Trump is Threatening to Punish Former Obama Officials for Exercising Their Free Speech Rights

The president who has been the most hostile to the First Amendment of any president in history is accelerating his attack on the Constitution. Donald Trump’s latest threats toward his critics should frighten all Americans, not just those unlucky enough to be in his crosshairs at the moment. And he’s doing it for the most flagrantly political reasons.

Donald Trump Censorship

At the White House press briefing Monday morning (only the third one in July so far), Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to a question about Sen. Rand Paul’s request that Trump revoke the security credentials of former CIA director, John Brennan. Paul alleged, without proof, that Brennan was “monetizing his security clearance” and “divulging secrets to the mainstream media.” Sanders replied with a prepared statement that went even further (video below):

“Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the security clearances of Comey, Clapper, Rice, Hayden, and McCabe.”

Note that these all are national security professionals who served at least part of their tenures in the Obama administration. Note also that they have been outspoken critics of the President. There has been no discussion of revoking security clearances for Sean Spicer, Rex Tillerson, or Reince Priebus (if they ever had any). Sanders continued reading her statement:

“The President is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they politicized, and in some cases monetized, their public service and in some cases security clearance making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia, or being influenced by Russia against the President is extremely inappropriate. And the fact that people with security clearances are making the baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

No one has politicized and monetized their public service more than Donald Trump. He uses his Twitter account to post brazenly partisan political messages including defenses of his collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice. Furthermore, he posts his robo-endorsements of Republican candidates for Congress. He also promotes his visits to his golf resorts and other properties he owns where he profits from both government expenditures and private reservations from corporations and foreign dignitaries seeking to influence American policies.

The activities of the people Trump is threatening are standard expressions of opinion in the media by experts with the experience to comment intelligently. They are granted the right to have and express their opinions by the Constitution. And by having done so, they have now become the targets of Trump’s infantile and un-American wrath. It should be noted that in no case have any of these people disclosed any confidential information. The assertion that what they have said is “false” is just the unsupported opinion of Trump and his lackeys. But it wouldn’t matter if it is false. There is no prohibition on expressing a false opinion. If there were Fox News would be out of business. And Trump as well, for that matter.

Trump’s rabid aversion to free speech is well established. He repeatedly refers to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” And just this morning he rattled off a couple of tweets castigating the Washington Post for some peculiar and unexplained anti-trust violations. In fact, he’s only attacking them because he perceives them as critics. Which makes the assault an unambiguous breach of the First Amendment.

If Trump follows through on these threats, it would be an obvious attempt to silence his critics. And it would only add to the high crimes and misdemeanors that he is already guilty of, and that warrant his immediate impeachment and removal from office. As if his treasonous collusion with Russia, his obstruction of justice, his financial corruption, and his sexually predatory assaults on women weren’t enough.

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

BURN! Fox News Accidentally Interviews a Candidate Who Tells the Truth About (and to) Trump

Monday morning on Fox News there was a devastating outbreak of the sort of truth that the network strives so hard to suppress. All of their evil efforts went up in smoke after a booking glitch put a conscientious Democratic candidate on the air instead of their customary crackpots and shills. It was delicious.

Fox News Bozo

On Fox and Friends First co-hosts Jillian Mele and Rob Schmitt introduced Ann Kirkpatrick, someone they thought was a pro-ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Democrat that got booed at a candidate forum in Massachusetts. Their intent was to stir up phony dissension within the Democratic Party. That’s a common tactic used by Fox News to falsely infer a party in disarray. They have a bevy of so-called Democrats they can call on to bash the Party.

However, this time someone at Fox screwed up. The guest that appeared on air was not who they thought it was. It turned out to be Barbara L’Italien, a different candidate with an entirely different point of view. She began straight out of the gate with a message for Donald Trump (video below):

Mele: Joining us the candidate, the only democrat on stage to support ICE, Ann Kirkpatrick. Tell us why you do support ICE?
L’Italien: Good morning. I’m actually here to speak directly to Donald Trump. I feel that what’s happening at the border is wrong. I’m a mother of four and I believe that separating kids from their parents is illegal and inhumane. I’m state senator representing a large immigrant community and running for Congress in Massachusetts.

I keep thinking about what we are putting parents through and imagining how terrifying that must be for those families, imagining how it would feel not knowing if I’d ever see my kids again, we have to stop abducting children and ripping them from their parents’ arms. Stop putting kids in cages, stop making 3-year-olds defend themselves in court.

The co-hosts immediately looked confused and struggled to counter L’Italien’s truth with pre-chewed Fox News lies. Schmitt said that the practice of separating and caging children had been stopped. It hasn’t. Then Mele said incorrectly that the kids have been reunited with their families. Only about 500 out of nearly 3,000. That was followed by an awkward exchange wherein the co-hosts wondered “Who is this?” And after cutting the feed to L’Italien, they mused that “That didn’t go as planned. That happens sometimes. Time for a break? Yeah.”

A statement was later released by Desiree Dunne, the executive producer of Fox and Friends First. She tried to explain how the segment got so badly mangled, but failed to miserably. And then she sought to blame L’Italien:

“This morning we invited Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick to appear on Fox & Friends First through her press contact on file […] During the actual segment, Barbara L’Italien, appeared on camera instead of Kirkpatrick. Despite speaking to producers prior to the interview, L’Italien did not identify herself as anything other than Kirkpatrick until she was live on air, at which point we ended the interview.”

Note that Dunne doesn’t say that the producers ever asked L’Italien to identify herself. L’Italien told ThinkProgress that she was merely taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity to communicate with Trump and Fox viewers. She also said that:

“This would not have happened to an actual news station. Fox’s lack of attention to the facts normally is a disaster for the country, it just so happened that today it was embarrassing for them.”

Ann Kirkpatrick also had some harsh words for Fox News, saying that they “put out false reports on my position on ICE, without a single word from me.” So she doesn’t seem particularly disturbed by having been axed from the network’s propaganda programming. But even when the mistake was discovered, why would Fox need to end the interview? Why couldn’t they just continue talking to a candidate with a different perspective?

The answer to that question is obvious. fox News doesn’t tolerate different perspectives in circumstances they aren’t in complete control of. L’Italien was expressing a viewpoint that is shared by a majority of Americans. But since it is contrary to the Trump administration’s viewpoint, and that of the Republican Party, it could not be allowed on their air. But unfortunately for Fox, that happens sometimes.

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