer) Daily Press Briefing and proceeded to turn it into a farce by evading questions and outright lying. That, of course, is nothing new. It’s the Standard Operating Procedure for the Trump Communications Office. But what has transpired on Fox News since then is deeply disturbing (which isn’t really new either).

Fox NOT News

At the briefing there were numerous reporters seeking to get Sanders to explain the administration’s position on it’s own policy of ripping children away from parents of asylum seekers. She spent much of her time affirming Trump’s blatant lie that Democrats were responsible for a law that forced him to carry out this heinous practice. But there is no such law. This abuse of human rights was wholly the work of Trump and his cohorts.

When confronted with these facts, Sanders went into a bunker mentality, refusing to answer direct questions or repeating unresponsive talking points. She even descended into personally insulting reporters for merely quoting things she just finished saying. She twisted bible verses in a cynical attempt to support her unconscionable defense of child abuse. And she displayed a callous disregard for the welfare of innocents.

Naturally, Fox News praised Sanders and the Trump administration without reservation or concern for the children. But they went even further to suggest that any criticism, or even just the pursuit of answers, was unpatriotic and disrespectful to a leader they believe must never be challenged. Fox News attacked the journalists who pressed Sanders for answers as animals, which is the same word Trump uses to describe undocumented immigrants. Coincidence?

On Friday two of Fox’s most prominent hosts actually advocated openly for censorship and the suppression of independent journalism. They flagrantly campaigned to silence dissenting voices in the media by prohibiting them from doing their jobs. That’s more than an attack on the reporters, it’s an attack on the Constitution. It violates the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of the press. However, it also puts the grotesque, fascist ideology of Fox News on display for all to see. Cases in point, these commentaries by Fox’s Lou Dobbs and Jesse Watters:

Dobbs: You would think someone would be assigned to slap the hell out of somebody. We’ll talk to our panel tonight about whether it’s time the bar some of these so-called journalists from the White House briefing room permanently.

Watters: These people don’t belong there. They are jokes. They need to start ripping press passes away. If you’re going to act like a wild animal, you don’t belong there.

Remember, the reporters they are criticizing were trying to get answers about the Trump administration’s practice of tearing apart families and warehousing babies in concentration camp-like facilities. So who are the animals? And this isn’t the first time that journalists have had their jobs threatened in this manner. On Tuesday, Trump’s 2020 campaign manger, Brad Parscale, tweeted that CNN’s Jim Acosta “should immediately have his press credentials suspended.” And Trump’s senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, appeared shortly after that on Fox and Friends to concur with Parscale’s totalitarian-friendly tweet.

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

There is something especially contemptible about an alleged “news” enterprise calling for the suppression of the rights of fellow journalists. But Fox News is unabashedly doing just that. They want all reporting to consist only of drooling adoration of Trump and anything less than that must be quashed. This is more evidence (as if it was necessary) that Fox is not a news outlet at all. They are the PR division of the Trump administration and an obedient purveyor of unvarnished propaganda. And if they are allowed to succeed with their mission to suppress free speech we can wave goodbye to the freedom and democracy upon which it relies.

On Fox News Trump Shill Kellyanne Conway Affirms Demand to Censor CNN Reporter

Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency he has made a point expressing his hostility to the Constitution’s protection of the free press and to anyone who would challenge his supremacy as King of America. Trump has slandered the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the American people.” And he frequently calls out reporters by name to accuse them of being “fake news.” Of course, by his definition any news that is less than glassy-eyed adoration he regards as fake.

Kellyanne Conway

As the Trump-Kim Circus drew to a close this week, Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, parroted Trump’s loathing for the press in a Tweet that appears to imitate Trump’s own rancor. He said that:

That anti-American outburst drew an appropriate reply from CNN’s Acosta, who told Parscale that “Dictatorships take away press credentials. Not democracies.” Not that that will have any impact on the censorious attitudes of Trump and his minions. Earlier Parscale posted a similarly totalitarian notion in a tweet that said that “The media should be cheering @realDonaldTrump’s progress with North Korea.” As if it’s the job of the media to “cheer” for any politician.

Naturally, Fox News rushed to Parscale’s defense by delivering their own attack on Acosta. On Fox and Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt introduced a segment with Trump’s Senior Counselor, Kellyanne Conway, by quoting the headline of an article from the ultra-rightist website, The Daily Wire: “Watch: CNN’s Jim Acosta interrupts historic signing ceremony, shouts at Trump.” Surprisingly, she then played the video showing Acosta to be rather demure and respectful, which contradicts the whole narrative of her reporting. That was followed by this exchange (video below):

Earhardt: So there are some critics, Kellyanne, saying that he was choosing the wrong moment, a historic moment, to throw out questions to the President. And then the 2020 campaign manager for President Trump, Brad Parscale, who’s been on our show before, he’s now calling for Acosta to lose his press credentials. He thought it was inappropriate. What are your thoughts, and what are the President’s thoughts?
Conway: Well, some people in the White House press corps do that routinely. I’m not naming any names cause why give it oxygen? They certainly want to make it about me, myself, and I. On Twitter they’re all a hot mess with all this snark and bark toward this president and those who work for him, including those at the White House, in the Cabinet and elsewhere. Things that would not pass editorial muster in the newspaper. I call it social media muscle, cable news cajones. Many of them demonstrate that but don’t have the courage.

Conway, of course, is an expert on hot messes and can snark and bark with the best of them. but if you’re paying attention you will have noticed that Conway failed to take issue with Parscale’s desire to see reporters get punished for being independent and aggressive seekers of truth. Rather, she affirmed the criticism that anyone who disagrees with the President is an annoyance and a coward who ought to be silenced. That’s the sort of philosophy practiced by tyrants like Trump’s new BFF, Kim Jong Un. And Conway elaborated on by adding that:

“People really need to figure out how to cover this president in a respectful manner. They can be skeptical. They can be probing. But there’s a time and a place. Be a polite house guest.”

Exactly. Treat Trump with the same measure of refined courtesy that Fox News and Conway treated President Obama for eight years. You remember. The constant allegations that he was a Muslim born in Kenya who associated with terrorists and hated America. That kind of “respectful manners.” Right?

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

Trump Says He Believes in the Free Press – That He Says is ‘The Enemy of the American People’

On Thursday Donald Trump participated in a press avail with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Reporters asked him about how he was preparing for the (allegedly) upcoming summit meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump replied “I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude.” That, besides being a frightening glimpse into Trump’s diseased mindset, is typical of his notorious aversion to learning anything or knowing what the fudge he’s talking about. A responsible leader would study vigorously for weeks prior to a meeting as important as the one with Kim.

Donald Trump

On Friday Trump took a few minutes to answer some questions on his way the G7 meeting in Canada. When reporters sought to confirm his troubling statement about preparation, Trump lied and said that he never said it. He then went on to say that his unedited remarks specified that he had been preparing his whole life for this meeting. However, he didn’t say anything of the kind. And even if he had, that would only exacerbate the idiocy of his thinking. You can’t prepare for a specific diplomatic encounter with a lifetime of greed, lust, and ego gratification. Clearly he had not been preparing for such a meeting his whole life. Trump’s life could only be considered preparation for becoming a dishonest, morally and financially bankrupt, reality TV game show host and treasonous tool of America’s enemies.

In refuting the accurate reports of his inability and contempt for preparation, Trump once again blamed the whole thing on “fake news.” Which makes what he said immediately after all the more ironic. The subject had segued to leakers in government. So Trump wanted to make sure that everyone knew about his commitment to the free press. He said that:

“I believe strongly in freedom of press. I’m a big, big believer in freedom of press. But I’m also a believer in classified information.”

The evidence of Trump’s belief in freedom of the press is somewhere between thin and nonexistent. This is the president who has repeatedly referred to the press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the American people.” And his insistence on adding the prefix “fake” whenever he refers to the news is a deliberate attempt to discredit all of the media, as well as the Constitution that protects it. His all too obvious purpose is to lay a foundation of distrust so that he can dismiss any reporting that is critical of him. He has literally called for the jailing of reporters and for prohibiting media sources he doesn’t like from covering him. That’s his idea of a strong belief in freedom of the press.

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

Trump is going to cut his G7 visit short because he’s too scared of spending time with the American allies he’s alienated. And since his pal Vladimir Putin won’t be there, it couldn’t be much fun for him. Trump said that Russia should be readmitted to the G7. But why would that be necessary since he is there to do whatever Putin would want? Then he’s off to hang out with Kim in Singapore, where his life of preparation will likely result in him giving Hawaii to North Korea. And if he gets his way, there will be no media there (except for Fox News) to report it.

Trump Threatens to ‘Take Away Credentials’ of Media that Doesn’t Slobber Him with Praise

Reporters Without Borders publishes an annual World Press Freedom Index. The most recent study reported that the United States fell to 45th place, a new low. Much of that decline was attributed explicitly to Donald Trump, whose open hostility to the media has been a core component of his presidency.

Donald Trump

Continuing to push forward with his aggressively anti-First Amendment agenda, Trump took to his official presidential policy platform – Twitter – and posted a comment that is a further demonstration of just how extreme his hatred of the free press is. This tweet should frighten all Americans who value constitutional principles and the indispensable role the press plays in democracy:

There is so much wrong with that tweet that it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, the economy has been expanding for nearly ten years, and that expansion began near the beginning of President Obama’s first term. Contrary to Trump’s claim, for which he provides no factual support, the economy has largely stalled as of late. The Dow Jones is down year-to-date. And Trump has been undeservedly taking credit for an economy whose performance has trailed that of Obama’s.

Secondly, Trump is actually admitting that, in his view, any media that is negative is therefore fake. It isn’t surprising to learn that he feels that way, but it’s a little surprising that he says so publicly.

Third, Trump’s reference to network news being ninety-one percent negative about him was likely taken from Sean Hannity’s program last night. Hannity reported that statistic based on a dubious study by the ultra-rightist media watchdogs at NewsBusters. And he wrapped the biased data in the same package as Trump, fretting about his negative coverage despite the utopia he’s supposedly presiding over. This is another example of Hannity serving as a close advisor to this fumbling president (video below):

Hannity: “President Trump’s poll numbers, they’re rising. This despite a Newsbusters study showed that newtwork news broadcasts in this country featured negative stories about the President 90% of the time. Wow. And I told you journalism is dead.”

Notice the similarities between Hannity’s commentary and Trump’s tweet. But the most troubling part of Trump’s tweet is his threat to revoke press credentials for any media that fails to exalt the Dear Leader. Trump has long pined for a submissive press corps that only celebrates his every word and deed. This isn’t the first (or twentieth) time that Trump has attempted to punish the press by banishing them from the White House or worse, challenge their licenses. Last October he explicitly tweeted that threat saying:

The fact that Trump repeatedly takes this censorious position is evidence that it isn’t just an offhand remark that he doesn’t mean literally. He is deadly serious about his intention to gag any media that dares to criticize him. And in advance of that he has been avoiding any independent media for most of the last year. He’s only held one solo news conference (February 2017, just after the inauguration) during his entire presidency. And he hasn’t given an interview to a non-friendly (i.e. Fox News) outlet in the past year. What’s he afraid of?

The World Press Freedom study noticed these disturbing trends for American journalism. They addressed them specifically in their report as reasons for downgrading the U.S. position:

“In 2017, the 45th President of the United States helped sink the country to 45th place by labeling the press an ‘enemy of the American people’ in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempts to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routine use of the term ‘fake news’ in retaliation for critical reporting, and calling for media outlets’ broadcasting licenses to be revoked.”

The American people need to be alert with regard to the threat that Trump represents to the freedom of the press and the sustainability of democracy. These are not idle threats made as political rhetoric. They are dangerous challenges made by a wannabe dictator who truly believes he has the right to muzzle the media and mislead the people. We the people cannot let that happen.

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

Trump’s GOP: A Majority Embrace His Stalinist Rant that ‘the Media is the Enemy of the People’

There are innumerable ways in which Donald Trump has damaged the United States during the last fifteen tumultuous months. Even setting aside his unsavory connections to Russia and his role in helping them subvert our democracy, Trump’s negative impact is historically catastrophic. It’s ironic that he repeatedly brags that he has done more in his first year than any other president. Because he’s right, although not in the way his narcissistic dementia leads him to believe.

Donald Trump GOP

Trump has brazenly ignored long-standing principles for financial conflicts of interest. He has terminated regulations that protect citizens from environmental harm, consumer abuse, healthcare, and workplace safety. He has promoted discrimination against vulnerable communities encompassing race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. He has recklessly dangled the prospect of war with nuclear powers like Iran and North Korea. He has violated laws associated with ethical governing and has been frequently repudiated by the federal courts. And he has generally lowered the standards for civil discourse with his infantile name-calling, insulting, bullying, slandering, and outright lying.

But nowhere in this morass of corruption and immorality has Trump been more destructive than with his hostility to the free press and the First Amendment. He has made attacking the media a core component of his march to authoritarian rule. His cries of “fake news” whenever any journalist dares to report facts that he doesn’t like ring out across the landscape of the deplorable disciples that he cultivates. And it’s having an overtly dangerous effect on the national political environment.

A new poll by Quinnipiac asked voters this question: “Which comes closer to your point of view: the news media is the enemy of the people, or the news media is an important part of democracy?” The response by all respondents shows that a majority consider the media to be “an important part of democracy” (66 -22 percent). And while that 44 point difference is significant, it’s still frighteningly low. But it was brought down by one particular group of respondents. A majority of Republicans (51%) said that the media is “the enemy of the people.” No other demographic sector came anywhere close to that.

The phrasing of the question was clearly designed to elicit support or opposition to Trump’s infamous disparagement of the press. He has frequently called the media “the enemy of the people” in his rallies and public statements. It’s a concept he borrowed from dictators like Joseph Stalin. But the fact that it has caught on with so many Republican voters is more than a little disturbing. It indicates that Trump is successfully infecting a segment of the population with an ideology that is flagrantly anti-American. And worse – it’s pro-totalitarian dictatorship.

Fortunately, other results from the survey are more comforting:

  • Voters trust the media more than Trump to tell the truth about important issues: 53 – 37 percent.
  • The vast majority of voters say that Trump should not fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller: 74 – 13 percent (including 59 – 25 percent among Republicans).
  • More people believe James Comey than Trump: 54 – 35 percent.
  • More voters believe that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump: 53 – 35 percent.
  • American voters disapprove of the job Scott Pruitt is doing as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: 52 – 25 percent.

Still, that doesn’t absolve the Republican Party from embracing a despicable philosophy that denigrates the press and disrespects the Constitution. If they have problems with the media they should seek to reform and/or improve it, while still cherishing its ideals. Their position that it’s an opponent of democracy casts it as something that needs to be defeated and done away with. And that makes them the real foes of democracy.

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

Thanks to Donald Trump the U.S. Falls to 45th Place in the World Press Freedom Index

There is no question that Donald Trump is a bitter enemy of of press freedom and the Constitution’s First Amendment. He has relentlessly maligned the media in an attempt to persuade his followers that he is the only source of truthful information about the government and his administration. It’s a tactic that has been favored by authoritarian tyrants throughout history.

Donald Trump Censorship

Now Reporters Without Borders has released their latest annual study on international press freedom. The World Press Freedom Index is a ranking of the status of the media around the world. The study asserts that threats to press freedom and to journalists are growing, and warns that “hostility towards the media” is “openly encouraged by political leaders.” And the study’s opening paragraphs are clear about the sources of these escalating threats:

“More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion. The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as ‘enemies of the people,’ the term once used by Joseph Stalin.”

Trump’s attacks are are rooted in his seething fear that honest journalism will educate the public about his incompetency and criminality. So he has taken to calling any reporting that is critical of him “fake news”. While most Americans see through this infantile name-calling, his base of “Deplorables” devour it with an all-consuming ignorance and cultish devotion.

Trump has no regard for the harm he is doing to the nation and the world, whose dictators have adopted the Trump model for destroying the press. The study notes these threats as it goes into deeper detail with descriptions of the dangerous hostility that Trump holds for the the media that he is determined to undermine. What follows is the section of the study that focuses on the United States and its media-hating leader:

“In 2017, the 45th President of the United States helped sink the country to 45th place by labeling the press an ‘enemy of the American people’ in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempts to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routine use of the term ‘fake news’ in retaliation for critical reporting, and calling for media outlets’ broadcasting licenses to be revoked. President Trump has routinely singled out news outlets and individual journalists for their coverage of him, and retweeted several violent memes targeting CNN.

The violent anti-press rhetoric from the White House has been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at the local level as journalists run the risk of arrest for covering protests or simply attempting to ask public officials questions. Reporters have even been subject to physical assault while on the job.

Press freedom violations in the country of the First Amendment in fact have become so frequent of late that RSF joined a coalition of more than two dozen press freedom organizations to launch the US Press Freedom Tracker in August, which documented 34 arrests of journalists in 2017, the majority while covering protests (find out more on the tracker).”

This study is just the latest verification of how destructive Trump’s anti-media mission is, and the scale with which it produces tangible harm. He has previously been cited as an an unprecedented threat to press freedom by the Committee to Protect Journalists. And he isn’t getting any better with time. He just sent out a fundraising email that explains his decision not to attend the White House Correspondent’s Dinner this weekend. It should be noted that this is an annual event for charity that almost always features the sitting president, who joins in the lighthearted roast. But Trump whined to his donors, “Why would I want to be stuck in a room with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me?”

Trump’s gnawing loathing for the press is also apparent in his avoidance of any scrutiny by independent journalists. He has not had a solo press conference in over a year. The only one he has held as President was shortly after his inauguration. Nor has he submitted to an interview with anyone other than friendly “news” outlets like Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network in nearly a year.

Unfortunately for our frightened president, his cowardice has been noticed by the majority of America’s citizens. They understand that a leader who is afraid to face the press is not a leader at all. Consequently, surveys that asked who the people trust more – the media or Trump – consistently show that the people have greater trust for the media than for the spineless cretin temporarily occupying the White House. And that, at least, is a hopeful sign for the future.

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

Sinclair State-TV Chairman to Trump: ‘We Are Here to Deliver Your Message’

As the walls close in on Donald Trump and his crime syndicate associates, the conservative propaganda networks are furiously trying to twist the facts into an unrecognizable perversion of reality. Fox News is at the top of the list of Trump-fluffing sycophants with hosts and contributors who relentlessly defend the President and smear his critics.

Donald Trump

However, Fox News is not alone on that battlefront. Sinclair Broadcasting is moving at breakneck speed to offer an alternative to Fox that is even more extreme and irresponsibly dishonest. With their “must run” segments featuring former Trump shill Boris Epshteyn, and their mandatory corporate written screeds against “fake” news, Sinclair poses a serious risk to journalism and democracy.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Sinclair’s chairman, David Smith, made a deal with Trump to provide him positive coverage if he granted them greater access. They were blatantly selling their integrity to get closer to Trump. Now the Guardian is reporting that Smith was even more servile when he secretly met with Trump at the White House. The Guardian discloses that:

“The chairman of Sinclair Broadcast Group met Donald Trump at the White House during a visit to pitch a potentially lucrative new product to administration officials, the Guardian has learned.

“David D Smith, whose company has been criticised for making its anchors read a script echoing Trump’s attacks on the media, said he briefed officials last year on a system that would enable authorities to broadcast direct to any American’s phone.

“‘I just wanted them to be aware of the technology,” Smith said in an interview. He also recalled an earlier meeting with Trump during the 2016 election campaign, where he told the future president: ‘We are here to deliver your message.'”

Oh really? Promising to be there to deliver a president’s message is not the mission of a legitimate news enterprise. To the contrary, it’s the mission of journalistic lackeys with a political agenda who are brazenly and unabashedly biased. And everything that Sinclair does affirms that it is serving as a mouthpiece for Trump and the Republican Party.

The Guardian also asked Smith about the rightward leanings of his operation, which he forthrightly denied. He called assertions that the scripts he forced his anchors to read were biased in favor of Trump “the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” That’s like Hannibal Lecter feigning offense that anyone might suggest he eats people. But his justification for that denial just made matters even worse. He said that:

“If people believe you more than they believe somebody else, they’re more likely to watch you,” he said. “And you know what that means? We might get a higher rating. And you know what that means? We will therefore make our spots worth more. And you know what that means? That means I will make more money, which means I can pay you more money.”

In summary, he’s saying that it’s his policy to convince viewers that all other sources of news are false. And the purpose of that slander is to discredit the press at large in order to get more viewers for Sinclair. That’s different than competing news organizations touting their skills and experience to appeal to their audience. It is a cult-like scheme to convince gullible people that only one truth exists and that Sinclair owns it. And it dovetails perfectly with Trump’s cultist tendencies that aim to achieve the same blind loyalty.

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

Sinclair is currently trying to expand their reach by buying their largest competitor, Tribune Media. Trump’s Federal Communications Commission is likely to approve the acquisition, despite its breach of existing regulations. The American people need to join together to preserve the integrity of our free press. And one way to do that is to visit Stop Sinclair and lobby Congress to intervene to oppose this dangerous, anti-consumer merger.

Is Trump ‘Complicit’ in Terrorist Threat By Supporter to ‘Gun Down’ CNN Employees?

Two days ago Donald Trump released a campaign ad that made a remarkable and nauseating accusation. The ad was rife with racist rhetoric and insults aimed at his political foes. The most disturbing part was where it charged that “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.” That is not only flaming bigotry, but it also demonstrates a totalitarian warning to anyone who might stand in the way of the Bully-in-Chief.

Trump Charlotsville

The ominous tones of that ad are reflected in the news that a terrorist threat has just been made against CNN employees. A caller to the CNN office in Atlanta made overtly terroristic threats that were filled with profanities and racial epithets. More than twenty calls were made within a two day period. The caller’s irrational outrage was expressed in terms that are recognizable to anyone who has been following Donald Trump. According to CNN:

“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” said the caller, who cursed and used an expletive directed at African-Americans, the affidavit said.

“I am on my way right now to gun the f****** CNN cast down …. I am coming to kill you,” the caller said a second call to CNN, according to affidavit.

Sound familiar (more detail here)? These are sentiments that Trump has been disgorging for the past couple of years. His hostility toward the media is well documented. He has maligned them in Stalinist language as “the enemy of the people.” He demeans reporters as “sleazy,” “dishonest,” and “horrible people.” He advocates changing laws to make it easier to sue publishers. He has featured CNN in particular as the victim of his violent abuse in tweets where he body slams them or runs them down with a train.

Trump has even speculated about literally killing reporters. It may have been his idea of a joke, but is the consideration of murdering journalists really funny? At a campaign rally in Virginia he revealed his true feelings about the press to his audience of drooling disciples saying “I hate some of these people, I hate ’em. [But…] I would never kill them. I would never do that. Uh, let’s see, uh…” He eventually concluded that he probably wouldn’t kill them, but he had to think about it.

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

And now one of his devoted minions has taken it to the next level by openly threatening the same news organization that Trump has attacked with unambiguously violent rhetoric and imagery. What did Trump expect? This was as predictable as a sunrise. And just because this crackpot was foiled doesn’t mean there aren’t others waiting for their opportunities. When Trump says that Democrats are complicit for any murders committed by undocumented immigrants he is reaching way too far to make any sense. But his warped logic applies much more accurately to his own incitement to violence against the media. And if one of his twisted troops manages to follow through on his mission, there will most assuredly be blood on Trump’s hands.

Jeff Flake Castigates Trump’s ‘Disgraceful’ Assault on the Free Press with Comparisons to Stalin

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate Wednesday that took Donald Trump to task for his attacks on the free press. Trump has been stomping on the First Amendment for the past couple of years with the intention of delegitimizing the only non-governmental institution that can hold politicians like Trump accountable. Trump needs to make certain that his base will reject the media when it is critical of him. And like every other cult leader, his goal is to insure that he is considered the only source of truth.

Donald Trump Tyrant Dictator

Flake’s speech dived deep into Trump’s thinly veiled aspirations for dictatorship. And he did a good job of highlighting the close relationship between Trump’s rhetoric and that of notorious tyrants of history. What follows are some excerpts of Flake’s address that are particularly relevant. And the full video is posted below.

“Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”

“And of course the President has it precisely backwards. Despotism is the enemy of the people. A free press is the despot’s enemy. Which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him ‘fake news,’ it is that figure who should be the person of suspicion, not the press. […] And so, we know well that no matter how powerful, no president will ever have dominion over objective reality. No politician will ever tell us what the truth is, and what it is not.”

“No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those assaults on our institutions. And an American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame, is charting a very dangerous path. And a congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to that danger. Now we are told via Twitter that today the President intends to announce his choice for ‘The Most Corrupt and Dishonest Media Awards.’ It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle. But here we are.”

“This feedback loop is disgraceful, Mr. President. Not only has this past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has now in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians with his own language. That is reprehensible.”

This speech clearly expresses what’s wrong with a president who seeks authoritarian powers and disrespects freedom of the press. It’s unfortunate that Flake waited to give it until after he had announced that he is not running for reelection. And it would be nice if his words were matched with actions that actually held Trump to account. Sadly, politicians often delay any display of courage until after they’ve quit being politicians. Let’s see if Flake, or any of his colleagues, will put some muscle behind their words and do what must be done when a president so badly violates his oath of office: Impeachment.

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

Trump’s Zeal to Reform ‘Sham’ Libel Laws Would Expose Him to 100’s of Defamation Lawsuits

Donald Trump opened a cabinet meeting Wednesday morning by welcoming the press to “the studio.” It may have been a sarcastic remark, but it reveals his tendency to view everything from the perspective of a former reality TV game show host which, of course, he is. The portion of the meeting that was allowed to be televised just went downhill from there.

Donald Trump

The cringeworthy public appearances by this president continue to mount, although he seems to be entirely oblivious to how embarrassing they are. Underscoring that, during this cabinet meeting Trump made a point of exalting his own performance during an addled immigration PR stunt on Tuesday. He said that reporters had sent him emails calling it “One of the greatest meetings they’ve ever witnessed.”

WTF? That’s just more proof that he’s totally nuts. The meeting was an unmitigated bore except for the part when he zoned out and accidentally endorsed a “clean” DACA bill. He had to be bailed out by GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, but he still didn’t appear to grasp what he said that was wrong. And I’d love to see those alleged emails. Given Trump’s reputation as a notoriously pathological liar, it’s fairly certain that no such emails exist.

Most of the televised meeting was consumed by Trump praising himself for things he never did. The only part of the meeting that covered anything substantive was when Trump made a plea to reform libel laws. He said that:

“We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts. If somebody says something that is totally false, and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled, will have meaningful recourse.

“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness. So we’re gonna take a strong look at that. We want fairness. You can’t say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account.”

Let’s set aside for the moment that no one in America has made more knowingly false, defamatory comments than Donald Trump. And frequently they served to enrich him. But make no mistake, this is a blatant attempt to seek revenge against anyone who dares to be critical of Trump. He is striking back at Michael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury,” and the members of his staff who were quoted in the book. He is targeting those behind the Steele Dossier and the news organizations that published it. This is a position that threatens freedom of the press, which he has made a priority of his presidency.

What’s interesting about this, however, is that the proposed reforms he would consider would very likely backfire. No one has exposed himself to more potential libel allegations than Donald Trump. Every time he calls a reporter a liar, or asserts as fact that unnamed sources don’t exist, or alleges that a story was deliberately made up, Trump is slandering those reporters and harming their reputations and careers. Every time he lashes out with his juvenile nicknames at people he is claiming are “lyin,” “failing,” or “crooked,” he is asserting a falsehood that could trigger litigation under his reform.

And then there are the outright lies that Trump has told about his critics and political foes. Think of the lawsuit that might have been filed after Trump accused Ted Cruz’s father of being part of the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. Could President Obama have sued after being charged with wiretapping Trump? There have been literally hundreds of comments and tweets by Trump that were demonstrably false, but manifestly injured their targets. For instance, what about the sixteen women who have spoken out about Trump’s sexual abuse? He called every one of them liars. One of them (so far) has filed a defamation suit which Trump, ironically, is seeking to have dismissed. So much for opening up the libel laws.

It’s plain that Trump’s only purpose here is to silence his critics. There are plenty of safeguards in current law that protect people from deliberate slander and libel. Even if committed by the media. The truth of that is demonstrated by Trump’s own lawyer who just filed a defamation lawsuit against Buzzfeed for publishing the Steele Dossier. He’ll have his day in court (which he’ll likely end up regretting). But Trump isn’t interested in truth. He’s seeking the sort of tyrannical control of the press that all dictators lust after. But he is to stupid to recognize how destructive it would be to democracy. If the consequences weren’t so horrendous, it might actually be fun to let Trump have his way and then see how many people sue him.

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