Throughout Donald Trump’s campaign for president, and his subsequent residence in the White House, he has displayed a visceral hatred for the media. Virtually any story that was the least bit critical was branded as “fake news.”
Trump is especially sensitive to allegations stemming from his unsavory connections to Russia. The linkages between himself, his family, and his associates are plentiful and disturbing. And despite the confirmation of numerous meetings and investigations, Trump stubbornly denies any relationship. His belligerent denials are a rejection of reality and often attempt to shift blame elsewhere. For instance:
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
Thursday’s Senate hearing with James Comey briefly, but significantly, touched on this issue. The former FBI Director was asked specifically about Trump’s characterization of the Russian interference in the election. His answer was an unequivocal repudiation of Trump’s anti-media position:
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM): The President has repeatedly talked about Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election cycle as a “hoax” and as “fake news.” Can you talk a little bit about what you saw as FBI Director that demonstrates how serious this action actually was, and why there was an investigation in the first place?
James Comey: There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. And they did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community. And the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It’s not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.
What Comey is referring to is the overwhelming agreement that Russia actively interfered with the election. Seventeen separate intelligence agencies, from the State Department to the Pentagon, all independently affirm that. In fact, the only official resistance comes from the White House itself.
Having no credible argument to refute the consensus about Russia’s activities, Trump resorts to smearing the media. It’s a weak line of attack based entirely on his personal animus and driven by desperation and fear. But it’s also dangerous. Trump is purposefully denigrating an institution that is vital to the stability of a healthy democracy. He is attacking the very nature of the free press. And it is his intention to undermine the public’s confidence in all news providers. That is among the reasons that advocates for journalists branded Trump as “an ‘unprecedented threat’ to press freedom.”
Comey’s testimony reiterates what many have said before him. And it is a potent indictment of Trump’s irresponsible and reckless media bashing. And yet, the predictable result of his remarks will be an escalation by Trump of his assaults on the press. Hopefully the press will have the courage to defend their own honor and not let Trump get away with his self-serving campaign to destroy ethical journalism.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.