Donald Trump was visiting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Friday when he obliged the media by taking a few question to which he would respond with his customary obfuscation and lies. But in the process he employed one of his familiar tactics of demeaning the press even as he pretends to be accommodating them.
Just as Jim Acosta of CNN began to ask a question, Trump interrupted him him saying “No.” and pointing to John Roberts of Fox News. Acosta was not immediately convinced that his opportunity to question the President was over. But Trump made it even more clear saying “CNN is fake news, I don’t take questions from CNN. John Roberts of Fox, let’s go to a real network.”
"CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN. John Roberts from Fox. Let's go to a real network." pic.twitter.com/e2TcEu6G7e
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 13, 2018
Roberts had an opportunity to stand up for the integrity and honor of his profession. But instead, he chose to ignore Trump’s malice toward the press and ask if Trump hopes to have a better relationship with Vladimir Putin. That question was a fairly obsequious waste of time that would provide no insight to any current affairs. However, it did successfully help Trump to throw another sucker punch at the media that he despises. And at the same time Trump got to promote the one network that has so obediently acted as his State TV affiliate of the White House.
By maligning the media this way on foreign soil, Trump is ensuring that other foreign dictators will feel encouraged to continue their own crusades against the press, which often include suppression and murder. Trump’s friend Vladimir can attest to that. It’s bad enough when Trump calls the media “the enemy of the American people” during one of his revival meeting style campaign rallies in South Dakota. But to export that hostile rhetoric to other countries only makes his animus toward the free press more dangerous for journalists throughout the world.
Roberts was castigated online by many of his peers for allowing Trump to insult Acosta and just going forward with his own lame question. As a result, he later appeared in a segment on Fox where he finally mustered up the courage to defend CNN, NBC, and his profession:
Fox News corespondent John Roberts defended networks CNN and NBC after the president insulted them at a press conference.
"They have fine journalists there who risk their lives to cover the news around the world, [and] to say they are not a real network [is] unfair," he said. pic.twitter.com/VuRjmP5YMW
— POLITICO (@politico) July 13, 2018
That would have been a great thing to say when Trump lashed out at Acosta. As it is, it was too little. too late. Especially considering the fact that it isn’t just Trump who is dispensing these attacks. It is also many of Roberts’ colleagues on Fox News. It’s Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy and Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, and few dozen other contributors who make regular appearances. Not to mention most of the GOP caucus in Congress.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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For Roberts to be taken seriously he would have to call out all of those offenders. He would have to acknowledge that the cries of fake news, dishonesty, and unfairness are just as harmful and inappropriate when they come from a Fox News host as when the come from a desperately lying president. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Roberts, or anyone else at Fox, to be so consistent and honorable. Their mission is the same as it ever was: to defend Dear Leader Trump and to malign his critics. Expect that to continue unabated.