Bunker Mentality: A Fearful Trump Orders Press Secretary ‘Not to Bother’ with Press Briefings

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.

Donald Trump

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:

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.

Sunday’s Trump Tweetstorm Calls First Amendment Illegal, ‘Should Be Tested in Courts’

If it’s Sunday, this Donald Trump’s regularly scheduled Twitter tantrum. Like clockwork, the President is firing off nearly incoherent messages that attack his critics, lie about easily verified matters, and promote his favorite source of propaganda, and the PR division of the Trump White House, Fox News. It’s a display of desperation that only serves to make him appear more guilty and afraid of the coming consequences of his criminal acts.

Donald Trump

Leading off Trump’s parade of polemics is a tweet that reinforces Trump’s long-held aversion to free speech and the First Amendment of the Constitution. We are all familiar with Trump’s denouncement of the press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” and his projectile vomiting of invectives at journalists who have the audacity to report what he actually does and says. And now we have Trump literally threatening to legally censor the media for doing its job:

Does Trump really think that Saturday Night Live is a news program that can be put alongside NBC News as a provider of coverage of his administration? Apparently any media entity that fails to kiss up to the Snowflake-in-Chief is subject to his hostile harangues. But this tweet goes even further to demand that the press be constrained by some legal authority to prostrate itself to what he believes is fair. Every president has had to undergo criticism from both journalists and satirists, but Trump’s skin is way to thin to take it. That’s common for cowards and tyrants who feel the need to control society and suppress those who don’t sufficiently worship Dear Leader.

The rest of Trump’s morning meltdown was equally disturbing. He babbled nonsensically about text messages by former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. His rant was lifted from the ultra-rightist webzine The Federalist, which failed to understand the agency’s report regarding the disposition of those texts:

Trump agreed with the Federalist’s phony assertions that the messages were deleted and lost. They weren’t. The agency recovered and preserved them after a temporary tech glitch. But this triggered his knee-jerk outcry of “Witch Hunt” which he continued in another tweet:

What Trump calls “breaking in” is more commonly referred to as the accumulation of evidence by law enforcement. And the subject of the investigation, Trump’s lawyer, complimented the FBI as “extremely professional, courteous and respectful,” and later pleaded guilty to the charges against him. What’s more, Cohen unambiguously fingered Trump as being the facilitator of the crimes in his case. That’s surely what Trump is really mad about.

As for the bit about Hillary Clinton’s server, she voluntarily gave the FBI a complete copy of it, so they had no need to take physical possession. But having no legal ground to stand on, Trump resorted to dredging up old stories about his nemesis, President Obama.

Trump is falsely claiming that Obama’s immigration policies were “far worse” than what the Trump administration has done by grotesquely seperating children from their parents (which he’s still doing, and even justifying it). That’s demonstrably untrue. It was only Trump’s policy to charge every asylum seeker with felonies that resulted in the separations. And if that obvious attempt at misdirection wasn’t sufficient to deflect attention from his problems, Trump also tried this one:

Really? Ken Starr? He headed up the persecution of the Clintons twenty years ago, and after finding no evidence of any crime, started to dig into Bill Clinton’s sex life. He’s hardly a credible source for anything having to do with Trump’s criminal behavior. And naturally, Trump saw Starr’s comments while watching Fox News.

This frantic outburst on Twitter is just the latest example of a mind that is utterly warped by the trepidation of being caught having committed a historic crime spree. And in utter distress due to the gloomy fate that awaits him, Trump is lashing out like the wounded vermin that he is. And while every untrue utterance he made is bad enough for the nation to be worried about his mental degradation, his calls to punish the press are the most troubling.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump is acting out the behavior of a fallen dictator desperately trying to hang on to whatever power he has left. But with the walls of justice closing in around him, he has nowhere to hide. A recent report notes that every entity that he has headed – the Trump Org, Trump Foundation, Trump campaign, Trump transition team, Trump inaugural committee, and the Trump White House – are under investigation. When he does go down, he’s going to go down hard.

LATE BREAKING: Trump must not be very busy presidenting today because he posted four more tweets this afternoon (so far).

One was a demand to watch a Fox News interview of conspiracy crackpot Jerome Corsi.

Then two more (here and here), also triggered by Fox News, were about former Trump advisor, and confessed felon, Michael Flynn being “persecuted” by Robert Mueller. Of particular note was Trump saying that Jeff Sessions “should be ashamed of himself” for allowing the “HOAX” to get started. So should Trump’s new Acting AG Whitaker also be ashamed for not stopping it?

And finally, Trump added a tweet that was just boilerplate “Witch Hunt” bashing and denying his collusion. You know, like all innocent people do obsessively.

Trump Justifies the Khashoggi Murder Because Saudi Arabia Said He is an ‘Enemy of the State’

In Donald Trump’s statement in support of Saudi Arabia, he began with his nationalist-inspired slogan of “America First!” Then he launched into a tangentially related rant about Iran, Yemen, Syria, and Israel. All of this to support his childish contention that “The world is a very dangerous place!” But in the process he fails to recognize that his actions are making it considerably more dangerous.

Donald Trump

What Trump’s statement has done is to grant approval to the most brutal regimes in the world to assassinate their political opponents free from worry about accountability or repercussions from the Trump White House. All they have to do is promise to buy some military gear and invest in Trump’s businesses and they can commit vile acts with impunity.

Trump said so in so many words by alluding to a $450 billion arms deal that most analysts determined doesn’t exist when he claimed it was for $110 billion. He said that it will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth.” But there is no evidence that any of that is true. Trump, nevertheless, makes the case that the United States is somehow dependent on Saudi Arabia rather than the other way around. It’s a case for American weakness.

However, perhaps the most nauseating paragraph that Trump has ever published is this one wherein he actually insults the murdered journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and excuses the Saudis for killing him. Trump implies that it is justifiable to assassinate a government critic if he is a journalist, because he is, therefore, an “enemy of the state.” Is Trump projecting what he wishes he could do? He said that:

“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

By using the phrase that Trump made familiar in his attacks on America’s free press –“enemy of the state.” – he is expanding his view that the media are not only dangerous, but expendable, to an international audience who will use it to justify more political slayings. Trump is also taking the word of Prince Salman that he didn’t have anything to do with the murder, even though the CIA has definitively concluded that he personally ordered it.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Finally, Trump went on to say that “we may never know all of the facts.” Which is an insult to our intelligence agencies and their ability to conduct an investigation. Trump praises the Saudis as “a great ally” with whom he “intends to remain a steadfast partner,” and he concludes the statement the same way he began by chanting “America First!” By which he apparently means that whatever Trump thinks is in his own best interest takes priority over America’s values – or human decency.

CNN Files Lawsuit Against Trump & Co. for Violation of the First Amendment

Last week Donald Trump’s administration was especially hostile to the press that they despise so fiercely. Trump addressed a post-election press conference and proceeded to insult several (mostly African-American women) journalists. As News Corpse noted at the time: “It was a disgraceful display of infantile tantrum throwing by our crybaby president who is too weak to face a group of reporters without breaking down into insults and bullying.”

Donald Trump, CNN

Shortly after that press conference, the White House announced that they were suspending the credentials of CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta. They fabricated a story alleging that he “placed his hands” on an intern as she tried to grab the microphone away from him. However, the video of the event proved unambiguously that the White House was lying, as usual. But that didn’t stop them from distributing a “doctored” version of the video that they got from the disreputable conspiracy crackpots at Infowars.

On Tuesday morning CNN announced that they are suing Trump and his band of totalitarian oppressors of free speech. The suit explicitly cites the constitutional breach of the First Amendment’s rights to freedom of the press and Fifth Amendment rights to due process. CNN’s statement reads:

“CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court. It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process. While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone. If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials.”

The lawsuit names several members of the administration who are complicit in the violation. They include Trump, his chief of staff John Kelly, his deputy chief of staff for communications (and former Fox News president) Bill Shine, and his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. It’s a confederacy of Republican Nationalists bent on subverting democracy and squelching free speech.

It would be surprising if this suit made it to court. Crybaby Trump will likely chicken out and restore Acosta’s credentials before that happens. But the damage is already done as this unlawful White House demonstrates that they couldn’t care less about America’s constitutional principles.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Fortunately, the next Congress plans to do something about that. Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has told reporters that he intends to hold hearings on Trump’s reckless assaults on the press which go way beyond mere name calling as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” It includes his use of the Justice Department to punish media organizations he doesn’t like. And because elections have consequences, he isn’t going to get away with it for much longer.

Trump Suffers Brutal Senate Rebuke for Attacking the Free Press as ‘the Enemy of the People’

On Thursday there was a coordinated effort on the part of more than 350 independent newspapers to strike back at Donald Trump’s relentless and dangerous assault on the media. And it’s about time. As noted by one of the organizers, the Boston Globe, “This whole project is not anti-Trump. It’s really pro-press.”

Donald Trump

Naturally, Trump took time from his golf game to post tweets (three actually) criticising this overdue measure of self-defense and support for the First Amendment. Once again he demeaned the press by calling them the “opposition party.” Actually, that’s true. They are opposed to much of what Trump stands for: lying, corruption, racism, misogyny, and treason. And Trump’s GOP is defending all of those traits in this perverted White House.

Also on Thursday, the Senate passed by unanimous voice vote a resolution offered by Sens. Brian Schatz and Chuck Schumer. The resolution is focused directly at “affirming Congress’ support of the First Amendment and condemning attacks on the free press, which undermine the credibility of journalists and the press as a national institution.” What follows are some of the more pertinent passages from the text of the resolution:

Whereas the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects the press from government control and suppression;

Whereas the freedom of the press—

  1. has been recognized as integral to the democratic foundations of the United States since the beginning of the United States; and< /li>
  2. has endured and been reaffirmed repeatedly throughout the history of the United States;

[…]

Whereas tyrannical and authoritarian governments and leaders throughout history have sought to undermine, censor, suppress, and control the press to advance their undemocratic goals and actions; and

Whereas the United States, including its long-held commitment to and constitutional protection of the free press, has stood as a shining example of democracy, self-government, and freedom for the world to emulate: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that:

The Senate –

  • affirms that the press is not the enemy of the people;
  • reaffirms the vital and indispensable role the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance our most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms; and
  • condemns attacks on the institution of the free press and views efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as a whole as an attack on our democratic institutions.

It is the sense of the Senate that it is the sworn responsibility of all who serve the United States by taking the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States to uphold, cherish, and protect the entire Constitution, including the freedom of the press.

The fact that a resolution like this even needs to be brought up is a sad statement on the status of the United States government, and particularly the White House under Donald Trump. And its language is unambiguously aimed at Trump himself with the inclusion of the affirmation that “the press is not the enemy of the people.” Moreover, having been passed without any objections in a body controlled by Republicans is an indication that the GOP may finally be sick and tired of some of Trump’s overtly un-American tendencies.

Now if only they would see fit to challenge the President on matters like his punitive and intimidating revocation of security clearances for former intelligence officials; his assaults on the Justice Department and those conducting investigations on him; his reliance on Fox News instead of experienced national security professionals; and his predilection for lying and resorting to infantile name-calling.

And maybe, just maybe, the Congress might hold actual hearings to get to the bottom of his conspiracies with Russia and obstruction of justice. It’s their sworn duty to act as a check and balance, to hold the President accountable for misdeeds, and to offer solutions that will prevent similar problems in the future with rogue leaders and foreign attacks on America’s democracy. Is that asking too much?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump Says He Believes in the Free Press – That He Says is ‘The Enemy of the American People’

On Thursday Donald Trump participated in a press avail with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Reporters asked him about how he was preparing for the (allegedly) upcoming summit meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump replied “I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude.” That, besides being a frightening glimpse into Trump’s diseased mindset, is typical of his notorious aversion to learning anything or knowing what the fudge he’s talking about. A responsible leader would study vigorously for weeks prior to a meeting as important as the one with Kim.

Donald Trump

On Friday Trump took a few minutes to answer some questions on his way the G7 meeting in Canada. When reporters sought to confirm his troubling statement about preparation, Trump lied and said that he never said it. He then went on to say that his unedited remarks specified that he had been preparing his whole life for this meeting. However, he didn’t say anything of the kind. And even if he had, that would only exacerbate the idiocy of his thinking. You can’t prepare for a specific diplomatic encounter with a lifetime of greed, lust, and ego gratification. Clearly he had not been preparing for such a meeting his whole life. Trump’s life could only be considered preparation for becoming a dishonest, morally and financially bankrupt, reality TV game show host and treasonous tool of America’s enemies.

In refuting the accurate reports of his inability and contempt for preparation, Trump once again blamed the whole thing on “fake news.” Which makes what he said immediately after all the more ironic. The subject had segued to leakers in government. So Trump wanted to make sure that everyone knew about his commitment to the free press. He said that:

“I believe strongly in freedom of press. I’m a big, big believer in freedom of press. But I’m also a believer in classified information.”

The evidence of Trump’s belief in freedom of the press is somewhere between thin and nonexistent. This is the president who has repeatedly referred to the press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the American people.” And his insistence on adding the prefix “fake” whenever he refers to the news is a deliberate attempt to discredit all of the media, as well as the Constitution that protects it. His all too obvious purpose is to lay a foundation of distrust so that he can dismiss any reporting that is critical of him. He has literally called for the jailing of reporters and for prohibiting media sources he doesn’t like from covering him. That’s his idea of a strong belief in freedom of the press.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump is going to cut his G7 visit short because he’s too scared of spending time with the American allies he’s alienated. And since his pal Vladimir Putin won’t be there, it couldn’t be much fun for him. Trump said that Russia should be readmitted to the G7. But why would that be necessary since he is there to do whatever Putin would want? Then he’s off to hang out with Kim in Singapore, where his life of preparation will likely result in him giving Hawaii to North Korea. And if he gets his way, there will be no media there (except for Fox News) to report it.

Trump Threatens to ‘Take Away Credentials’ of Media that Doesn’t Slobber Him with Praise

Reporters Without Borders publishes an annual World Press Freedom Index. The most recent study reported that the United States fell to 45th place, a new low. Much of that decline was attributed explicitly to Donald Trump, whose open hostility to the media has been a core component of his presidency.

Donald Trump

Continuing to push forward with his aggressively anti-First Amendment agenda, Trump took to his official presidential policy platform – Twitter – and posted a comment that is a further demonstration of just how extreme his hatred of the free press is. This tweet should frighten all Americans who value constitutional principles and the indispensable role the press plays in democracy:

There is so much wrong with that tweet that it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, the economy has been expanding for nearly ten years, and that expansion began near the beginning of President Obama’s first term. Contrary to Trump’s claim, for which he provides no factual support, the economy has largely stalled as of late. The Dow Jones is down year-to-date. And Trump has been undeservedly taking credit for an economy whose performance has trailed that of Obama’s.

Secondly, Trump is actually admitting that, in his view, any media that is negative is therefore fake. It isn’t surprising to learn that he feels that way, but it’s a little surprising that he says so publicly.

Third, Trump’s reference to network news being ninety-one percent negative about him was likely taken from Sean Hannity’s program last night. Hannity reported that statistic based on a dubious study by the ultra-rightist media watchdogs at NewsBusters. And he wrapped the biased data in the same package as Trump, fretting about his negative coverage despite the utopia he’s supposedly presiding over. This is another example of Hannity serving as a close advisor to this fumbling president (video below):

Hannity: “President Trump’s poll numbers, they’re rising. This despite a Newsbusters study showed that newtwork news broadcasts in this country featured negative stories about the President 90% of the time. Wow. And I told you journalism is dead.”

Notice the similarities between Hannity’s commentary and Trump’s tweet. But the most troubling part of Trump’s tweet is his threat to revoke press credentials for any media that fails to exalt the Dear Leader. Trump has long pined for a submissive press corps that only celebrates his every word and deed. This isn’t the first (or twentieth) time that Trump has attempted to punish the press by banishing them from the White House or worse, challenge their licenses. Last October he explicitly tweeted that threat saying:

The fact that Trump repeatedly takes this censorious position is evidence that it isn’t just an offhand remark that he doesn’t mean literally. He is deadly serious about his intention to gag any media that dares to criticize him. And in advance of that he has been avoiding any independent media for most of the last year. He’s only held one solo news conference (February 2017, just after the inauguration) during his entire presidency. And he hasn’t given an interview to a non-friendly (i.e. Fox News) outlet in the past year. What’s he afraid of?

The World Press Freedom study noticed these disturbing trends for American journalism. They addressed them specifically in their report as reasons for downgrading the U.S. position:

“In 2017, the 45th President of the United States helped sink the country to 45th place by labeling the press an ‘enemy of the American people’ in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempts to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routine use of the term ‘fake news’ in retaliation for critical reporting, and calling for media outlets’ broadcasting licenses to be revoked.”

The American people need to be alert with regard to the threat that Trump represents to the freedom of the press and the sustainability of democracy. These are not idle threats made as political rhetoric. They are dangerous challenges made by a wannabe dictator who truly believes he has the right to muzzle the media and mislead the people. We the people cannot let that happen.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Thanks to Donald Trump the U.S. Falls to 45th Place in the World Press Freedom Index

There is no question that Donald Trump is a bitter enemy of of press freedom and the Constitution’s First Amendment. He has relentlessly maligned the media in an attempt to persuade his followers that he is the only source of truthful information about the government and his administration. It’s a tactic that has been favored by authoritarian tyrants throughout history.

Donald Trump Censorship

Now Reporters Without Borders has released their latest annual study on international press freedom. The World Press Freedom Index is a ranking of the status of the media around the world. The study asserts that threats to press freedom and to journalists are growing, and warns that “hostility towards the media” is “openly encouraged by political leaders.” And the study’s opening paragraphs are clear about the sources of these escalating threats:

“More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion. The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as ‘enemies of the people,’ the term once used by Joseph Stalin.”

Trump’s attacks are are rooted in his seething fear that honest journalism will educate the public about his incompetency and criminality. So he has taken to calling any reporting that is critical of him “fake news”. While most Americans see through this infantile name-calling, his base of “Deplorables” devour it with an all-consuming ignorance and cultish devotion.

Trump has no regard for the harm he is doing to the nation and the world, whose dictators have adopted the Trump model for destroying the press. The study notes these threats as it goes into deeper detail with descriptions of the dangerous hostility that Trump holds for the the media that he is determined to undermine. What follows is the section of the study that focuses on the United States and its media-hating leader:

“In 2017, the 45th President of the United States helped sink the country to 45th place by labeling the press an ‘enemy of the American people’ in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempts to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routine use of the term ‘fake news’ in retaliation for critical reporting, and calling for media outlets’ broadcasting licenses to be revoked. President Trump has routinely singled out news outlets and individual journalists for their coverage of him, and retweeted several violent memes targeting CNN.

The violent anti-press rhetoric from the White House has been coupled with an increase in the number of press freedom violations at the local level as journalists run the risk of arrest for covering protests or simply attempting to ask public officials questions. Reporters have even been subject to physical assault while on the job.

Press freedom violations in the country of the First Amendment in fact have become so frequent of late that RSF joined a coalition of more than two dozen press freedom organizations to launch the US Press Freedom Tracker in August, which documented 34 arrests of journalists in 2017, the majority while covering protests (find out more on the tracker).”

This study is just the latest verification of how destructive Trump’s anti-media mission is, and the scale with which it produces tangible harm. He has previously been cited as an an unprecedented threat to press freedom by the Committee to Protect Journalists. And he isn’t getting any better with time. He just sent out a fundraising email that explains his decision not to attend the White House Correspondent’s Dinner this weekend. It should be noted that this is an annual event for charity that almost always features the sitting president, who joins in the lighthearted roast. But Trump whined to his donors, “Why would I want to be stuck in a room with a bunch of fake news liberals who hate me?”

Trump’s gnawing loathing for the press is also apparent in his avoidance of any scrutiny by independent journalists. He has not had a solo press conference in over a year. The only one he has held as President was shortly after his inauguration. Nor has he submitted to an interview with anyone other than friendly “news” outlets like Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network in nearly a year.

Unfortunately for our frightened president, his cowardice has been noticed by the majority of America’s citizens. They understand that a leader who is afraid to face the press is not a leader at all. Consequently, surveys that asked who the people trust more – the media or Trump – consistently show that the people have greater trust for the media than for the spineless cretin temporarily occupying the White House. And that, at least, is a hopeful sign for the future.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Is Trump ‘Complicit’ in Terrorist Threat By Supporter to ‘Gun Down’ CNN Employees?

Two days ago Donald Trump released a campaign ad that made a remarkable and nauseating accusation. The ad was rife with racist rhetoric and insults aimed at his political foes. The most disturbing part was where it charged that “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.” That is not only flaming bigotry, but it also demonstrates a totalitarian warning to anyone who might stand in the way of the Bully-in-Chief.

Trump Charlotsville

The ominous tones of that ad are reflected in the news that a terrorist threat has just been made against CNN employees. A caller to the CNN office in Atlanta made overtly terroristic threats that were filled with profanities and racial epithets. More than twenty calls were made within a two day period. The caller’s irrational outrage was expressed in terms that are recognizable to anyone who has been following Donald Trump. According to CNN:

“Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” said the caller, who cursed and used an expletive directed at African-Americans, the affidavit said.

“I am on my way right now to gun the f****** CNN cast down …. I am coming to kill you,” the caller said a second call to CNN, according to affidavit.

Sound familiar (more detail here)? These are sentiments that Trump has been disgorging for the past couple of years. His hostility toward the media is well documented. He has maligned them in Stalinist language as “the enemy of the people.” He demeans reporters as “sleazy,” “dishonest,” and “horrible people.” He advocates changing laws to make it easier to sue publishers. He has featured CNN in particular as the victim of his violent abuse in tweets where he body slams them or runs them down with a train.

Trump has even speculated about literally killing reporters. It may have been his idea of a joke, but is the consideration of murdering journalists really funny? At a campaign rally in Virginia he revealed his true feelings about the press to his audience of drooling disciples saying “I hate some of these people, I hate ’em. [But…] I would never kill them. I would never do that. Uh, let’s see, uh…” He eventually concluded that he probably wouldn’t kill them, but he had to think about it.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

And now one of his devoted minions has taken it to the next level by openly threatening the same news organization that Trump has attacked with unambiguously violent rhetoric and imagery. What did Trump expect? This was as predictable as a sunrise. And just because this crackpot was foiled doesn’t mean there aren’t others waiting for their opportunities. When Trump says that Democrats are complicit for any murders committed by undocumented immigrants he is reaching way too far to make any sense. But his warped logic applies much more accurately to his own incitement to violence against the media. And if one of his twisted troops manages to follow through on his mission, there will most assuredly be blood on Trump’s hands.

Jeff Flake Castigates Trump’s ‘Disgraceful’ Assault on the Free Press with Comparisons to Stalin

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate Wednesday that took Donald Trump to task for his attacks on the free press. Trump has been stomping on the First Amendment for the past couple of years with the intention of delegitimizing the only non-governmental institution that can hold politicians like Trump accountable. Trump needs to make certain that his base will reject the media when it is critical of him. And like every other cult leader, his goal is to insure that he is considered the only source of truth.

Donald Trump Tyrant Dictator

Flake’s speech dived deep into Trump’s thinly veiled aspirations for dictatorship. And he did a good job of highlighting the close relationship between Trump’s rhetoric and that of notorious tyrants of history. What follows are some excerpts of Flake’s address that are particularly relevant. And the full video is posted below.

“Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”

“And of course the President has it precisely backwards. Despotism is the enemy of the people. A free press is the despot’s enemy. Which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him ‘fake news,’ it is that figure who should be the person of suspicion, not the press. […] And so, we know well that no matter how powerful, no president will ever have dominion over objective reality. No politician will ever tell us what the truth is, and what it is not.”

“No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those assaults on our institutions. And an American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame, is charting a very dangerous path. And a congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to that danger. Now we are told via Twitter that today the President intends to announce his choice for ‘The Most Corrupt and Dishonest Media Awards.’ It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle. But here we are.”

“This feedback loop is disgraceful, Mr. President. Not only has this past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has now in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians with his own language. That is reprehensible.”

This speech clearly expresses what’s wrong with a president who seeks authoritarian powers and disrespects freedom of the press. It’s unfortunate that Flake waited to give it until after he had announced that he is not running for reelection. And it would be nice if his words were matched with actions that actually held Trump to account. Sadly, politicians often delay any display of courage until after they’ve quit being politicians. Let’s see if Flake, or any of his colleagues, will put some muscle behind their words and do what must be done when a president so badly violates his oath of office: Impeachment.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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