On the first Monday since the tragic slaughter of at least twenty-nine innocent people (and dozens more wounded) in another weekend of gun violence, Donald Trump made an address to the nation that offered some prayers and consolation, but continued to avoid the real causes of these horrors, or any practical solutions. It was another meaningless exercise in platitudes and propaganda.
In the ten minute TelePrompter speech, Trump was typically devoid of compassion or anything that might be recognized as human empathy. However, he did manage to shift blame for the massacres to everything from video games to mental health, and – in a spectacular departure from rationality – to immigration. That last excuse was simply his insertion of a “poison pill” to kill any congressional solution to the problem of mass shootings.
There were a few morsels of routine speechifying thrown into the address. Such as Trump’s call for a unified front against hate, saying that “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy.” That was a good start, but he was still too chicken to identify white nationalist terrorism as a prime factor in these horrible crimes. Even though the FBI did so recently. Trump also spoke to another of his deflections, and defenses of the NRA, saying that “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.” Actually, it’s people who pull the triggers of guns they should never have been able to possess.
But perhaps the most troubling remarks from the President came by way of Twitter, where he posted yet another dangerous, anti-Constitutional attack on the free press:
The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2019
Trump is blatantly and pathetically trying to shift blame for the “anger and rage” that he himself incites. He’s essentially threatening the press to be more flattering toward him or more innocent people will die. It’s a play aimed at gaining authoritarian control of the media so that he can use it to exalt himself. You know, like Fox News.
But let’s be clear: What Trump is really whining about is that the media reports what he actually says and does. To the extent that their reporting results in anger and rage, it’s because Trump’s incompetence, hostility, and criminality, are impossible to react to in any other way. Unless, that is, one is blinded by cult worship and infected with Trumpism.
After all, the media didn’t call Mexicans rapists; tell elected representatives of color to “go back” where they came from; malign African nations as “shithole countries”; joke about shooting migrants; offer to pay the legal fees of rally goers who assaulted protesters; portray refugees as invaders; praise neo-Nazis as “fine people”; or retweet well known white supremacists. And let’s not forget that it wasn’t the media that colluded with Russia to steal a presidential election or obstruct justice to cover up those crimes.
It’s notable that Trump’s disingenuous plea for unity and political bipartisanship occurs just a week after he tweeted a meme declaring that “Democrats are “the true enemy of the people.” That’s a reprehensible charge that he has been making about the media for years. Also within the past week, Trump announced that he was directing his Justice Department to explore declaring Antifa a terrorist group. Never mind that he has never proposed that for the white nationalists who, unlike the shadowy, disassociated anti-fascists, are well organized and responsible for murdering innocent people.
Trump’s speech was littered with falsehoods. Even worse, there were indicators of mental infirmity that should frighten every American. For instance, despite reading from a TelePrompter, he asked for God’s blessings for “those who perished in Toledo” (it was Dayton). That’s reminiscent of the consolation he offered last year to the fire-ravaged victims of Pleasure, California (it was Paradise, CA). He apparently has trouble remembering the names of the places he’s supposed to be consoling in real time.
However, there is one thing that Trump actually got right in his speech when he said that “Hate warps the mind, devours the heart, and ravages the soul.” And, ironically, he will forever serve as a powerful and cautionary example of the truth of that statement.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.