Thoughts On “What next?”

“Once they succeeded in ending democracy and turning Germany into a one-party dictatorship, the Nazis orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign to win the loyalty and cooperation of Germans. The Nazi Propaganda Ministry, directed by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, took control of all forms of communication in Germany: newspapers, magazines, books, public meetings, and rallies, art, music, movies, and radio. Viewpoints in any way threatening to Nazi beliefs or to the regime were censored or eliminated from all media.”United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 

Under Trump, “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.” – Alexander Bolton, The Hill, 19 January 2017

“Speaking from the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, before a wall of stars honoring intelligence officers who died in service, Trump declared, “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, right?” – Donald Trump speaking at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters, Saturday, 21 January 2017

Robert B. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He recently wrote an article titled, “Trump’s Seven Techniques to Control the Media: Tyrants always try to suppress a free press; here’s Trump’s playbook.” The Seven Techniques are:

  • Berate the media
  • Blacklist critical media
  • Turn the public against the media
  • Condemn satirical or critical comments
  • Threaten the media directly
  • Limit media access
  • Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly

Historically, these seven techniques have been used by demagogues to erode the freedom and independence of the press. For the full article, click here   I think we can all agree that Trump has done each of the seven listed here.

Daily White House press briefings are under scrutiny as Mike Pence says they are “giving some consideration to finding a larger venue on the 18 acres in the White House complex to accommodate the extraordinary interest.” While there could be some logic to that, as the current briefing room has seating for about 50, and standing room for another 35 or so, the press corps is not happy with this move, saying that it “will fight to keep the briefing room and West Wing access to senior administration officials open. We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps.”  Some speculate that the additional capacity is nothing more than an effort by Trump to pack the audience with his own supporters in order to cheer his announcements and shout down any reporters that ask difficult questions, thus turning the White House briefings into yet another rally. Still others wonder if the Trump team is considering getting rid of the daily press briefings altogether, expecting us to rely solely on Twitter communiques for our information.

A recent Twitter exchange (how else does anyone in the current regime communicate???), White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, NBC’s Chuck Todd,  and CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Schiutto:

Spicer: Regardless of party, @acosta behavior was rude, inappropriate and disrespectful. He owes @realDonaldTrump and his colleagues an apology

Todd: There’s nothing in the first amendment about being polite (hashtags removed for clarity)

Spicer: Your right Chuck, I wasn’t quoting the constitution and didn’t bring up 1st Amend. Sad you defend this tho

Schiutto: CNN’s @Acosta reports Trump spokesman @seanspicer told him he’ll be kicked out of future press confs if he presses hard for ques again

Spicer: Not true, but par for the course in terms of the false reporting

The bottom line and crucial question is this: Could the White House, i.e. Trump, suspend the press passes for individual journalists or media outlets.  The simple answer is that yes, in all likelihood they could, but it is seen as unlikely, as it would not be a smart move.  But then … look who we are talking about.

“Because administrations generally don’t want to be seen as deciding who is or isn’t a qualified journalist, it’s unheard of for a reporter to be suspended for the quality of his or her reporting or behavior, though there are a few notable cases of reporters being barred for security reasons.” – Foreign Policy

Adolph Hitler took power in Germany in 1933.  Book burnings began that same year. During the first weeks of 1933, the Nazi regime deployed the radio, press, and newsreels to stoke fears of a pending “Communist uprising,” then channeled popular anxieties into political measures that eradicated civil liberties and democracy.

We are not to that point … yet.  Let us not allow our nation to get there.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” –  Martin Luther King, Jr.

18 thoughts on “Thoughts On “What next?”

    • I fully understand. But I cannot tell you that I will not continue writing about it, as it is important to me … and, you know that you have a pony in this race too. I hope you don’t stop reading my blog altogether, because I always enjoy your comments, even when we don’t agree! But sadly, U.S. politics is the main topic of the day, at least for now. Take heart, my friend … tomorrow is Monday, so I will be doing my usual Monday morning attempt, pitiful though it often is, at humour! Hugs, my friend! ❤

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  1. Though I didn’t vote for the current president, opting instead to vote third party, and though I completely agree that he is too brash and lacks a lot of the civilities and niceties which are necessary for proper presidential decorum, (Obama would have never accused CNN of being ‘Fake News”) because that’s just not what presidents do, here’s a video that I feel outlines one of the big problems with the lack of credibility of the mainstream media.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c5aDfPruXY &feature=em-uploademail

    I’d also like to say that though I understand and have fallen into the trap of impulsive Facebooking or tweeting, if journalists are to maintain their credibility, they need to hold themselves and be held to a higher standard of accountability, especially in an age of instant and abundant communication, would you not agree?

    If people don’t trust the press, the press only have themselves to blame for losing that trust because of their bias and unwillingness to check themselves and bring objectivity to the trade of journalism instead of bring with them a clear political agenda. If you look, you can find a reporter saying “we’ve helped Hillary all we can” and “She gotten a free ride form the press” and those sorts of things. It is not the job of the press to endorse of discredit a political candidate, it is merely their duty and responsibility to report the news as it happens and leave the editorializing and sorting out to the general public. We have become lazy and complacent in that regard because for too long, we have allowed corporate media conglomerates to do that job for us and look at the results, a reality television star is now leading the country. Who is next, a wrestler with brain damage like in Idiocrasy?

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    • I would certainly agree that this is the time the media must have impeccable integrity, as if we cannot trust our Fourth Estate, then there will be no one we can trust. I also hope they don’t buckle under the pressure of threats from the current regime. Another concern I have is the ‘faux press’ … those sites that pander to gossip and fiction, some of which actually appear legitimate and have large followings. Thanks for dropping by … I hadn’t seen you recently! Always appreciate your opinions.

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  2. Jill, he appears to be following this playbook, but there is one thing that is against him. The media crosses borders now and we have more people who are calling him out for his egomaniacal foolishness. Also, when he was appointed, I felt Sean Spicer was a horrible pick to be a press secretary. He is far too belligerent and it is already hurting the Trump office making Spicer look like a spoiled little boy as well.

    With all of that said, your point is still scary and we must guard against suppression of the media and equality. It should be noted that Trump’s office made no mention of a first day executive order of unwinding a change on mortgage premiums that would have reduced premiums for over a million people – that live in the middle class he says he wants to protect. Keith

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    • Agreed … Sean Spicer is an arrogant little … well, you know. His behaviour thus far indicates that there will not likely be a good working relationship between him and the press. He used the last briefing to berate the press, then simply walked out without taking a single question. This is not going to work at all! Hugh thinks the press will knuckle under and “behave” rather than risk losing their press passes … I hope he is wrong, but I wonder. What is your take?

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  3. This is precisely what I have been talking about: “Could the White House, i.e. Trump, suspend the press passes for individual journalists or media outlets. The simple answer is that yes, in all likelihood they could, but it is seen as unlikely, as it would not be a smart move.” It “not being a smart move” will not deter this man at all. He is not the master of smart moves! And those reporters want to keep their jobs. To do so they will have to “behave themselves.” This does not bode well.

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  4. Dear Jill,

    I keep reminding myself that the USA is not Russia. Fortunately, our forefathers put a lot of thought in how it set up our systems of checks and balances. He is digging his own grave. Eventually, he will learn tat it does not pay to make angry and goad the media reporters and the intelligence community agents.

    How dumb can he be? We shall find out.

    Hugs, Gronda

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  5. I have my self drawn several direct comparisons between the rise of Trump to the rise of Hitler. A great number of people telling me I was being ridiculous, over reacting. “Give him a chance” they say. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince man he didn’t exist. The devil is in the details. In our system of checks and balances, the press acts as the 4th branch of government. Guaranteeing we, the people, unrestricted information regarding our elected officials and the actions they take in our service. This check includes reporting facts, unbiased, unedited, unadulterated. Limiting access to, or impugning credibility of, individuals or organizations, for voicing criticism or drawing into question the validity said facts, is an unconstitutional act. Absent the voice of criticism, these details go unexposed, and unexposed their very existence becomes questioned. “Power tends to corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely ”
    Sir John Dalberg-Acton

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