The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to bare the secrets of government and inform the people. – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black
Contrary to what Donald Trump has claimed repeatedly, the press is not the ‘enemy of the people’. The press does its job to inform the people of what is happening in the government we support, both financially and with our votes, as well as what is happening around the world. Sometimes they make mistakes, sometimes perhaps they cross a line, but for the most part, they are our lifeline to the world and to our own government. Without them, we would have become a dictatorship many years ago, I think.
Donald Trump showed no love for the press, putting them down, mocking, and criticizing at every turn during his campaign. Some believed that once he took office he would find ways to be more ‘presidential’, rather than doing things like mocking a disabled reporter. I never believed he would tone down his rhetoric against the press, and had deep-seated concerns that he would, in fact, turn up the volume until his verbiage had the effect of curtailing the freedom of the press and binding their hands. It would seem that he is well on his way to attempting to do just that.
On Saturday night, Trump attended an event to benefit veterans where he gave a speech, much of which addressed his feud with the media rather than anything to do with veteran affairs. “The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them. The people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not.”
But worse was yet to come. At 9:21 EDT on Sunday (02 July 2017) morning, Trump twitted a tweet that included a video. It is a 28-second clip that shows Donald Trump at a pro wrestling event, body-slamming to the floor a man with a CNN logo for a head. Some of his fans laughed at the video. Others rolled their eyes. But it was taken seriously by members of the media, some of whom have faced threats for their reporting. This three-ring circus is what the office of the president has been turned into, folks.
Can anyone even begin to imagine what would have happened if President Obama had posted a similar video???
It is crude and crass and diminishes the respect of the office, to be sure. But equally alarming is the stage it sets for Trump, his minions in the White House, and worst of all, his supporters, to further attempt to denigrate the press, tarnish their legitimacy, and promote violence against reporters who are trying to do their job. In recent weeks, there have been a number of slaps-in-the-face to the press, starting with disallowing audio and video recordings of White House press briefings. This latest is a blatant attempt to discredit the press, and encourages those who would incite violence.
CNN issued the following statement:
“It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the President had never done so. Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”
A director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said, “Charged rhetoric online undermines the media in the US and emboldens autocratic leaders around the world”. And one of the most legendary media figures, Carl Bernstein, said “It’s just not anti-CNN, it’s anti-freedom of the press.”
Homeland Security advisor Tom Bossert dismissed the idea that the tweet might be a threat, while he praised the president for “genuine” communication. “No one would perceive that as a threat; I hope they don’t.” Perhaps he has forgotten about the incident in May when then-candidate Greg Gianforte physically beat up a Guardian reporter the day before the election – and was elected in spite of his vicious behaviour! And certainly he has forgotten the mentality of a large portion of Trump supporters who are energized by his cheap, trashy talk.
Trump most certainly DOES incite violence with his ill-chosen rhetoric, and he is obstructing the press from doing their jobs, though I have no doubt that they will continue to do their jobs, perhaps even more diligently now, while learning to tune out the head clown in this circus.
Past presidents have been critiqued by the press, and every single one has been frustrated from time to time with the press. However, past presidents learned to work with the press, not against them. Nixon, Bush, Clinton, and even Thomas Jefferson railed against the press on occasion, but none have ever taken it to the degree that Trump has, none have ever crossed the line that begins the destruction of a free press. Mr. Trump has repeatedly denigrated various members of the press in very personal, vicious and crass ways. Take, for example, his tweets last week against the hosts of Morning Joe:
I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..
…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!
At least three Republican senators spoke out against these tweets:
Lindsey Graham: “Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.”
Ben Sasse: “Please just stop. This isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.”
Susan Collins: “This has to stop – we all have a job – 3 branches of gov’t and media. We don’t have to get along, but we must show respect and civility.”
The time has come to put an end to this madness … the circus train has gone off its tracks and is rolling down a very steep, dangerous mountainside, threatening to wipe out the homes of freedom, respectability, sanity and life itself in the U.S. I call on every member of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, to do the right thing and start impeachment proceedings immediately, before the circus train becomes even more out of control. We The People cannot stand for any more of the moronic behaviour coming out of the White House, and as long as the head clown is driving the train, it will never stop. And I call on those who have chosen to bury their heads in the sand, who think “this too shall pass”, to wake up, for by your silence, you are helping to allow this to become our ‘new normal’. We have lost our good standing in too many nations around the globe already, but now we stand to lose the one institution that stands a chance to protect us from the evil within: the free press. WAKE UP CONGRESS!!!