When third world dictators find themselves getting squeezed by opposition from enemies, foreign or domestic, they have a common response. It generally involves narrowing their exposure to any criticism or events that might produce negative results. They begin to purge those they fear could be disloyal, they tighten their grip on the media, and they hide behind a wall of propaganda and sycophantic shills.
Sound familiar? That’s precisely what Donald Trump has been doing for several months. Top administration officials like Jeff Sessions, Jim Mattis, and John Kelly have been humiliated by public terminations. Meanwhile, Trump has surrounded himself with former Fox News figures like Bill Shine, John Bolton, and Heather Nauert. And now the President has publicly declared that he ordered his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to stop giving press briefings because he doesn’t like the questions:
The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the “podium” much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019
What Trump considers rudeness is actually just any inquiry that seeks the truth about his actions and statements. Never mind that it is the responsibility of journalists to ask probing questions of any president. This one believes that the media’s job is to flatter him and applaud everything he does. That’s why the vast majority of his interviews are given to Fox News, where he can rely on velvet glove treatment.
Trump doesn’t bother to identify any of the reporting that he’s asserting is inaccurate. He just swings wildly and hopes that his accusations take hold. As far his stable of Deplorable cult followers is concerned, he need not worry. They will believe whatever he tells them to believe. But according to every poll on the subject, most Americans trust the media far more than they do Trump.
Trump justifies cutting off access to the press because he believes that his message will get out anyway. He has great confidence that his Twitter feed will serve as a substitute to the free press that America’s democracy was built upon. And he’s certain that by shunning the media there won’t be any negative stories about him. The only problem with his logic is that it is completely illogical and utterly insane. The press will still conduct investigations and publish stories based on the facts they uncover. And Trump’s evasion just makes him look more frightened and guilty.
In addition to his directive to quit White House press briefings, Trump is now considering a peculiar alternative to the traditional State of the Union address. He’s been forced into this position because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told him that having the address in the Capitol during the Trump Shutdown would be problematic due to security concerns. So Trump is now preparing two different speeches. One traditional version in the event that government is reopened and the Capitol is available. And one to be delivered outside of Washington, perhaps at a rally.
However, this presents a whole new set of problems. If Trump gives the State of the Union speech at one of his cult rallies, it should not be covered by the press because it would be a political event, not official government business. His rallies are only open to his devoted disciples, and not to the general public. The access by the press is tightly controlled by Trump’s campaign committee. Such an event must not be considered a real State of the Union, but instead, a partisan affair for his reelection. That’s how the media should treat it. They should cover only those portions that are actually newsworthy. And judging by the more than forty rallies Trump staged last year, that would mean not covering it at all.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The press recently got played by the Trump regime when it asked for primetime TV access to deliver an address to the nation. But it was just a rehash of his past lies and self-serving talking points to persuade people that his idiotic vanity wall should be funded and built. It didn’t fool the American people. And the press should not allow itself to be fooled again.