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.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump’s Zeal to Reform ‘Sham’ Libel Laws Would Expose Him to 100’s of Defamation Lawsuits

Donald Trump opened a cabinet meeting Wednesday morning by welcoming the press to “the studio.” It may have been a sarcastic remark, but it reveals his tendency to view everything from the perspective of a former reality TV game show host which, of course, he is. The portion of the meeting that was allowed to be televised just went downhill from there.

Donald Trump

The cringeworthy public appearances by this president continue to mount, although he seems to be entirely oblivious to how embarrassing they are. Underscoring that, during this cabinet meeting Trump made a point of exalting his own performance during an addled immigration PR stunt on Tuesday. He said that reporters had sent him emails calling it “One of the greatest meetings they’ve ever witnessed.”

WTF? That’s just more proof that he’s totally nuts. The meeting was an unmitigated bore except for the part when he zoned out and accidentally endorsed a “clean” DACA bill. He had to be bailed out by GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, but he still didn’t appear to grasp what he said that was wrong. And I’d love to see those alleged emails. Given Trump’s reputation as a notoriously pathological liar, it’s fairly certain that no such emails exist.

Most of the televised meeting was consumed by Trump praising himself for things he never did. The only part of the meeting that covered anything substantive was when Trump made a plea to reform libel laws. He said that:

“We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts. If somebody says something that is totally false, and knowingly false, that the person that has been abused, defamed, libeled, will have meaningful recourse.

“Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness. So we’re gonna take a strong look at that. We want fairness. You can’t say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account.”

Let’s set aside for the moment that no one in America has made more knowingly false, defamatory comments than Donald Trump. And frequently they served to enrich him. But make no mistake, this is a blatant attempt to seek revenge against anyone who dares to be critical of Trump. He is striking back at Michael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury,” and the members of his staff who were quoted in the book. He is targeting those behind the Steele Dossier and the news organizations that published it. This is a position that threatens freedom of the press, which he has made a priority of his presidency.

What’s interesting about this, however, is that the proposed reforms he would consider would very likely backfire. No one has exposed himself to more potential libel allegations than Donald Trump. Every time he calls a reporter a liar, or asserts as fact that unnamed sources don’t exist, or alleges that a story was deliberately made up, Trump is slandering those reporters and harming their reputations and careers. Every time he lashes out with his juvenile nicknames at people he is claiming are “lyin,” “failing,” or “crooked,” he is asserting a falsehood that could trigger litigation under his reform.

And then there are the outright lies that Trump has told about his critics and political foes. Think of the lawsuit that might have been filed after Trump accused Ted Cruz’s father of being part of the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. Could President Obama have sued after being charged with wiretapping Trump? There have been literally hundreds of comments and tweets by Trump that were demonstrably false, but manifestly injured their targets. For instance, what about the sixteen women who have spoken out about Trump’s sexual abuse? He called every one of them liars. One of them (so far) has filed a defamation suit which Trump, ironically, is seeking to have dismissed. So much for opening up the libel laws.

It’s plain that Trump’s only purpose here is to silence his critics. There are plenty of safeguards in current law that protect people from deliberate slander and libel. Even if committed by the media. The truth of that is demonstrated by Trump’s own lawyer who just filed a defamation lawsuit against Buzzfeed for publishing the Steele Dossier. He’ll have his day in court (which he’ll likely end up regretting). But Trump isn’t interested in truth. He’s seeking the sort of tyrannical control of the press that all dictators lust after. But he is to stupid to recognize how destructive it would be to democracy. If the consequences weren’t so horrendous, it might actually be fun to let Trump have his way and then see how many people sue him.

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

Trump ‘Honored’ by Journalists’ Organization for ‘Undermining Global Press Freedom’

Many American presidents have had a contentious relationship with the press. At times it has become a bitter rivalry wherein the media was regarded as a troublesome annoyance that embraced deliberate biases. But most of the time there remained a deep-rooted respect for the freedom of the press and the crucial role it plays in a democracy.

Donald Trump Censorship

All of that changed when Donald Trump was inaugurated January 20, 2017. Trump has been more openly hostile to the media than any chief executive before him. His hatred is expressed bluntly with insults and accusations that exceed reasonable criticism. He calls out reporters by name as “sleazy,” liars,” and “horrible people.” On more than one occasion he has labeled the press as “the enemy of the American people.” That isn’t a critique, it’s a declaration of war.

Last week Trump announced that he would be hosting an event to commemorate “The Most Dishonest and Corrupt Media Awards of the Year.” It’s just the sort of shallow stunt to be expected from a former reality game show TV host. And Trump’s dimwitted predictability removes any sense of excitement the event might have had. Let’s face it, CNN, the New York Times, and the like will dominate his phony ceremony.

In anticipation of this dull affair, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has produced their own roster of honorees that they dubbed The Press Oppressors Awards:

“Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump’s announcement via Twitter about his planned “fake news” awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media.”

The CPJ bestowed their awards on several world figures whose record of oppression and censorship was noteworthy for their severity and brutality. Not surprisingly, Trump was honored twice. The headline award that Trump snagged was for “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom.” The CPJ wrote that Trump:

“…has consistently undermined domestic news outlets and declined to publicly raise freedom of the press with repressive leaders such as Xi, Erdo?an, and Sisi. Authorities in China, Syria, and Russia have adopted Trump’s ‘fake news’ epithet, and Erdogan has applauded at least one of his verbal attacks on journalists. Under Trump’s administration, the Department of Justice has failed to commit to guidelines intended to protect journalists’ sources, and the State Department has proposed to cut funding for international organizations that help buttress international norms in support of free expression.”

Trump was also recognized as the runner up for “Most Thin-skinned.” Given his notorious narcissism and thirst for revenge, He must have been a fierce challenger for this award. The CPJ’s decision rested on Trump’s threat “to ‘open-up’ U.S. libel laws, sue news outlets, and subject their broadcast licenses to review.” And surely his posting of more than 1,000 tweets critical of the press contributed to his showing in this category.

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

The honorees for these awards are a sinister lot that includes. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, President Xi Jinping of China, and Trump’s BFF, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. That’s auspicious and foreboding company, but it accurately represents the tenor and the harm for which Trump’s presidency is responsible. And it’s a far more honest ceremonial observance than the one Trump is planning for next week (if he even bothers to follow through).

Donald Trump ‘Absolutely Believes in the First Amendment’ – And Won’t Rest Until It’s Dead

Okay, so it’s still only the first week of the new year. Nevertheless, the reigning champion of flagrant dishonesty, Donald Trump, is making a strong showing for Lie of the Year 2018. In 2017 PolitiFact “honored” him for his relentless insistence that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was a hoax. Trump stubbornly maintained that he believed Vladimir Putin’s denials more than the conclusions of every American intelligence agency that investigated the issue.

Donald Trump

And now the White House has made a declaration so absurd that it has jumped to the head of the pack for this new year of presidential lies. During the daily briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to comment on Trump’s regard for the First Amendment. She replied that:

“The President absolutely believes in the First Amendment. But as we’ve said before, the President also believes in making sure that information is accurate before pushing it out as fact when it certainly and clearly is not.”

Whenever one asserts their belief in a core constitutional principle, it’s bad form to follow it with “but…” And in this case the qualification is outright bizarre. To suggest that Trump gives a damn about “making sure that information is accurate” flies in the face of his lie-riddle Twitter feed. He has a deep rooted aversion to the truth and he proves it every day. What’s more, the Washington post has documented almost 2,000 lies Trump has told since his inauguration.

The specific lie featured here is especially egregious because Trump’s fealty to the First Amendment has always been a bad joke. After all, Trump has been attacking the free press since he launched his presidential campaign. He routinely refers to it in general terms as “fake news.” He has vilified reporters as “liars, sleazy,” and “horrible people.” And he famously called out the media in Stalinesque terms as “the enemy of the America people.”

The question that drew Sanders’ response was specifically about Trump’s reaction to the new book by Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury. He had his lawyers threatened to sue the author and his publisher. Included in the threat was a demand that strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. The letter warned that:

“Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the Book.”

So the President who “absolutely believes in the First Amendment” is attempting to force a journalist to halt publication of a book that is critical of the President. That is such an obvious contradiction in terms that it strains credulity. But it fits neatly into a pattern of oppressive behavior that is typical of Trump. There has never been a president who was more hostile to the First Amendment and those whose profession relies on it. The assertion that he believes in the First Amendment is nothing more than an acknowledgement that it exists. But he clearly regards it as an obstacle to his tyrannical aspirations and is doing everything he can to kill it.

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