Unprecedented Chaos in the Trump White House: 6 Key Posts Turnover in Only 6 Months

The first term of Donald Trump’s administration is only six months old, But it’s such an unmitigated disaster that it’s effectively already over. Many of the top positions in the White House have failed spectacularly. Trump’s campaign assertion that he “has the best people” begs the question: best at what? Obviously they aren’t the best at governing or performing the jobs for which they were hired.

Donald Trump

In only six months Trump has already replaced several of his key staffers. And others are anxiously waiting for the ax to fall on their own precariously exposed necks. This is a historically catastrophic degree of turnover by officials tasked with essential civic duties. There is simply no way any administration can be functional with so much perilous volatility.

The departments that have seen their leaders repealed and replaced are not trivial figureheads. They are mission critical managers upon whom rest competent governance and national security. What follows are some of the posts that are already starting over after a disastrous half year of Trump’s failure of leadership.

National Security Advisor
Within a mere three weeks of his appointment, Gen. Michael Flynn was dismissed under a cloud of scandal. He was closely associated with Russian operatives during Trump’s campaign. What’s more, he failed to disclose those relationships as required by law. Trump said that he fired Flynn for lying to him and Vice-President Pence about his meetings with Russians. However, Trump denied that there was anything improper about the meetings.

Press Secretary
The most visible person in any presidential administration is the press secretary. Trump’s first choice for that post was Sean Spicer (Fibby Spice). In the few months that he managed to hold onto the job he was castigated for being overtly dishonest. His first public appearance was spent lying about the crowd estimates at Trump’s inaugural address. It was all downhill from there. Spicer often claimed not to have spoken with the President on key questions raised by reporters. And in an attempt to avoid further bad publicity, he shut down the daily press briefings or prohibited cameras. During his tenure far-right fringe outfits like Breitbart News and Alex Jones’ Infowars were granted press credentials. And all of this took place under the president who declared the media “the enemy of the American people.”

Communications Director
The first person appointed to this post was not especially noteworthy. Michael Dubke’s short tenure went almost completely unnoticed. He was replaced briefly by Sean Spicer in an acting capacity. Then Trump named Anthony Scaramucci to the post permanently. Scaramucci came screaming out of the gate with wild accusations and insults directed at Spicer and others in the administration. His profanity-laced diatribes against Trump’s Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon made headlines for the worst possible reasons. But he did represent the President in the vulgar fashion to which is accustomed.

[UPDATE:] Scaramucci has been fired. Sources say that the new White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, wanted to select his own team. Translation: Get that vulgar piece af crap out of my White House.

Chief of Staff
And speaking of Reince Priebus, shortly after Scaramucci’s unhinged tirade, Priebus was ousted from his job. But like a good little sycophant, he praised both Trump and Scaramucci on his way out the door. Entering the Oval Office to replace Priebus was Gen. John Kelly, currently Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Trump announced Kelly’s appointment in glowing terms that highlighted the “spectacular” job Kelly did at DHS. It is, therefore, curious that Trump would take this star performer from his job protecting America, and selfishly limit his role to one of protecting just the President.

Secretary of Homeland Security
Of course, Kelly’s transfer leaves the vital post of DHS secretary vacant. It remains to be seen who Trump will offer as a replacement. Some Washington insiders have speculated that he might move Attorney General Jeff Sessions into the job. But you have to wonder why Trump would give such an important job to someone he has publicly said has disappointed him? The answer may be that Trump wants an excuse to remove Sessions as AG so that he can replace him as well. It’s no secret that Trump wants to fire special counselor Robert Mueller. Sessions can’t do that because of his recusal on matters related to that investigation.

FBI Director
Last May Trump shocked the nation by firing FBI Director James Comey. That impetuous and self-serving action set in motion many of Trump’s current problems. It’s why Sessions had to recuse himself. And it’s why there is a special counselor investigating Trump, his campaign, and his finances. In particular, Trump has exposed himself to impeachable charges of obstruction of justice. Comey’s department was investigating Trump’s unsavory connections to Russia. Trump even admitted that his reason for firing Comey was because of “this Russia thing.”

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

These high-level staff turnovers are unique for a presidency that’s only six months old. It speaks to the incompetence and erratic nature of this president. The rest of his cabinet is just as conflicted, corrupt, and unqualified as those that have been cast out. They just haven’t had their public meltdowns yet. And if anyone is surprised by the turmoil in Washington, they haven’t been paying attention. Donald Trump is the most conflicted, corrupt, and unqualified of the bunch. And his day will come as well. Hopefully before he has had a chance to do much more damage.

Trump Mocked for Partnering with Putin on Cyber Security as ‘Dumbest Idea’ Ever

Donald Trump just returned from his latest Embarrassing America World Tour. And even before deplaning in D.C., he has managed to aggravate his own party for some typically Trumpian idiocy.

Donald Trump Vladimir Putin

During the highly anticipated meeting with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, Trump reportedly raised the issue of election tampering. However, his approach completely failed to hold Putin to account. Trump tiptoed into the subject by phrasing it as something that concerns the American people. He never asserted that it was of concern to him. And, of course, it wasn’t, judging by his public comments on it. Once at home, Trump felt comfortable to post his latest feelings on Twitter:

Well, then. Since he pressed it twice. I’m pretty sure that’s how professionals in law enforcement handle these things. They ask the suspect twice if he committed the murder, and if he denies it, they let him go. As for Trump’s assertion that he has already given his own opinion, that’s true. He did so again a few days ago when he said:

“I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows for sure.”

That certainly clears things up, doesn’t it? And now that the whole election hacking scandal is wrapped up, we can move on to other pressing matters. For instance, Trump announced that he and Putin have agreed to set up a cyber security operation to prevent future electronic intrusions. Trump tweeted that:

What a grand idea. Let’s collaborate with the guy who ordered the election hacking in the first place on scheme to keep others from doing it. In other words, let’s give the burglar the keys to the front door and the times we will be out walking the dog. Makes perfect sense. In fact, it’s so brilliant that even Trump’s colleagues in the Republican Party had something to say about it.

Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that “Partnering with Putin on a “Cyber Security Unit” is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit.'” Sen. Lindsey Graham said that working with Putin to combat cyber crimes is “pretty close” to “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” And Sen. John McCain snarked that “I’m sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort, since he is doing the hacking.” If that’s how Republicans are responding, needless to say the rest of the nation is at least equally dismayed. For instance, Twitter is afire with sarcastic analogies:

None of this matters to Trump. He’s still obsessed with why Obama allegedly “did nothing” about the Russian hacking that he still thinks is fake news. Trump’s PR offensive is fanning out to the Sunday news programs to spread illogical talking points. His Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, insists that “The President absolutely did not believe the denial of President Putin.” Of course not. Trump asserted the same denial before ever talking to Putin. Then his U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said that “Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections” Well, everybody but Trump, who still claims that “Nobody really knows for sure.” Why is his top diplomat contradicting him?

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

This would all be great material for Saturday Night Live if it weren’t so dangerous for America’s future. Trump is now going beyond merely letting Putin off the hook. He’s inviting our enemy into the situation room so he can get a better look at our defenses. It would be generous to say that this only borders on treason. And Trump’s Republican Party appears to be in complete accord with this betrayal. The question is, what will it take for the GOP to stand up for America’s sovereignty? And will they do it before even more serious damage is done?

UPDATE: Trump posted another tweet on this subject:

So Trump spoke with the man who orchestrated the election tampering without making him pay any price for subverting democracy. And now we learn that he wasted much of that time on an idiotic plan to partner with Putin on cyber security that he didn’t even think was possible. This just keeps getting worse.

BE AFRAID: Trump Admin is ‘Looking At’ Amending or Abolishing the First Amendment

The not-so-subtle inclination of Donald Trump toward totalitarian rule has been apparent for some time. He has repeatedly expressed his admiration for strongman dictators like Erdogan, Jong-Un, Hussein, and Vladimir Putin. What’s more, the alleged “dealmaker” is nakedly hostile to compromise or to accommodating opinions that differ from his own. It’s either conform to Trumpism or be denigrated as a lying, crooked, enemy of America.

Reince Priebus

In an interview Sunday, Trump’s Chief-of-Staff, Reince Priebus, affirmed the authoritarian aspirations of this president. ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Priebus about Trump’s prior statements concerning punishing or restricting the press when he doesn’t like what they say about him. That question led to this ominous exchange (video below):

KARL: I want to ask you about two things the President has said on related issues. First of all, there was what he said about opening up the libel laws. Tweeting “the failing New York Times has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change the libel laws?” That would require, as I understand it, a constitutional amendment. Is he really going to pursue that? Is that something he wants to pursue?

PRIEBUS: I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story. But when you have articles out there that have no basis or fact and we’re sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters . . .

KARL: So you think the President should be able to sue the New York Times for stories he doesn’t like?

PRIEBUS: Here’s what I think. I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news. I am so tired . . .

KARL: I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. It’s about whether or not the President should have a right to sue them.

PRIEBUS: And I already answered the question. I said this is something that is being looked at. But it’s something that as far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that’s another issue.

Priebus could not have been more clear. The President is actively considering changes to the Constitution that would put the free press at risk. The changes he is considering would permit retaliation from hostile government officials seeking revenge for unfavorable coverage. Even short of litigation, such a move would have a chilling effect on journalists.

Trump has openly expressed his animosity toward the press. He calls them sleazy, liars, and “fake news” (although apparently without any understanding of what that phrase means). During the campaign he corralled them in pens and revoked the credentials of those he felt were not sufficiently adoring. His comments have even put some of them at risk for physical harm.

Trump’s consolidation of control goes beyond just the media. This weekend he also complained about the processes in Congress that interfere with him getting his way. “The rules of the Senate,” he said, “in some of the things you have to go through, it’s really a bad thing for the country in my opinion. They’re archaic rules.” In other words, he is opposed to the sort of democratic form of government wherein the people’s representatives work together to shape a consensus on legislation. He prefers dictating his demands and having everyone comply unquestioningly.

The purpose of these assaults on the Constitution is to delegitimize any criticism or opposition, no matter how appropriate. Trump wants only positive stories about him and his administration. And he will not tolerate anyone exposing his frequent mistakes, misstatements and lies. For that reason, every American should be wary of Trump’s efforts to silence the press. And particularly any attempt to codify such censorship into law or Constitutional amendments.

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

Watergate’s Carl Bernstein Says Donald Trump Is ‘More Treacherous’ Than Nixon

Fallout from Donald Trump’s brazenly anti-American attack on the press continues to spread. Last Friday he posted a comment on Twitter that has been universally assailed for its hostility to the Constitution and one of its most cherished principles: A free press. He tweeted:

The reaction to this nauseating tweet was immediate and profound revulsion. Needless to say, Democrats have been united in condemning these remarks. And the response from the Twitter community was a flood of disgust, along with examples of heroic journalists under the hashtag #NotTheEnemy.

Carl Bernstein

However, offense was not taken solely by Democrats and liberals. Trump’s Republican colleague, John McCain, noted that “That’s how dictators get started.” His own Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, disagreed with the “enemy” rhetoric. And in an interview with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, Chris Wallace of Fox News said that Trump had “crossed the line.” “We don’t have a state-run media in this country,” Wallace told Priebus. “That’s what they have in dictatorships.”

In addition to these stinging rebukes, there was one that might pack an especially painful wallop. Carl Bernstein was half of the renowned pair of journalists, Woodward and Bernstein, that uncovered the Watergate scandal. Their investigative reporting culminated in the resignation of disgraced former president Richard Nixon. The whole story was as intriguing as any spy thriller. Nixon’s crimes included electoral corruption, perjury, pay offs, and cover ups. So it’s pretty significant when Bernstein appears on CNN and says this (video below):

“Trump’s attacks on the American press as ‘enemies of the America people’ is more treacherous than Nixon’s attacks on the press.”

Having been an eyewitness to one of America’s most notorious political scandals, Bernstein has credibility with this issue that is unparalleled. He is plainly disturbed by the language emanating from this president. If Nixon’s crimes warranted impeachment, than what does that say about Trump’s “more treacherous” behavior? Bernstein had more to say about it himself:

“It’s a demagogue’s statement.” […] “We’ve never seen in an American president such open authoritarian moves and rhetoric. This is a terrible time we’re living in.” […] “We are not enemies of the American people. In fact we’re the last resort of the American people to a dictatorial and authoritarian-inclined president.”

Trump’s slander of the media as an “enemy of the American people” is just the latest unhinged swipe he’s taken at the press. His previous assaults were castigated by groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists, who warned that “A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States.” Yet he continues to escalate a dangerous dialog that could incite violence against reporters. After all, his rabid followers take very seriously anything that he tells them. And when he tells them that the press is the nation’s enemy, to what lengths might they go to “protect” their country?

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

ALTERNATIVE FACTS? The Trump Team’s War On The Media – And Reality

It didn’t take long for Donald Trump and his press team to fulfill the most dire predictions made regarding his hostility toward the media. During his campaign, alarmed press advocates called him out as “an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists.” His treatment of reporters covering him was brazenly antagonistic and insulting. And now that he has been sworn in as president, he hasn’t moderated his animosity in the least.

Kellyanne Conway

At a hastily assembled appearance at CIA offices, Trump spoke mainly about his “running war with the media.” He made a point of disparaging them as “the most dishonest human beings on earth.” Why he thought that was an appropriate subject for this audience is a mystery. But it was also the theme of the day for his staff.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the White House press corps together to deliver a statement. What transpired was shocking and unprecedented. For his first showing in the White House briefing room, Spicer unleashed a torrent of invective and lies which he read awkwardly from prepared notes. He lied about things for which there is video proof. He elevated a tangential issue above far more important matters in the news. His ranting reflected Trump’s thin-skinned narcissism and ego-drive obsession with approval. His angry and partisan insults were disrespectful and somewhat fascistic as he instructed reporters on what they should cover. He clearly doesn’t understand his role as a conduit for informing the public. And he concluded by stomping out with taking a single question.

Worst of all, Spicer’s complaints were a collection of verifiable lies. Among the falsehoods he sought to disseminate are these, which were all proven to be untrue by PolitiFact:

  • “This is the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall.”
    FALSE: They were used in 2012 for Obama’s second inauguration.
  • “This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.”
    FALSE: The Secret Service, who are responsible for these matters, refutes this.
  • “No one had numbers, because the National Parks Service does not put any out.”
    FALSE: While the Parks Service doesn’t put out numbers, other parties do.
  • “We know that 420,000 people used the D.C, Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 for president Obama’s last inaugural.”
    FALSE: The D.C. Metro actually provided different numbers that show Obama’s attendance were substantially higher.
  • “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”
    FALSE: Obama’s first inauguration drew 1.8 million people (seven time more), and the television audience was 38 million (seven million more).

Spicer spoke about his intention to “to hold the press accountable.” However, it remains unclear what he means by that. Sunday morning, Trump’s senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, told NBC’s Chuck Todd that “our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts.” As Todd pointed out, another term for “alternative facts” is falsehoods.

Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, also commented on this subject. He said that “The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president.” Priebus is asserting that an honest presentation of the facts “deligitimizes” his boss. He may have a point.

All of this is reminiscent of remarks made by another Trump surrogate during a radio interview in December. Scottie Nell Hughes declared that “There’s no such thing unfortunately, anymore, as facts.” That viewpoint is an admission that they can’t possibly persuade anyone to support them if they have to rely on reality. Consequently, they resort to creating their own reality and sucking the weak into it.

Finally, on a peculiar side note, the video below is from CNN. That’s because the video on the all-new White House website is something of a digital monstrosity. It’s about an hour and forty-seven minutes long. However, the first hour and thirteen minutes is just silence with a blue card saying the statement is “Beginning Shortly.” That’s followed by about twenty minutes of an empty podium in the briefing room. Then we get to the actual six minute statement by Spicer. And finally, the video closes with another eight minutes of a blue card saying “Just Concluded.” Either they don’t have anyone who can edit a video, or they meant to bury the six minute statement in nearly two hours of nothing. Given what he had to say, that might be a pretty reasonable strategy. Unfortunately, we may be in for another four years of this obfuscation and incompetence.

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

GOP Hypocrites Abandon Criteria For Cabinet Nominees That They Demanded From Obama

As Inauguration Day draws closer, Donald Trump’s transition continues to break with ethical standards that have had bipartisan approval for decades. Now his cabinet nominees are scheduled to have hearings in a slap-dash, marathon day of Senate gabfests. This is designed deliberately to make it impossible for senators and citizens to fully consider the nominees.

Mitch McConnell

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is expressed its misgivings with the Republican scheduling. The OGE director warned that the plan to hold confirmation hearings before the completion of ethics reviews is “of great concern.” In a letter to the Senate he said:

“As OGE’s director, the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me. […] I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process.”

Also expressing concern was the Democratic National Committee. They called for the hearings to be delayed until the ethics office had sufficient time to complete the reviews. Absent that, DNC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said that “the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that they are concerned about what will be exposed.”

Among the reviews still being conducted are FBI background checks, OGE investigations into conflicts of interest, and financial disclosures. And what makes this all the more interesting is that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had the very same concerns. Not now, but back in 2009 when it was Obama’s nominees being considered. McConnell wrote to then-Majority Leader Harry Reid to insist that all these reviews must be completed and returned in enough time to review prior to the hearings.

Joining the call for adhering to ethical precedents was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted:

Not surprisingly, Reince Priebus, Trump’s Chief of Staff, is comfortable with jettisoning ethics reviews. On Fox News Sunday he said that “there’s no reason … they have all the information that they need. It’s no different from any other new administration coming in.” However, McConnell’s letter proves that it’s entirely different.

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

The standards that Republicans impose on Democrats is a much higher one than that to which they hold themselves. That’s why their nominees have been criticized for their blatant conflicts and unsavory behavior. And it’s why Republicans are so anxious to shove these cretins through the confirmation process before everyone finds out about them.

REALITY CHECK: Trump’s Chief of Staff Says ‘Every Single Thing He’s Done Has Been Factual’

Dispatch From Bizarro World: Donald Trump’s incoming Chief of Staff appeared on Fox News Sunday and demonstrated just how far from reality these people have strayed. In an interview with Chris Wallace, Reince Priebus dodged and weaved for twelve minutes, avoiding direct answers to simple questions. For instance, he wavered on whether Trump still doesn’t accept that Russia hacked the election to benefit his campaign. In fact, Priebus implied that the CIA and the FBI might be lying in their assessments. Apparently, like his boss, he puts more trust in Vladimir Putin than in the American intelligence community.

Reince Priebus

However, there was an enlightening exchange toward the end that perfectly epitomizes the alternate reality that Trumpsters inhabit. Wallace wondered whether there was any talk within the Trump camp about “damping down [his] provocative remarks.” Priebus first denied that he says anything provocative. Then he made this stunning declaration:

“I think every single thing he’s done has been factual and has been in line with where 80 percent of the American people are at.”

Seriously? Donald Trump may be the most flagrantly dishonest politician in history. His prodigious lying is well documented (see the Trump Bullshitopedia) In 2015, PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year was “The campaign misstatements of Donald Trump.” They couldn’t even settle on a single lie, they had to designate his entire collection of falsehoods. And Trump’s PolitiFact report card reveals that he lies far more frequently than anyone else they have ever reviewed. He currently has a record 62 “Pants-on-Fire” lies contributing to 69 percent “Mostly False” or worse.

As for being in line with 80 percent of the American people, that’s a number Priebus pulled from – let’s say thin air. Trump didn’t even get 50 percent of the American people to vote for him. And Hillary Clinton’s popular vote margin is nearing 3,000,000. Trump now has the lowest favorability of any president-elect.

To say that everything Trump’s done has been factual dumps a new whopper on top of the pile that Trump has already built. But it does reinforce the Trump Doctrine of doubling down on whatever they say, no matter how ludicrous. Trump has still never admitted that there weren’t thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. He still clings to the the nonsense that millions of Clinton votes were illegal. And he continues to insist that America’s corporate taxes are the highest in the world, there are more murders now than in the past 45 years, and that climate change is a hoax. None of those things are true.

Despite his atrocious record on truth-telling, Trump regards himself as a paragon of veracity. Last year he told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News that “I don’t lie. In fact, if anything, I’m so truthful that it gets me in trouble. They say I’m too truthful.” Yeah, right. Obviously everything above negates that delusional self-appraisal.

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

Trump’s Campaign Of Lies Is Portrayed As ‘Refreshing’ By His VP Mike Pence

A couple of weeks ago the Oxford Dictionary selected “post-truth” as its Word of the Year for 2016. They define it as the preference for emotion and personal belief over objective facts. That’s been the operative model for Donald Trump’s campaign from the very start. Now his top staff are cementing the strategy into his developing presidency.

Trump/Pence

Trump recently tweeted that he would have won the popular vote but for the “millions of people who voted illegally.” That nonsense won him his 61st Pants-On-Fire lie from PolitiFact. He never bothered to provide any evidence to support the claim. And the evidence provided by his spokespersons didn’t even address the subject.

It’s clear that Trump and his minions have no respect for the truth. One of his most prominent surrogates, Scottie Nell Hughes of CNN, came right out and admitted it. In a recent radio interview she said that “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts.” We are truly over the rainbow here, folks.

The latest tunnel-blind defense of Trump’s brazen dishonesty goes even further to malign the existence of facts. His Chief of Staff nominee, Reince Priebus, was asked by John Dickerson of CBS’s Face the Nation about Trump’s tweet. Priebus responded saying:

“Here’s the thing, no one really knows. You don’t know. […] I think the president-elect is someone who has pushed the envelope and caused people to think in this country. He’s not taking conventional thought on every single issue.”

Indeed. He has caused people to think – that their President-Elect is a pathological liar. What Priebus is calling “pushing the envelope” and “unconventional thought” are better known to most people as bullshitting. This parade of euphemisms continued on the Sunday TV news circuit with VP-Elect Mike Pence. George Stephanopoulos asked him if Trump had “a right to make false statements.” Pence replied that:

“It’s his right to express his opinion. […] And I think the American people find it very refreshing that they have a president who will tell them what’s on his mind.”

Once again, propagating purposeful falsehoods is framed benignly as expressing an opinion. These people don’t think there’s any difference between a politically partisan spin on a personal belief and a demonstrable fact. They are actually seeking to abolish the concept of facts in order to dispense their fabrications without consequences. It’s the same approach they take to disparaging the media. They don’t do it as responsible criticism, but as a means to eliminate any critical judgment of their deliberate distortions of reality. And to that end, Trump tweeted this defense of his obsession with Twitter:

Of course, what he really objects to are those rare occasions when the press does cover him accurately and honorably. Sad.

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

Hannity Wants To Use White House Press Credentials To Punish, Censor ‘Unfriendly’ Media

The emerging profile of the Trump administration is beginning to take shape. And it is just as frightening and offensive as expected.

Sean Hannity

Donald Trump’s first two official appointments provide no confidence whatsoever of a competent, inclusive Executive Branch. Right out of the gate is the current chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, as Chief of Staff. So the gateway to the Oval Office will be guarded by a rank political partisan with no experience in government. Secondly, Trump made his campaign chair, Stephen Bannon, his Chief Strategist. Bannon, of course, is also the CEO of Breitbart News, the alt-right’s mouthpiece for racist propaganda.

On Monday Sean Hannity of Fox News (Breitbart Lite) made his position clear regarding how Trump should handle the media. Not that Trump hasn’t already been clear that he regards it as a dishonest bunch of sleazy liars. A pro-Trump Twitter user posted a comment that caught Hannity’s eye. It said “CNN, NYT, WaPo & others shown to have colluded by @wikileaks should not receive WH press credentials.” Hannity retweeted it and responded simply “Amen.”

First of all, there have been no WikiLeaks documents revealing any collusion between the news organizations cited. That is just another invented “fact” that fuels so much of the right’s irrational outrage. The truth is that most of the WikiLeaks references to the media exposed nothing but reporters seeking information or interviews. In other words, doing their jobs.

The bigger problem here is the eagerness with which Hannity agreed that it would be proper to deny press credentials to some of the most prominent news enterprises in the country. It is a direct expression of support for punishing media for being critical of the President. That is a blatant breach of the First Amendment and the principle of freedom of the press. The White House press corps is not supposed to be the cheering section for Trump & Company.

For his part, Trump has demonstrated a hostility to the media that borders on psychotic. Journalist organizations have deemed him an unprecedented threat to press freedom. He calls reporters liars, dummies, and sleazy, as he points to them menacingly at his rallies. That has resulted in some reporters becoming targets of assaults. His vitriol has contributed to driving trust of the media to historic lows. And he has already engaged in discriminatory acts that amount to censorship by banning certain reporters from his events. They include the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision, the Des Moines Register, and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

On the other hand, Trump has granted press passes to some unsavory characters who don’t qualify as legitimate media. A notable example is James Edwards of the Political Cesspool blog. Edwards is an unabashed racist who has written favorably about slavery. That’s the sort of “journalist” that makes the grade in Trump’s Ivory Tower. If The Donald’s Politburo has its way only Breitbart News and the National Enquirer would receive credentials.

However, it may not be that easy for them to carry out their purge. Authority over who gets press passes to the White House belongs to the Standing Committee of Correspondents on Capitol Hill. The committee is made up of credentialed congressional reporters. But the White House could still forbid individuals based on informal criteria mainly involving security. Even then, it might encounter opposition from the media and the public if it acted out of partisanship or revenge.

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

Hannity’s hypocrisy, however, is both stunning and typical. The same Hannity who now favors punishing “unfriendly” media, used to have seizures if President Obama said anything mildly critical of the press. And this anti-First Amendment view is plainly shared by Trump and his inner circle of autocrats. Without strict oversight of the Trump administration’s tendency toward censorship, it will surely try to poison press relations and access. That could lead to a dangerous situation wherein an aspiring dictator could deceive the nation into creeping tyranny. It has happened before.

Trump’s Refusal To Accept The Results Of The Election Is Not ‘Suspense’ – It’s Treason

The third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is now history and that’s precisely the place it will reside. Never before has a candidate outright refused to respect the will of the voters. However, Trump is not an ordinary candidate. From the outset of his campaign he’s taken every opportunity to express disrespect for American principles and for his opponents. And that was true during the Republican primary as well as the general election.

Donald Trump

There were many times during the debate that Trump embarrassed himself. He blatantly lied about his prior support for countries like Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, to acquire nuclear weapons. He defended Russia against charges that they hacked American citizens and institutions. And he denied insulting the women he’s accused of assaulting even though videotape exists to prove it. Trump even blamed Clinton for his failure to pay federal income taxes for nearly two decades.

But the most disturbing thing Trump said last night was that he was unwilling to accept the results of the election if he loses. His baseless assertion that the system is “rigged” against him is typical of his paranoid, narcissistic approach everything. His specific complaints were a cacophony of incoherence. Beginning with this:

“I’ll look at it at the time. What I’ve seen, what I’ve seen, is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing. The New York Times actually wrote an article about it, but they don’t even care. It is so dishonest, and they have poisoned the minds of the voters.”

Even if the media were biased against him, that would not equate to voter fraud or make the election invalid. And he praises the New York Times in the same sentence that he criticizes it. Then he insults voters for allowing their minds to be poisoned, but only if they don’t vote for him. For the record, studies show that Trump received far more favorable coverage in the press than any other candidate.

Trump continued his anti-democratic rant with more blathering that is impossible to translate into human:

“Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote. So let me just give you one other thing. I talk about the corrupt media. I talk about the millions of people. I’ll tell you one other thing. She shouldn’t be allowed to run. It’s … She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run, and just in that respect I say it’s rigged.”

First of all, the millions of people he’s referring to appear to be names that appear on registration rolls that may not be updated for deaths or relocations. Of course, there is zero evidence that anyone in those circumstances ever voter improperly. But what “serious crime” Trump has in mind is never mentioned. And in any case, he is not the arbiter of who is permitted to run for office. The Constitution doesn’t prohibit even felons from running. He is simply demonstrating his affinity for tyrannical rule. Just as he did when he promised to investigate and incarcerate Clinton if he should become president.

Debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News reminded Trump that his refusal to accept the election results contradicted pretty much everyone in own sphere of influence. Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chair, insisted that the election results should be respected. So did his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, his running mate Mike Pence, and his daughter, Ivanka. Nevertheless, Trump himself veered off to say only that “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?” He still seems to think this a reality TV game show.

For her part, Clinton was appropriately appalled. She interjected to say “let me respond to that because that’s horrifying.” Continuing she said:

“This is a mind-set. This is how Donald thinks, and it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works. We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”

Exactly. That is how an adult behaves in a democracy. It’s a question of valuing the principles and traditions that define a free people. And it isn’t an act of partisanship. When you have people like GOP strategist Steve Schmidt saying Trump’s remarks are “a disqualifying moment,” and Fox analyst Charles Krauthammer calling it “political suicide,” it’s safe to say that party affiliation is not involved.

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

What Trump has done is to plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of his gullible followers. He is saying that American elections are untrustworthy and not to be respected. That’s a recipe for chaos and it encourages the most demented malcontents to take matters into their own warped hands. If Donald Trump had an ounce of patriotism he would immediately reverse course and pledge to honor the election. But knowing him that would be way too much to expect.