Sunday’s Trump Tweetstorm Calls First Amendment Illegal, ‘Should Be Tested in Courts’

If it’s Sunday, this Donald Trump’s regularly scheduled Twitter tantrum. Like clockwork, the President is firing off nearly incoherent messages that attack his critics, lie about easily verified matters, and promote his favorite source of propaganda, and the PR division of the Trump White House, Fox News. It’s a display of desperation that only serves to make him appear more guilty and afraid of the coming consequences of his criminal acts.

Donald Trump

Leading off Trump’s parade of polemics is a tweet that reinforces Trump’s long-held aversion to free speech and the First Amendment of the Constitution. We are all familiar with Trump’s denouncement of the press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” and his projectile vomiting of invectives at journalists who have the audacity to report what he actually does and says. And now we have Trump literally threatening to legally censor the media for doing its job:

Does Trump really think that Saturday Night Live is a news program that can be put alongside NBC News as a provider of coverage of his administration? Apparently any media entity that fails to kiss up to the Snowflake-in-Chief is subject to his hostile harangues. But this tweet goes even further to demand that the press be constrained by some legal authority to prostrate itself to what he believes is fair. Every president has had to undergo criticism from both journalists and satirists, but Trump’s skin is way to thin to take it. That’s common for cowards and tyrants who feel the need to control society and suppress those who don’t sufficiently worship Dear Leader.

The rest of Trump’s morning meltdown was equally disturbing. He babbled nonsensically about text messages by former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. His rant was lifted from the ultra-rightist webzine The Federalist, which failed to understand the agency’s report regarding the disposition of those texts:

Trump agreed with the Federalist’s phony assertions that the messages were deleted and lost. They weren’t. The agency recovered and preserved them after a temporary tech glitch. But this triggered his knee-jerk outcry of “Witch Hunt” which he continued in another tweet:

What Trump calls “breaking in” is more commonly referred to as the accumulation of evidence by law enforcement. And the subject of the investigation, Trump’s lawyer, complimented the FBI as “extremely professional, courteous and respectful,” and later pleaded guilty to the charges against him. What’s more, Cohen unambiguously fingered Trump as being the facilitator of the crimes in his case. That’s surely what Trump is really mad about.

As for the bit about Hillary Clinton’s server, she voluntarily gave the FBI a complete copy of it, so they had no need to take physical possession. But having no legal ground to stand on, Trump resorted to dredging up old stories about his nemesis, President Obama.

Trump is falsely claiming that Obama’s immigration policies were “far worse” than what the Trump administration has done by grotesquely seperating children from their parents (which he’s still doing, and even justifying it). That’s demonstrably untrue. It was only Trump’s policy to charge every asylum seeker with felonies that resulted in the separations. And if that obvious attempt at misdirection wasn’t sufficient to deflect attention from his problems, Trump also tried this one:

Really? Ken Starr? He headed up the persecution of the Clintons twenty years ago, and after finding no evidence of any crime, started to dig into Bill Clinton’s sex life. He’s hardly a credible source for anything having to do with Trump’s criminal behavior. And naturally, Trump saw Starr’s comments while watching Fox News.

This frantic outburst on Twitter is just the latest example of a mind that is utterly warped by the trepidation of being caught having committed a historic crime spree. And in utter distress due to the gloomy fate that awaits him, Trump is lashing out like the wounded vermin that he is. And while every untrue utterance he made is bad enough for the nation to be worried about his mental degradation, his calls to punish the press are the most troubling.

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

Trump is acting out the behavior of a fallen dictator desperately trying to hang on to whatever power he has left. But with the walls of justice closing in around him, he has nowhere to hide. A recent report notes that every entity that he has headed – the Trump Org, Trump Foundation, Trump campaign, Trump transition team, Trump inaugural committee, and the Trump White House – are under investigation. When he does go down, he’s going to go down hard.

LATE BREAKING: Trump must not be very busy presidenting today because he posted four more tweets this afternoon (so far).

One was a demand to watch a Fox News interview of conspiracy crackpot Jerome Corsi.

Then two more (here and here), also triggered by Fox News, were about former Trump advisor, and confessed felon, Michael Flynn being “persecuted” by Robert Mueller. Of particular note was Trump saying that Jeff Sessions “should be ashamed of himself” for allowing the “HOAX” to get started. So should Trump’s new Acting AG Whitaker also be ashamed for not stopping it?

And finally, Trump added a tweet that was just boilerplate “Witch Hunt” bashing and denying his collusion. You know, like all innocent people do obsessively.

Trump Has a Fear of Comedians that’s Rooted in His Fear of Looking Like a Fool – Too Late

The White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD) is an annual affair that raises funds to provide scholarships for gifted journalism students. In past years it has featured notable comedians who often skewer both the press and the politicians who attend the event. The President of the United States is almost always in attendance. However, Donald Trump has been a no-show for two years in a row.

Donald Trump

The last president to decline to attend was Ronald Reagan. But he had a pretty good excuse. He was recovering from the bullet wounds of a would-be assassin. Trump’s reason for snubbing the event is pure cowardice. For years Trump has whined about comedians making jokes at his expense. His skin is so thin that it needs a coat of orange primer before he can go out in a light breeze. And many of the targets of his animated anus (sorry, that was the auto-correct) animus have been comedians that deigned to make him the butthead of their jokes. From Rosie O’Donnell to Bill Maher to Stephen Colbert to Jon Stewart, and so many more, Trump has devoted an incredible amount of time on maligning them personally and professionally.

Trump has focused particular attention on the past guest comedians of the WHCD. The routine by Seth Meyers in 2011 (video below) really set him off, and some say contributed to his decision to run for president as some sort of perverse revenge. But it was last year’s comic, Michelle Wolf, who brought out Trump’s inner (and outer) petulant child. Wolf did a brilliantly cutting monologue that burned both Trump and his surrogate, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who showed up in his place.

The controversy generated by Wolf’s routine has now caused the WHCD to announce that they will not have a comedian next year. It’s a pathetically weak response to controversy by an organization that is supposed to stand for freedom of speech. Instead they will feature a historian, Ron Chernow. And this news has pleased Donald Trump to no end. He even tweeted about:

First of all, Trump needs to be corrected, again. Wolf bombed so badly that she got her own TV show on Netflix. Poor thing. And she had an epic reply to Trump’s petty criticisms:

Nevertheless, Trump is so thrilled with the WHCD’s decision to host an author that he is hinting that he might actually attend this year. Or more accurately, threatening. Because no one really wants him to be there. His presence would be a disruption wherein he would demand all of the attention and then complain about it afterwards. However, Trump might be sorely disappointed if he musters the gumption to attend. Chernow is not exactly one of the Trump-fluffers that populate Fox News. He has some pointed opinions about Trump that could very well make their way into his presentation. According to Politico:

“During the 2016 election campaign, Chernow said he was disturbed by Trump’s campaign and feared that Americans ‘can forget who we are as a people and succumb to historical amnesia.’

“‘Make no mistake about it, when the past is scrubbed clean and American history becomes a blank slate, Donald Trump or any other demagogue can come along and write upon it whatever the hell he wants. And that disturbs me most of all,’ he said in a video posted on Facebook. ‘Please, please, please folks, don’t let it happen here.'”

A dinner affair with the press is not an especially good fit for this president who hates the media with a passion. And the journalists present surely would object to sitting next to a bloviating ignoramus who just tried to ban a CNN reporter, Jim Acosta, from the White House, and insulted three African-American journalists. As a result of those confrontations, Trump has now issued a decree to “govern the conduct of journalists,” something the press corps certainly won’t tolerate. In addition, Trump’s siding with the murderers in Saudi Arabia who killed and dismembered a Washington Post correspondent and American resident, Jamal Khashoggi, can’t sit well with an organization committed to the welfare of journalists.

However, the prospect of Trump attending the dinner could have a brighter side. It might be worth it to see Trump grimace through twenty minutes of a historian bashing his disrespect for the First Amendment and his Stalinist rhetoric about the media being “the enemy of the people.” The camera picking up his reactions to Chernow’s academically reinforced criticisms could be funnier than any of the comedians that might have been on the bill. Because there is one thing that hurts Trump even more than Melania laughing at his trouser toadstool (h/t Stormy). And that’s looking like a fool. But unfortunately for him, that ship of fools has sailed. And Trump has to eventually accept the fact that “The whole world is watching laughing. At him.

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

Two-Faced Fox News: Both Supporting and Attacking CNN’s Lawsuit Against Trump

The split personality of Fox News is on display with regard to the controversy over their treatment of CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta. The Trump administration revoked Acosta’s press pass last week after a contentious exchange with Donald Trump at a press conference. Trump’s behavior at the event was over the top, even for him. He viciously lashed out and insulted Acosta and several other reporters, including three African-American women.

Fox News, Donald Trump

However, what’s making the headlines now is the administration’s revocation of access to the White House for Acosta and the subsequent lawsuit filed by CNN to restore his First Amendment rights. The suit has been hailed by most of the journalistic community including the White House Correspondents Association and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. And even Fox News issued a statement in support of CNN’s lawsuit:

“FOX News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential. We intend to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”

Fox couldn’t resist highlighting what they called an “antagonistic tone.” but at least they included Trump in the criticism. The rest of the statement is a solid defense of the First Amendment. The problem is that this sentiment expressed by their management is not shared by their program hosts.

For instance, on her Tuesday night program Laura Ingraham is not so supportive. She called the lawsuit a “stunt” and a “farce.” Fox’s media correspondent, Howard Kurtz, wrote an op-ed Tuesday criticizing CNN, saying that “By taking the president to court, CNN also reinforces its image among millions of Trump supporters as part of the opposition.” And Wednesday on the air Kurtz said that “I think this suit is more of a PR effort than a legal one.” Martha MacCallum hosted former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer who dismissed freedom of the press saying that “It’s not a right to be able to go over to the White House.” And Fox’s senior Trump-fluffer, Sean Hannity, complained bitterly for ten minutes about the lawsuit. He disparaged Acosta as “a far-left, grandstanding sycophant left-winger.” Trump was apparently watching, because he later used the “grandstanding” slur in an interview with Tucker Carlson’s rag, The Daily Caller. At no time did Hannity or the others stand up for the principles of freedom of the press.

This is representative of the two faces of Fox News. They like to pretend that they are a part of the journalistic community and committed to the constitutional provisions that protect the media. But their most watched personalities prefer the suppressive concepts favored by dictators who get to choose who cover them and what is permissible to say. And that’s also the position of the Trump White House that defended the President’s censorious punishment of Acosta in a statement that said:

“The President and White House possess the same broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists (and other members of the public) that they possess to select which journalists receive interviews.”

Actually, that isn’t the same thing at all. While Trump has been extremely selective with regard to interviews (the vast majority of which have been with Fox News), a press conference is an open event during which all attendees have equal access. And by selectively banning a reporter who asks tough questions, Trump is manipulating the coverage of his media avails to only those with whom he agrees, or believes he can overcome with bullying, filibustering, and lies. That is not how the Founding Fathers envisioned a free press. And Fox doesn’t get to be a “news” enterprise by issuing a statement in support of the First Amendment, while they put hacks on the air who advocate against it.

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

CNN Files Lawsuit Against Trump & Co. for Violation of the First Amendment

Last week Donald Trump’s administration was especially hostile to the press that they despise so fiercely. Trump addressed a post-election press conference and proceeded to insult several (mostly African-American women) journalists. As News Corpse noted at the time: “It was a disgraceful display of infantile tantrum throwing by our crybaby president who is too weak to face a group of reporters without breaking down into insults and bullying.”

Donald Trump, CNN

Shortly after that press conference, the White House announced that they were suspending the credentials of CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta. They fabricated a story alleging that he “placed his hands” on an intern as she tried to grab the microphone away from him. However, the video of the event proved unambiguously that the White House was lying, as usual. But that didn’t stop them from distributing a “doctored” version of the video that they got from the disreputable conspiracy crackpots at Infowars.

On Tuesday morning CNN announced that they are suing Trump and his band of totalitarian oppressors of free speech. The suit explicitly cites the constitutional breach of the First Amendment’s rights to freedom of the press and Fifth Amendment rights to due process. CNN’s statement reads:

“CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court. It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process. While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”

The lawsuit names several members of the administration who are complicit in the violation. They include Trump, his chief of staff John Kelly, his deputy chief of staff for communications (and former Fox News president) Bill Shine, and his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. It’s a confederacy of Republican Nationalists bent on subverting democracy and squelching free speech.

It would be surprising if this suit made it to court. Crybaby Trump will likely chicken out and restore Acosta’s credentials before that happens. But the damage is already done as this unlawful White House demonstrates that they couldn’t care less about America’s constitutional principles.

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

Fortunately, the next Congress plans to do something about that. Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has told reporters that he intends to hold hearings on Trump’s reckless assaults on the press which go way beyond mere name calling as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” It includes his use of the Justice Department to punish media organizations he doesn’t like. And because elections have consequences, he isn’t going to get away with it for much longer.

Sexual Predator Donald Trump Hypocritically Threatens NBC’s ‘License’ Over Weinstein Story

As his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is being grilled in the Senate, it appears that Donald Trump is striving mightily to shift attention back to himself. So naturally he’s emulating the totalitarian policies of censorship and oppression, especially with regard to the media, that he admires so much. He frequently refers to the press as “the enemy of the people,” a phrase lifted straight from Stalin era tyranny. And even after being schooled on the historical horrors of his reference, Trump persists in his flagrantly anti-constitutional harangues.

Donald Trump, Censorship

On Tuesday morning, during his regularly scheduled Twitter tirade, Trump took another swipe at the press in the most appalling terms. Beginning with his incessant repetition of his now tedious “fake news” rhetoric, Trump launches into a peculiar criticism of NBC News for their handling of Ronan Farrow’s groundbreaking expose of Harvey Weinstein:

To be sure, there were some problems with how the network dealt with the allegations Farrow unveiled. NBC’s brass did not seem to be especially supportive of his efforts. Farrow charges that they tried to prevent him from proceeding with his investigation. NBC, however, claims that they just didn’t think the story was sufficiently documented. But the network didn’t try to interfere with Farrow taking the story to another publisher. In fact, according to Farrow, they suggested it. Subsequently, Farrow’s story ignited the #MeToo movement that has brought accountability to dozens of cretinous characters in the media, business, and politics. And it isn’t over.

What makes this so unbelievable is the shocking obliviousness on Trump’s part to reignite the Weinstein scandal. Of all the people to traffic in the sewer of sexual harassment and assault, Trump would be at or near the bottom of the list. After all, there are still outstanding allegations of the most repugnant misconduct by Trump from at least sixteen women (see video below). These charges have never been properly investigated and Trump has not been held accountable, as others in public life have.

When the President of the United States is credibly charged with actual sex crimes, it ought to be addressed in the press, the Congress, and especially the courts. But Trump has been given a free pass for his assaultive acts. For him to raise the matter of similar behavior by others is an Olympic-grade feat of suppression of self-awareness and shame.

And to make matters worse, Trump adds to the remarkably amoral mindset that led to this tweet by using it as reason to punish NBC via what he calls a “Look at their license.” What exactly does he intend to look at? There is no government authority that grants licenses to news organizations permitting them to engage in journalism. In fact, the Constitution explicitly prohibits it. Perhaps Trump was aiming at the licenses of local broadcasters. But even Trump’s own FCC chief, Ajit Pai, rebuked Trump’s prior license revocation fantasies saying that “The FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content.”

So Trump is, once again, just mouthing off in total ignorance as he attempts to threaten the media and chill any effort to criticize him. That isn’t going to work any better now than it has worked in all of his previous attempts at censorship. It just certifies that he is a wannabe dictator who aspires to silence any dissenting voices, much the way his heroes, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un, have done in their countries, where free speech is a crime against the state. Consequently, Trump will have to be satisfied with his version of State TV, aka Fox News.

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

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.

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.

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.

Trump ‘Honored’ by Journalists’ Organization for ‘Undermining Global Press Freedom’

Many American presidents have had a contentious relationship with the press. At times it has become a bitter rivalry wherein the media was regarded as a troublesome annoyance that embraced deliberate biases. But most of the time there remained a deep-rooted respect for the freedom of the press and the crucial role it plays in a democracy.

Donald Trump Censorship

All of that changed when Donald Trump was inaugurated January 20, 2017. Trump has been more openly hostile to the media than any chief executive before him. His hatred is expressed bluntly with insults and accusations that exceed reasonable criticism. He calls out reporters by name as “sleazy,” liars,” and “horrible people.” On more than one occasion he has labeled the press as “the enemy of the American people.” That isn’t a critique, it’s a declaration of war.

Last week Trump announced that he would be hosting an event to commemorate “The Most Dishonest and Corrupt Media Awards of the Year.” It’s just the sort of shallow stunt to be expected from a former reality game show TV host. And Trump’s dimwitted predictability removes any sense of excitement the event might have had. Let’s face it, CNN, the New York Times, and the like will dominate his phony ceremony.

In anticipation of this dull affair, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has produced their own roster of honorees that they dubbed The Press Oppressors Awards:

“Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump’s announcement via Twitter about his planned “fake news” awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.”

The CPJ bestowed their awards on several world figures whose record of oppression and censorship was noteworthy for their severity and brutality. Not surprisingly, Trump was honored twice. The headline award that Trump snagged was for “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom.” The CPJ wrote that Trump:

“…has consistently undermined domestic news outlets and declined to publicly raise freedom of the press with repressive leaders such as Xi, Erdo?an, and Sisi. Authorities in China, Syria, and Russia have adopted Trump’s ‘fake news’ epithet, and Erdogan has applauded at least one of his verbal attacks on journalists. Under Trump’s administration, the Department of Justice has failed to commit to guidelines intended to protect journalists’ sources, and the State Department has proposed to cut funding for international organizations that help buttress international norms in support of free expression.”

Trump was also recognized as the runner up for “Most Thin-skinned.” Given his notorious narcissism and thirst for revenge, He must have been a fierce challenger for this award. The CPJ’s decision rested on Trump’s threat “to ‘open-up’ U.S. libel laws, sue news outlets, and subject their broadcast licenses to review.” And surely his posting of more than 1,000 tweets critical of the press contributed to his showing in this category.

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

The honorees for these awards are a sinister lot that includes. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, President Xi Jinping of China, and Trump’s BFF, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. That’s auspicious and foreboding company, but it accurately represents the tenor and the harm for which Trump’s presidency is responsible. And it’s a far more honest ceremonial observance than the one Trump is planning for next week (if he even bothers to follow through).

Donald Trump ‘Absolutely Believes in the First Amendment’ – And Won’t Rest Until It’s Dead

Okay, so it’s still only the first week of the new year. Nevertheless, the reigning champion of flagrant dishonesty, Donald Trump, is making a strong showing for Lie of the Year 2018. In 2017 PolitiFact “honored” him for his relentless insistence that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was a hoax. Trump stubbornly maintained that he believed Vladimir Putin’s denials more than the conclusions of every American intelligence agency that investigated the issue.

Donald Trump

And now the White House has made a declaration so absurd that it has jumped to the head of the pack for this new year of presidential lies. During the daily briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to comment on Trump’s regard for the First Amendment. She replied that:

“The President absolutely believes in the First Amendment. But as we’ve said before, the President also believes in making sure that information is accurate before pushing it out as fact when it certainly and clearly is not.”

Whenever one asserts their belief in a core constitutional principle, it’s bad form to follow it with “but…” And in this case the qualification is outright bizarre. To suggest that Trump gives a damn about “making sure that information is accurate” flies in the face of his lie-riddle Twitter feed. He has a deep rooted aversion to the truth and he proves it every day. What’s more, the Washington post has documented almost 2,000 lies Trump has told since his inauguration.

The specific lie featured here is especially egregious because Trump’s fealty to the First Amendment has always been a bad joke. After all, Trump has been attacking the free press since he launched his presidential campaign. He routinely refers to it in general terms as “fake news.” He has vilified reporters as “liars, sleazy,” and “horrible people.” And he famously called out the media in Stalinesque terms as “the enemy of the America people.”

The question that drew Sanders’ response was specifically about Trump’s reaction to the new book by Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury. He had his lawyers threatened to sue the author and his publisher. Included in the threat was a demand that strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. The letter warned that:

“Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the Book.”

So the President who “absolutely believes in the First Amendment” is attempting to force a journalist to halt publication of a book that is critical of the President. That is such an obvious contradiction in terms that it strains credulity. But it fits neatly into a pattern of oppressive behavior that is typical of Trump. There has never been a president who was more hostile to the First Amendment and those whose profession relies on it. The assertion that he believes in the First Amendment is nothing more than an acknowledgement that it exists. But he clearly regards it as an obstacle to his tyrannical aspirations and is doing everything he can to kill it.

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