The media is pouncing on Donald Trump today for his blatantly false claims to have seen “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrating the fall of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. What he says he personally witnessed never actually happened and PolitiFact, among other fact checkers, rated it a “Pants on Fire“ lie. He is also taking heat for re-tweeting a racist graphic of homicide statistics that were completely made up (probably by a neo-Nazi). And then there’s the episode at his rally where he encouraged his supporters to beat up a protester, later saying that he deserved it.
However, there was another newsmaking event that took place that isn’t getting much play from the media. Trump’s bullying of the press has devolved into severely oppressive tactics that reflect his tyrannical tendencies. He and his campaign aides have taken steps to punish, muzzle, and otherwise suppress the First Amendment rights of the reporters covering his campaign. It has gotten so bad that media organizations that normally compete with one another are meeting to discuss the matter and to formulate a response. The Washington Post reports that…
“According to people at multiple networks, senior managers from the five leading TV news networks — ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox and NBC News — will discuss their response in an effort to push back against what they deem harsh and restrictive behavior by Trump’s managers, including his top aide, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.”
The abuses being suffered by the press include the Trump campaign threatening to pull the press credentials of reporters who dare to leave the “pen” provided for them by Trump’s handlers. His people even explicitly threaten to “blacklist” disobedient reporters. By disobedient they mean those who seek to interview people attending Trump’s events or to cover protests. In other words, those who are doing their jobs as reporters. In one case Lewandowski told another campaign staffer “Hey: Tell Noah [Gray of CNN], get back in the pen or he’s f—ing blacklisted.” WaPo further reported that…
“The campaign has also declined to give credentials to reporters from news organizations it has deemed unfriendly. The list includes BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision and the Des Moines Register.”
This is unprecedented in a democracy that reveres freedom of the press. But worse, it is a preview of the sort of ham-handed censorship that a wannabe dictator like Trump would employ were he to hold any position of power. It has to have gotten pretty bad for competing media enterprises to come together in search of a solution. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the press to challenge Trump. They are more interested in the potential ratings they think he will draw than in their journalistic integrity.
It’s fascinating that his supporters, ostensibly conservatives who claim to favor small government and personal freedom, are still drawn to this budding despot who seeks absolute power and is proposing growing government in the most intrusive way: more federal agents to monitor churches, more security forces on the border, more surveillance of citizens and registries to track them. And his supporters are the same people who were so rapt with an irrational fear of President Obama’s imaginary “czars.”
In a separate example of the intransigent totalitarianism of Donald Trump, he is holding the Republican Party hostage with threats to bolt and run as an independent if they don’t squelch a growing contingent of critics who are uniting to produce and distribute anti-Trump ads. [This isn’t the first time he has threatened to break his pledge of party loyalty]. It’s called politics and every politician is aware of how it works. But for Trump, the notion that His Majesty would be the target of an attack is unthinkable. Reuters reports that…
“Donald Trump’s presidential campaign warned the Republican Party on Tuesday about donors pooling funds for attack ads, saying Republicans must treat him fairly if they want to keep him from launching an independent bid.
“Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told CNN that if Republican donors backing different presidential candidates come together for an anti-Trump advertising campaign, it would be a ‘bad, bad decision.’ […] ‘If they treat him fairly, he will honor the pledge because he’s an honorable guy. If they break that agreement with him, as they say ‘woe be on them,’ Cohen told CNN.”
“Woe be on them?” Trump is literally going Medieval on the RNC. Of course, the Republican Party has no control over Super PACs that are independent and free to pursue their own political missions. In Trump’s mind there is an overarching authority on whom he can force his will under threat of annihilation to any peasant who dares to defy his omnipotence.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The question is, will the RNC capitulate to Trump and forever be his bitch? Will the media surrender and allow Trump to dictate the terms of their coverage? Trump is an aspiring tyrant and the time to squash his power-mad dreams is now. Unfortunately, his party and the press may be too impotent to stand up for their own interests, and for those of democracy and America. If they had any integrity or guts the RNC would tell him to stop whining, honor his pledge, or take a flying leap, and the press would tell him go to hell and then cover him the way they would any other candidate. As it looks now, they are just preparing to embarrass themselves and let an ignorant, loudmouth, with delusions of grandeur run all over them.