How Far Is Too Far?

No president in modern times has escaped the criticism of the press.  It is a fact of life that if the press are doing their jobs, they will inevitably frustrate and even anger the president from time to time.  Most presidents, however, respect the Fourth Estate, realize that what they are doing is precisely what they are supposed to do, and try to work with them. Such is not the case with Donald Trump.

He has denigrated the legitimate press since long before he won the election, and has taken his press-bashing to new highs since taking office nearly a year ago.  But last week, he crossed yet another line of propriety.  His plan is to have a “Fake News Awards” presentation.

 “I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!” – 8:05 PM – Jan 2, 2018

Apparently something came up that delayed his plans, possibly his feud on Sunday with the Wall Street Journal …

“The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!” – 3:35 PM – 7 Jan 2018

fake news awards.jpgCan you imagine President Obama, or even President Bush speaking in this manner? Now, obviously this is not only poor form and poor taste, but is so beneath the dignity of the Oval Office, the office of the president, that we must ask ourselves if his advisors were even consulted. Surely John Kelly could not have condoned this idiocy?

Even as far back as Thomas Jefferson, presidents have had complaints about the press. In fact, according to a February 17, 2017 Washington Post article …

Jefferson-free-press“Thomas Jefferson was as irritated with newspaper coverage as any public figure of his era. For all the talk of media bias today, it can’t compare to the overt partisanship and personal attacks appearing in papers in our nation’s early years. But Jefferson also knew that our democracy could only flourish with a free press that would keep an eye on people in power and help protect our freedoms. He understood that press coverage comes and goes, but freedom of the press must endure.” – Ken Paulson, president of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center

Trump, on the other hand, has criticized the legitimate media since the day he threw his hat in the ring in June 2015, and I don’t think a single day has passed that we have not had to hear his cries of “fake news”, “lying press”, and worse.  He even went so far as to label the press “the enemy of the American people”. He has threatened on more than one occasion to ‘strengthen’ libel laws to keep the press from insulting him.  And this would all be a big joke, except …

Some people actually believe him.  He cavorts freely with Fox News and Breitbart, both homes of the conspiracy theorists, while shouting loudly about the ‘failing’ New York Times, and the ‘Amazon/Washington Post’.  In October, he called for the revocation of NBC’s broadcast license.  He has trod that fine line of trampling the constitutional right to a free press.  His minions have, more than once, criticized the press, not for getting facts wrong, for that is extremely rare, but for failing to agree with their boss.

The purpose of the press is to keep the public informed and hold those who serve in public office accountable for their actions, accountable to We The People.  Their job is not to be ‘yes-men’, always agreeing with the president.  In my opinion, they have treated him more kindly than I would have, or than I have, for that matter.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), is a non-profit organization that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists around the globe.  They have responded to Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards’ with their own special awards …

From a January 8th Press Release:

CPJ recognizes global Press Oppressors amid Trump’s fake news awards

Acknowledging world leaders who attack and restrict press

New York, January 8, 2018–As U.S. President Donald Trump announces his “Fake Media” awards, the Committee to Protect Journalists names its global Press Oppressors–world leaders who use rhetoric, legal action, and censorship to try to silence their critics. The list features leaders from China, Egypt, Myanmar, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and the United States who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media at a time when a record number of journalists are being jailed for their work.

“It’s staggering to see the extent to which some world leaders are so fearful of their critics and the truth,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch, from Washington, D.C. “At a time when the number of journalists in prison globally is at a record high the failure of President Donald Trump and other leaders to stand up for press freedom risks weakening democracy and human rights.”

The Global Press Oppressors list includes four categories as well as an award for the Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom:

Most Thin-skinned

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Runner-Up: President Donald Trump, United States

Most Outrageous Use of Terror Laws Against the Press

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Runner-Up: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt

Tightest Grip on Media*

President Xi Jinping, China

Runner-Up: President Vladimir Putin, Russia

*This category excludes countries with no independent media, such as North Korea and Eritrea.

Biggest Backslider in Press Freedom

State Counselor and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar

Runner-Up: President Andrzej Duda, Poland

Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom

President Donald Trump, United States

Note to Editors: Copies of the Global Press Oppressors can be viewed at

Are Trump’s “Fake News Awards” legal?  For him, sure, because he has immunity from executive branch ethical standards.  His staff, however, are a different matter.  According to a number of experts, including former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub, and Norm Eisen, former special counsel for ethics for President Barack Obama, if White House staff members were involved, they would be in violation of the executive branch’s Standards of Ethical Conduct.

I do not imagine that there will be any charges levelled at staff members, and I expect Trump’s little ceremony will be a fiasco that will be applauded by his 37% followers.  What I would liketo see happen, what I think absolutely should happen, but won’t, is for the press to boycott Trump’s little ceremony.  Let Fox and Breitbard cover it, and the legitimate media put up a wall of silence.  That would deprive Trump and his little game of any sense of legitimacy, and perhaps he would get the message that We The People are sick and damned tired of him playing elementary school-type games and would like to have an adult in the White House.

I know it won’t happen, for all the news outlets depend on revenue, and “if it bleeds, it leads”, so we will no doubt see this silliness ad nauseam on Wednesday and for the rest of the week.  And yes, I will likely succumb and write another post about it also.  But beware, my friends, for this is just one more step in Trump’s attempt to oppress our free press by convincing his followers that the mainstream media are ‘dishonest’ and ‘lying’, as he has been telling them all along.  Remember … Democracy Dies in Darkness.

In Support Of The 1st Amendment – Senator Ben Sasse

I am finding some things to like in some of the republican members of Congress these past few weeks.  Some of them are beginning to realize how dangerous the man in the Oval Office is, how inappropriate his words and actions are, and how he is sullying the office and all that it stands for.  And they are speaking up and speaking out.  Unfortunately, those who are beginning to realize what is happening are also some of the ones who are declining to run for re-election next year.  Figures.

ben sasse.jpeg

Senator Ben Sasse

I knew very little about Senator Ben Sasse until yesterday, though I had heard the name.  But yesterday, he impressed me … not once, but twice, both times in defense of freedom of the press!  It started when Trump fired off a series of ridiculous tweets claiming he might consider retaliation against NBC for a story they printed that Trump claims to be untrue, and then a general threat against all ‘network news’.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” 9:55 AM – Oct 11, 2017

“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” 8:09 PM – Oct 11, 2017

Ben Sasse responded in tweet with …

“Mr. President: Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment?” 9:03 PM – 11 Oct 2017

I cannot think of a more appropriate response.  Good job, Ben Sasse!

And then came Trump’s appearance on Idiot of the Week Sean Hannity’s program.  Here is a brief excerpt …

Trump: Media is bad. They are really dishonest people. These are very, very dishonest people in many cases, in many cases. And not all. Look, I know some reporters, I know some journalists that are phenomenal people, very straight, very honest. But there’s such dishonesty. I mean, you know, it’s interesting. If I was just watching television, you don’t know whether or not because, you know, you’re just watching a report. But when you’re the one being written about, you know if it’s good or bad and it’s always, they try and make it negative. So, the media — I call it fake media. It is fake. It is so much fake news. And we have to understand —

Hannity: Do you agree with that? Fake news?

Trump: You know, and I only say it, so when people read things, they can understand that so much of it is indeed fake.

After the interview, Hannity apparently saw Senator Sasse’s tweet and responded …

“One of the biggest mistakes in my career was supporting @BenSasse. Just useless,” 10:37 PM – Oct 11, 2017

And Sasse again responds with wisdom and without vitriol …

“Sorry, Sean — you changed, not me. Some of us still believe in the Constitution. No President should play with censoring news they dislike.” 5:29 PM – Oct 12, 2017

Now, I am not a fan of this back-and-forth tweeting.  I think the heavy reliance government leaders place on Twitter as their primary mode of communication is unprofessional and a deterrent to intelligent speech.  However, my point today is that here is a republican senator who is willing to stand for the 1st Amendment right to free speech and a free press, and that impresses me.

A quick trip to Senator Sasse’s Facebook page shows a letter to his constituents dated February 2016 in which he explained to them that he could not, in good conscience, support Donald Trump, and he very soundly stated his reasons.  I could question, of course, where he stood during the vote to repeal and replace ACA, for obviously his was not one of the much-needed ‘nay’ votes.  But for the moment, I will content myself with the fact that he is supporting the press rather than the ‘man’ who is seeking to constrain the voice of the free press, the voice of America.

I have created a new award that I will issue on occasion, when I feel it is deserved, and Senator Ben Sasse is the first recipient of Filosofa’s Golden Thumbs Up Award

golden thumb upPaul Ryan also came out in support of a free press when speaking with a reporter, though he sidestepped mentioning Trump …

“I’m a constitutional conservative. I’m for the First Amendment. I don’t always agree and like what you guys write, but you have a right to do it. And I’m a constitutional conservative, and I’m just going to leave it at that.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s threats to revoke the broadcast licenses of NBC or any other legitimate news outlet are empty threats … at least at this time.  First, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only licenses individual stations, not networks like NBC.  While station licenses can be questioned by community members, it has been more than twenty years since the FCC has refused to renew a broadcast license, and the odds of them doing so now are slim-to-none.

Even so, Trump’s threat must be considered dangerous, for Trump’s new FCC chairman, installed in January, is Ajit Pai, a man who is openly against internet privacy, a strong supporter of Donald Trump, and I do not trust that he might not be willing to tweak a few rules to keep Trump happy.  Interestingly, while criticizing the legitimate, mainstream press, Trump gives conspiracy theorist and purveyor of fake news, Sean Hannity, an interview.  Speaks volumes, don’t you think?

Little Donnie Dark and the Mean Ol’ Press

Ol’ Donnie-boy Trump is talking about maybe stopping the daily White House press briefings.  He was miffed by those who had the unmitigated gall to question him when he changed his story for about the third time regarding his firing of FBI Director James Comey, and said:

“Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”

Well, he didn’t actually say it … he tweeted it.  That seems to be the only form of communication he knows these days.  Speaking of which … have you ever wondered why, every time he signs one of his ‘executive orders’ he has a crowd of people standing around?  I have two possible theories here.  Either they have come to ‘oooohhhh’ and ‘aaaahhhhh’ over the fact that he can actually sign his name, or else they had to help him make his letters.  Apparently he still needs some help …


Trump’s signature on an executive order

But back to the White House press briefings …

Right before the aforementioned tweet, he twitted:

“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!”

Oh for Pete’s sake!  Active president?  Active … destroying the environment, alienating our allies, provoking our antagonists, lying, tweeting endlessly, and tooting his own horn!  He could slow down on all those activities, and maybe, just maybe, he would have time to ensure that what comes out of the mouths of his staff is accurate.  And what does it even mean to “stand at podium with perfect accuracy”?  How can we be expected to pay serious attention to a man who cannot even speak properly?

One article I read suggested that perhaps it is time to end the long-standing tradition of the daily press briefings, given that today’s electronic communications would be a more efficient method for communicating news from within to without.  I heartily and vocally disagree!  First, reporters need to be able to ask questions and receive answers – or, at least get a ‘no comment’, which in itself says a heck of a lot sometimes.  Second, there is benefit to journalists spending some portion of their day in the White House, seeing and sensing activities they would not notice from their newsroom desks.  The press, whether Little Donnie Dark likes it or not, is one of our best means for oversight of the administration, and the current administration damn sure requires oversight!

There is some interesting history about how the daily briefings came into play.  In 1870, Philadelphia Free Press’ social correspondent Emily Briggs argued that what happened at the White House should be public knowledge because taxpayers paid for its upkeep, saying, “When we go to the Executive Mansion, we go to our own house. We recline on our own satin and ebony.”


William “Fatty” Price of the Washington Evening Star was one of the first reporters to ‘work the White House beat’. He started standing outside the gate of the Executive Mansion during Grover Cleveland’s second term and asking visitors leaving the building what their meetings had been about. Shortly thereafter, Cleveland’s first-time private secretary Daniel Lamont (whose job was akin to that of today’s White House Chief of Staff) began the tradition of having a White House aide answer reporters’ questions.


Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt continued the trend of increasing access for reporters. He treated his “newspaper cabinet” to regular direct conversation, typically during his early afternoon shave. In 1902, journalists got their own office in the West Wing. He used favorite correspondents for ‘trial balloon’ stories, with the expectation that he would deny the truth of the story if the reaction was a bad one. (Sound familiar?


Woodrow Wilson

Under Woodrow Wilson, press conferences went from invitation-only gatherings to events open to all reporters. The first official press conference took place shortly after Wilson took office.  His private secretary announced to reporters that the President would “look them in the face and chat with them for a few minutes” at 12:45 p.m. on March 15, 1913. When 125 newspaper staffers showed up, Wilson said, “I did not realize there were so many of you. Your numbers force me to make a speech to you en masse instead of chatting with each of you, as I had hoped to do, and thus getting greater pleasure and personal acquaintance out of this meeting.”

Along the way, President Harding would answer only questions submitted in writing, and President Hoover required all questions to be submitted 24 hours in advance.  Rather limiting, yes?  The most visible president was Franklin D. Roosevelt who often held press conferences twice a week. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s press secretary, James Hagerty was the first to organize televised presidential press conferences, the first on January 31, 1955.


Throughout the years, some presidents have embraced the press briefings, while others found ways to curtail them.  Ronald Reagan’s press secretary James S. Brady, for whom the Briefing Room is named, used to joke that he and Reagan always planned on installing a trap door so reporters who “got out of line” would fall into the swimming pool if he pushed a button on his podium. But ultimately, most have come to the conclusion that having reporters and photographers available on a daily basis to carry their message to the public is more of an asset than a liability.  And then along comes Little Donnie Dark …

press-1Trump has not been a fan of the press, even referring to them as “the enemy of the American people”. In truth, the press are the guardians of American democracy, holding elected officials accountable and defending free speech. Trump’s real nemesis is the truth. By attacking the media, he opens up a new line of attack against facts, his true target. He is, after all, the Gaslighter in Chief. He is trying to confuse the public so that they will not believe inconvenient truths.

So now Trump is considering halting the daily press briefings.  The past week has been the epitome of conflicting alternative truths, proving that this administration cannot even keep their lies straight.  Does the daily briefing have any value anymore, if we cannot believe a single word that comes out of the mouths of Sean Spicer or his assistant, Sarah Huckabee Sanders?  If this administration continues to eschew truth, facts, and transparency as they have done for almost four months now, then we must make a choice.  We must choose between a president who will become an autocrat and rule under the cover of darkness, or we must choose to oust this administration in favour of one that respects the rights of the people to know what their government is doing.

The press is not infallible, but they are our last best hope to maintain the freedoms and the system of government that enables us to write as I am writing today, to walk down the street without fear of harassment, to speak our minds without fear of being imprisoned.

Two Blows Against Freedom of Press/Speech Today

We are all familiar with this image

connection-timed-out-2Technically, what it means is that a server is taking too long to reply to a data request made from another device, typically your computer, cell phone or tablet. The reasons can vary from the wrong IP address being typed in to a hardware problem to a problem with WiFi services.  Typically, if the IP address is valid, it is a temporary problem easily solved by clicking the refresh button or resetting a router.  But today, Turkish people throughout the country are seeing this message and it is not going to be a simple fix.  For today, the Turkish government, i.e. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has blocked Wikipedia from Turkish internet users.

“After technical analysis and legal consideration … an administrative measure has been taken for this website,” the BTK telecoms authority said in a statement on its website. It cited a law that allows it to block access to individual web pages or entire sites for the ‘protection of public order, national security or the wellbeing of the public’.  We are talking about Wikipedia, folks, not a subversive website, not a porn site … an educational, informational site.  Such is the state of freedom of speech and freedom of press in Turkey today.

Meanwhile, across the pond here in our own backyard, there is this:


“EPA wipes its climate change site day before march on Washington. Visitors to the website on Saturday found it was ‘undergoing changes’ to reflect the agency’s ‘new direction’, as thousands protest climate inaction.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s main climate change website is “undergoing changes” to better reflect “the agency’s new direction” under Donald Trump. The announcement, made late Friday evening, left empty what was previously the “official government site” providing “comprehensive information on the issue of climate change and global warming”.

“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency.  We want to eliminate confusion, by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.” – JP Freire, an associate administrator for public affairs

Previously, the website housed data on greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and reports on the effects of climate change and its impact on human health.

While I could go on for thousands of words about my outrage over the EPA and it’s anything-but-protecting-the-environment approach, this post it about freedom of speech and press, so I shall save the EPA commentary for another post.

Yesterday, in the wake of the European Press Prize awards, Peter Preston of The Guardian, wrote a very short piece:

“A final word on the European Press Prize as, awards delivered, a new season begins. The winners were all terrific. Congratulations to your Serbian investigators, young Romanian reporters, digital wizards from Bellingcat. Congratulations to three sensational writers from Stern and Spiegel. (Gosh! the Germans still invest mightily in good journalism). And more than a tip of the cap to Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times (and Guardian and Observer) for his scintillating takes on Brexit.

But one thing that sets these awards apart for me is a sense of danger – for Yavuz Baydar and his Turkish colleagues as democracy closes down, of a Warsaw government running amok and of Hungary’s Orbán defying the whole European idea. The dangers the Serbian winners raised as many marched in Belgrade, fighting for press freedoms lost.

Who can be complacent about Europe, its struggles, its future? When journalists meet, they hear a knocking at the gates.”

Even in the UK, freedom of the press is not what it once was.  There are new laws permitting generalized surveillance, as well as a proposal for a new espionage act that could criminalize journalists and whistleblowers as spies.  Both the UK and the U.S. dropped two points in the past year on the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) World Press Freedom Index in the past year. Even so, I do not see Prime Minister Theresa May approaching dictatorship, as I do in the cases of Erdoğan and Trump.

Earlier this month, Turkey held a vote on a referendum that consolidated significantly more power under Erdoğan.  At the time, Donald Trump called President Erdoğan to offer congratulations. Today, Trump himself is talking about consolidating his own power. In an interview with Fox News that aired Friday night, Trump dismissed the “archaic” rules of the House and Senate — using that word four times — and suggested they needed to be streamlined “for the good of the country.”  A few excerpts:

“We don’t have a lot of closers in politics, and I understand why: It’s a very rough system. It’s an archaic system.”

“You look at the rules of the Senate, even the rules of the House — but the rules of the Senate and 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. And maybe at some point we’re going to have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different.”

“You can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you’re really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules.”

“I think, you know, the filibuster concept is not a good concept to start off with.”

Trump is frustrated with the pace of legislation after 100 days, and his answer is that he wants to change the rules … the very rules that were designed to safeguard against any one individual in government amassing too much power and shifting the foundation of a democracy into one of an autocracy. And it all starts with stifling the voices of the press and of the people.  Today, Trump effectively stifled the voice of what is arguably one of the most important agencies in the federal government, the EPA.  Today Erdoğan stifled the voice of knowledge in his country.  What is the future for these two nations under these authoritarian leaders?  Think about it.

Silence Is Not Golden

I frequently share Hugh Curtler’s posts, as he is among my favourite bloggers – well spoken, intellectual, and his ideas are most always relevant to what is happening in our world. What is happening in our world today is what some of us have feared since the November election: the flow of information from government agencies to the press and the public is being curtailed, shut down, and we must protest this loudly. If you read nothing else today, please take a moment to read this post by Hugh, and if you feel so inclined, pass it along. This needs to be protested loud and clear, for if we are kept in the dark about what our government is doing, if we are kept in the dark about what is happening in our nation, we will soon lose our ability to make choices about our own future.


In the face of the recent shut-down of the E.P.A. (for all intents and purposes) including the directive to all employees to basically keep their collective mouths shut, one must object and do so loudly. I swore I was not going to allow myself to get all riled up by what this man does — after all, we saw this coming, didn’t we? — but the attempt to gag a Federal agency cannot pass unnoticed, especially an agency that can prove the lie that climate change is a Chinese hoax.

In looking for Voltaire’s famous comment about one’s right to speak, I came across an equally pithy and even profound comment that I would like to elaborate upon:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

This is indeed profound and so very timely because it appears as though this Administration is losing no time whatever…

View original post 391 more words

From Turkey To The United States

Just as I had put the finishing touches on my post Trump’s Press Conference – Part II discussing his dissing of the media, along comes another news story from International Business Times (IBT), informing me that Turkey’s President Erdoğan was praising Trump for putting CNN reporter Jim Acosta “in his place”.  I can never complete a story anymore, as once I have written, edited, cleaned and scheduled it, something else hits the fan!

As I have reported on numerous occasions, President Erdoğan is steadily diminishing many of the freedoms that once made Turkey a democratic nation, including freedom of the press. Erdoğan has jailed at least 144 journalists and shuttered or seized control of more than 150 media companies, according to Human Rights Watch.

Turkey is currently a parliamentary democracy, with much of the executive power in the hands of the prime minister, and the role of the president (Erdoğan) being largely ceremonial, at least according to the Constitution.  However, President Erdoğan has recently proposed certain constitutional changes that would transform the government into an executive democracy.  The changes would enable Erdoğan to make all government appointments, take back the leadership of the ruling party, and stay in power until 2029, pending presidential and general elections in 2019, with a maximum of two five-year terms. The proposed amendments would entirely abolish the Office of the Prime Minister.  One that threw up red flags for me is Article 84: The powers of Parliament to scrutinize ministers and hold the government to account are abolished.  And Article 98: The obligation of ministers to answer questions orally in Parliament is abolished.

It is not my intent to give a lesson here on Turkish government, but rather to show what power and the desire for more power can lead to.  Erdoğan, though more intelligent and polished than Trump, shares certain characteristics.  Both are narcissistic, thin-skinned, and have controlling personalities.  In the aftermath of the failed military coup last July, Erdoğan declared a state of emergency and temporarily expanded his powers.  I, and others, still believe, though it has not been proven, that he played a role in staging the coup for this very reason.  Since he cannot keep extending the state of emergency forever, the constitutional changes he proposes will expand the powers and control of his office on a permanent basis.

Under the state of emergency, as mentioned above, he has severely cut into the freedoms of the press, but also freedom of speech in general. In the last six months of the year, the government carried out mass arrests of journalists, closed multiple media outlets, and jailed elected opposition politicians. It dismissed or detained without due process over 100,000 civil servants including teachers, judges and prosecutors, suspended hundreds of nongovernmental groups, and consolidated government control over the courts.

“Instead of building on the cross-party unity opposed to the coup to strengthen democracy, Turkey’s government has opted for a ruthless crackdown on critics and opponents. With hundreds of thousands of people dismissed or detained without due process, an independent media silenced and Kurdish opposition members of parliament in jail, Turkey has been plunged into its worst crisis in a generation,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

How likely are the proposed constitutional changes to be passed?  There is heavy criticism from opposition parties, and constitutional legal experts claim that the changes would result in the Parliament becoming effectively powerless, while the executive president would have controls over the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.  Still, I predict that Erdoğan will have his way sometime this year.

erdogan-trumpSo how does this relate to Trump’s election and our situation in the U.S.?  As I mentioned, Trump and Erdoğan have similar personalities, and view their positions of power much the same.  Trump is playing to a House and Senate with Republican majorities in both.  Currently there is a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, the current composition of which is equally divided with 4 conservative and 4 liberal justices.  There is no doubt that his nominee for that seat will be someone he trusts to share and support his views.  Trump has continually denigrated and threatened all mainstream media outlets.  He has nominated cabinet members whose positions are diametrically opposed to the ongoing commitments of their respective offices.  And the list goes on ….

Does Trump have the power to follow in the path of Erdoğan?  Alone, no.  But supported by a ‘yes-man’ Congress and a Supreme Court whose balance is tipped in favour of his policies, perhaps.  While I think it is highly unlikely that he would, or even could, stage a coup, in a sense he has already manufactured the crisis that he might be able to use to increase the power of his office.  He has divided the people, the citizens of this nation, in a way that has never been done before.  He has told his followers that there are boogey men behind every tree just waiting to make their lives miserable.  He has told them that their lives are already miserable, and that policies such as environmental regulation, equality for LGBT, land and wildlife preservation, will make their lives even more miserable.  Many believe … many hang on his every word and would support his every proposal, as long as he keeps patting them on the head and saying, “there, there … don’t worry … Uncle Donnie will take care of you”.

Thus far, the Republican-dominated Congress has shown no inclination to go against anything Trump desires.  Russia’s involvement in our election, their joy over seeing Trump elected, says much.  If Trump’s brainwashing techniques fail to allow him to increase his own power, I think Putin would be more than willing to help Trump up the ante by staging some sort of an ‘event’ that would convince the public and also the legislators that we need to place a greater degree of control in the hands of the president for the safety of our nation and its citizens.

The first step would be to remove some of the power of the press, and that is what we must all fight against.  We must stay informed, we must make our collective voices heard to support and defend our mainstream media.  We must fight against faux news, reporting it when we find it, pointing out to the masses that it is wrong.  Fortunately, the biggest difference between Turkey and the U.S. is that the majority of Americans actually do not support Trump, as opposed to Turkey, where Erdoğan enjoys a high degree of popularity.  Some of what I have written here is speculative, based on what I have seen happen in other countries under similar circumstances.  But it appears to me that the foundation is being poured for a subsequent power grab by the next president.  I hope I am wrong.

***Note:  I mentioned in the first paragraph that I can never finish a story … after I finished writing this post, an interesting article was published by The Independent, a British online publication, that draws much the same conclusion I have stated here.  Well worth the read!

Trump’s Press Conference – Part II

Yesterday I posted Trump’s Press Conference – Part I, in which I discussed his watered-down plan to combat possible conflict of interest issues stemming from his business interests.  Today I tackle two other topics:  his treatment of the press, using the term “fake news” to refer to any media outlet that disparages him, and the issue of his tax returns. But first, this …

New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof posted this on Facebook yesterday after watching Trump’s news conference:

“One of the things I wondered about during the Trump press conference today was who all those people applauding were. Journalists don’t typically applaud a politician. So now we find out: They were paid aides brought into provide canned applause. Boy, “fake news” seems like yesterday’s news; now we have “fake applause”!”

Given that I did not actually watch the bulk of the event, I talked to a number of people who did, and most agree that it was as if, thinking back to the old days of talk shows (think Johnny Carson’s monologue) somebody was holding up a sign telling them when to clap.  One said that after Trump yelled “FAKE NEWS!”, there was precisely a two-second delay, and then applause.

Trump’s Attack on the Press:

But the subject of today’s post is not fake applause by paid staffers, rather another issue that came up in the new conference that caused me to pause and ponder.  That issue is Trump’s treatment of the press, specifically on this day, BuzzFeed and CNN.  We are all getting used to his disdain for the press, at least for the mainstream media who are trying hard to do their jobs and provide the public with the most accurate possible information.  But there is danger in becoming inured to his denigration of the press and passing it off as “just another Trump-ism”.

“Near the end of the news conference, Mr. Trump got into a shouting match with Jim Acosta of CNN, who tried to press the president-elect into taking a question. “Since you were attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance?” Mr. Acosta asked. To which Mr. Trump replied: “Your organization’s terrible,” and “don’t be rude,” before dismissing the request once and for all: “You are fake news.” (CNN was the first to report that Mr. Trump and President Obama had been briefed by intelligence officials on the uncorroborated documents, but the network did not publish them.)”New York Times, 11 January 2017

During his campaign, Trump rescinded press credentials of journalists from The Washington Post, Politico, the Des Moines Journal, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Univision, the Daily Beast and others because he considered that they had treated him “unfairly” and said “mean” things about him.  Frankly, it is not the job of the press to play nice with politicians or candidates for office.  It is their job to keep We The People informed of the facts.  In July, Trump told Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times, “I’m from a different world, other than politics. In my world, when people don’t treat you fairly … ”

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an American independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, based in New York City, New York with correspondents around the world. CPJ promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists. The American Journalism Review has called the organization “Journalism’s Red Cross”. Founded in 1981 in response to the harassment of Paraguayan journalist Alcibiades Gonzalez Delvalle, its founding honorary chairman was Walter Cronkite. Suffice it to say that they do good work around the globe on behalf of all journalists.  To learn more, visit their website.  In October, Sandra Mims Rowe, CPJ Board Chairperson, issued, in part, the following statement:

“Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy. For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.

Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ’s board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ’s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.”  Full statement can be viewed here  .

When Trump gets into a shouting match with a well-established media outlet, and a highly respected journalist who is merely trying to ask a simple, valid question, it does not bode well for the ongoing relationship between the White House and the press corps.  More than once during his campaign he threatened to sue various media outlets for reporting verified facts.  Remarking that he would “bring more libel suits” against the press, he said “I don’t want to threaten, but I find…the press is unbelievably dishonest.”  He complained about coverage of his campaign and suggested that the US should adopt the UK’s stricter libel laws.  A group of civil liberties lawyers has pledged to represent pro bono anyone Trump sues for exercising his or her expressive rights. (Keep this in mind, fellow-bloggers!!!)

Before letting loose on CNN, Trump unleashed his ire on BuzzFeed, predictably, since it was BuzzFeed that released the document that allegedly ties Trump to a number of Soviet agents and also accuses him of perverse behaviour while in Russia in 2013. “Buzzfeed is a failing pile of garbage and they’re going to suffer the consequences.” BuzzFeed, however, decided to turn his critique into a positive, and quickly developed a product line


Yesterday, the day after Trump’s press conference, BuzzFeed sold more than $25,000 of these t-shirts and plans to donate all proceeds to the Committee to Protect Journalists!  Two thumbs up to BuzzFeed!

We must not stand by silently and watch as our press lose their freedoms under a Trump administration, as we rely on the media to keep us informed.  The mainstream media, admittedly, made some serious mistakes during the 2016 election year, and We The People will pay for those mistakes.  However, it is to be hoped that they learned from them and frankly, without our free press, we as a nation, as a democracy, are doomed to become the next Nazi Germany.  It is right and proper for us to call them out when they make mistakes, but we must never lose sight of what they represent, the role they play in keeping America free.

Trump’s Tax Returns:

Throughout his campaign, Trump has been called upon to release his tax returns, but has steadfastly refused, claiming that they are “under audit”.  The IRS has stated that there is no reason for him not to release his returns for public scrutiny, yet he has remained adamant.  During the press conference, he was asked numerous times about his tax returns and when/if they would be made public.  Finally, Trump simply stated: “I’m not releasing the tax returns because as you know, they’re under audit.”

Okay, same thing he’s been saying, even though it has been proven to be a lame excuse.  But wait … there is more.  Trump decided to clarify his opinion that the electorate is simply too stupid, too brainwashed to CARE about his tax returns!

TRUMP: You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They’re the only who ask.

Reporter: You don’t think the American public is concerned about it

TRUMP: No I don’t think so. I won, when I became president. No, I don’t think they care at all. I don’t think they care at all.  

Make no mistake about this, folks:  he just called us all stupid!  I, for one, want to see his unredacted tax returns, and I want to hear what a competent tax lawyer has to say about them.  I want to know exactly what deductions he has taken, where his businesses are failing or succeeding, by how much, and what his net worth is.  And guess what?  I am intelligent and well educated enough to understand what I see. And anything I don’t understand, I am smart enough to know where to find the answers.  Trump has brainwashed nearly 50% of this nation, but there are still those of us who are smart enough to read a financial disclosure report or a tax return, and we do care! He is in essence saying, “there, there now, don’t you worry your pretty little heads about such things as taxes … Uncle Donnie will take care of you …” and behind our backs he is laughing a deep, BWAH HAH HAH!  And giving us all a big ……..


Candidates running for president are not legally obligated to release their taxes, however there is a long tradition of doing so, in addition to public financial disclosure laws candidates must follow. Since the early 1970s most presidents have chosen to release their returns publicly in order to avoid the appearance of having ‘something to hide’.  According to an informal poll by New York Times writer Ron Wyden, within hours, some 79,000 people responded saying that yes, they care about the tax returns. The reason is simple. Without these returns, Americans cannot know whether he is using the presidency to enrich himself and his family. Americans won’t know whether a policy he proposes primarily benefits steelworkers in Pennsylvania or lines his own pocket. They will also be unable to tell whether Mr. Trump is telling the truth when he claims to have no connections to Russia, contradicting public evidence and statements by his own son. His stated excuse about being under audit doesn’t pass the smell test.

The more Trump refuses, the more convinced I am that he is indeed hiding something, perhaps many things.  His refusal is bad enough, but when he says that We The People don’t care … he’s got it all wrong!

The other thing that is relevant from Trump’s press conference is what I think of at the moment as the “elephant in the room”, the intelligence briefing, those elusive two-pages that summarize what dirt Putin may have on Trump, and the rest, but I will not write about that as yet.  First, my blogger-friend Gronda Morin is doing a great job of staying on top of that story, and second, I am waiting so see if the allegations are verified before I say much more.  So, this post, unless there are further developments, concludes my two-post series on Trump’s press conference.

Guard Our 1st Amendment From Trumps

Although I am merely a blogger, a small-time blogger at that, I try to speak the truth.  I research information, tediously at times, which is why I write 8-10 hours a day and produce little.  If I see a story that piques my curiosity on a lesser-known or extremely partisan site, I go in search of further detail on more reliable sites.  If I don’t find it, I keep the story on my radar, but on the back burner, awaiting better, more reliable verification.  I probably do not need to be this tedious, as only a few read my blog faithfully, but a) I have a compulsion to maintain my integrity, and b) I have no money and cannot afford a lawsuit.  Sometimes I sit on a story because I simply sense there is more, much more, to come, such as is the case with Roger Ailes, who is in line for the IOTW award, but not just yet.

More than once, I have gotten a “fact” wrong.  It happens to the best of us.  I apologize if apropos.  All of us, whether George Will of The Washington Post, Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times, or we of the Blogosphere, respect and cherish the 1st  Amendment of the Constitution that guarantees us the freedom to write what we see, what we think, and what we believe to be true without governmental censure.  It is a right that journalists and even bloggers do not enjoy in all countries.  Think of what has happened in the past year in Turkey, for example.  And if we treasure that right, it is up to all of us to safeguard it.  In large part, by safeguarding, I mean writing responsibly, not simply passing along information because it is interesting, controversial, or appealing to our readers, but verifying facts, refusing to publish falsehoods.

Which brings us to the headline that caught my eye and set me down this path of introspection:

  • Donald Trump’s latest act of media intimidation sets an alarming precedent – The Washington Post, 22 August 2016
  • Melania Trump threatens to sue several news outlets over reports she worked as an escort – Los Angeles Times, 23 August 2016

My initial reaction was that she follows in the footsteps of her husband, planning to sue every time a journalist writes something negative, and, as Trump has threatened, “open up” libel laws and curtail the freedom of the press.  Then I went “in search of …” and found that, while I do not think she has a leg to stand on as regards a lawsuit, I think that irresponsible reporting may have opened a can of worms that was not necessary.  And for what?  To discredit Trump through his family?  Granted, Melania Trump made herself a “public figure” when she spoke at the Republican National Convention on his behalf.  Granted, her entry to the U.S. may be questionable.  And granted, her former career as a nude model is open to speculation. As a public figure, she is subject to more intense scrutiny and somewhat looser reporting standards than the average political family member.  But even so, there are standards of truth, of fact vs. fiction to be upheld.

The story, in short summary, is that apparently a Slovenian magazine, Suzy, published a front page story claiming Melania’s modelling agency in New York also operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients. From there, the Daily Mail, a British tabloid, picked up the story as a part of a bigger story about Melania’s past, albeit with some disclaimers about the veracity of the source.  Still, it left questions unanswered, and the smaller, less reliable and more partisan outlets, including Liberal America, BipartisanReport, and Inquisitr, got on the bandwagon. All three of the small, independent sources have issued retractions or apologies, although at this time the threat of a lawsuit is just that, a threat. Liberal America, a small, independent and extremely partisan on line source had the most interesting apology, starting with, “This is being written under duress because I don’t have enough money to fight a legal battle against the Trump machine.”   You can read the entire ‘apology’ here .

The Washington Post, who noted that the facts are sorely lacking and refused to comment on the veracity of the original story, makes a valid point however:

Trump has vowed to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue media companies that print negative stories about public figures such as himself, even if they are true. Right now, it is difficult for public figures to win libel cases — in the United States anyway. Proving a news outlet got a story wrong is not enough; Trump would have to show that journalists knowingly published a false story or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.

But the point of suing is not always to win. If Trump … is willing to bankroll lawsuits against news outlets — or at least threaten to do so — they could have a chilling effect on the press.

This, then, is the point —  not only to those of us who write, whether for a living or for hobby, but to the general public who rely on being able to hear or read uncensored news every day.

Understand that I have no problem whatsoever with mocking da trumpeter, or even Melania, based on things they have actually said or done. I have, and will continue to critique and criticize Trump for his incessant ignorance, vitriol and bigotry.  I have also made mention, and reserve the right to continue to do so, of Melania and her former career as a nude model.  I stop short, however, of writing as a truism something that I have gleaned from only a Facebook meme without reliable verification.  That is just the standard to which I hold myself, and would do so even without threats of a lawsuit.  Frankly, I long for the day that my blog comes into da trumpeter’s radar and he actually reads one of my snarkier posts about himself!  It is the stuff of my dreams!  And it is a dream I hope I can keep on having, rather than end up as Cam Dündar, jailed for speaking my mind, for speaking the truth.

Even though Donald Trump is unlikely to be the next President of the United States, and Melania is equally unlikely to succeed Michelle Obama, they have opened doors and raised questions about just how far our 1st Amendment rights can go.  Let us guard them as we would a cherished antique, lest they become an antique.

RIP New York Times? Not Likely.

RIP 1st Amendment?  Also Not Likely.


Read the following quote and see if you can guess who said it:

“The media is very unfair. They’re very biased. You look at The New York Times, I mean, the fail — I call it ‘The Failing New York Times’ because it won’t be in business for another, probably more than a few years unless somebody goes in and buys it and wants to lose a lot of money. But The New York Times is so unfair. I mean they write three, four articles about me a day. No matter how good I do on something, they’ll never write good. They don’t write good. They have people over there, like Maggie Haberman and others, they don’t — they don’t write good. They don’t know how to write good.”

BINGO!  You guessed it!  Good job!  Yes, his babbling has become recognizable, hasn’t it?  The New York Times, by the way, has been in business since 1851 and is one of the leading newspapers, both nationally and internationally, with the 2nd largest circulation in the U.S., and has won 117 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization.  Doesn’t sound like they are failing, does it?

Since the July 15th failed coup in Turkey, President Erdoğan has severely curtailed the freedom of the press by shutting down or taking over many media outlets and calling for the arrest of more than 100 journalists.  Now in the U.S. we have a candidate for president who, in February, said “One of the things I’m gonna do, and this is only gonna make it tougher for me, and I’ve never said this before, but one of the things I’m gonna do if I win… is I’m gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re gonna open up those libel laws. With me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people…We’re gonna open up those libel laws, folks, and we’re gonna have people sue you like you never get sued before.” Ah yes, Trump does seem to have an affinity for suing and being sued, doesn’t he? And no, he certainly is not like other people, but he is not above the law, contrary to what he may believe. Since his bizarre statement in February, he has banned nearly a dozen media outlets, including The Washington Post, POLITICO, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Univision and The Des Moines Register, and now is threatening to ban the New York Times from his rallies and events.

The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution plainly states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now Trump seems to think that as president he will have the power to simply negate parts of the United States Constitution he doesn’t like, as though the presidency bestows those powers. It does not. The Constitution is notoriously difficult to amend, and the process is not accomplished by one man’s stroke of the pen.  But, with the situation in Turkey fresh in my mind, and given that both Trump and Erdoğan are both equally thin-skinned and vindictive toward those who criticize them, I began to wonder if a similar thing could happen here in the U.S.  Could a hypothetical President Trump declare a ‘state of emergency’ for some reason, contrived or real, and essentially shut down those media outlets that criticize him?  The New York Times has an interesting article showing how a purge similar to the one in Turkey would look in the U.S.  It is short and well worth the read.

The U.S. Constitution explicitly provides some emergency powers:

  • Congress may authorize the government to call forth the militia to execute the laws, suppress an insurrection or repel an invasion.
  • Congress may authorize the government to suspend consideration of writs of habeas corpus “when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
  • Felony charges may be brought without presentment or grand jury indictment in cases arising “in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.”
  • A state government may engage in war without Congress’s approval if “actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”

Throughout history, there have been attempts to regulate freedom of speech in the U.S.

  • In 1917, Congress passed the Federal Espionage Act. This law prohibited all false statements intending to interfere with the military forces of the country or to promote the success of its enemies. In addition, penalties of up to $10,000 and/or 20 years in prison were established for anyone attempting to obstruct the recruitment of men into the military. In 1918, another law was passed by Congress forbidding any statements expressing disrespect for the U.S. government, the Constitution, the flag, or army and navy uniforms. In the first case to challenge these two laws, Schenck v. United States, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes held that Mr. Schenck was not covered by the First Amendment since freedom of speech was not an absolute right. There were times, Holmes wrote, when the government could legally restrict speech.
  • Another important free-speech case took place after World War II. It was only a few years after thousands of American soldiers had given their lives to defeat Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Arthur Terminiello was speaking before an audience in Chicago. His message was hate. He said that Hitler was right in what he did. He claimed that Democrats, Jews, and communists were all trying to destroy America. Arthur Terminiello was later arrested, tried, and convicted for disturbing the peace with his provocative harangue. Like Charles Schenck 30 years earlier, Terminiello appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, Terminiello v. Chicago, the Supreme Court reversed Terminiello’s conviction. Justice William O. Douglas wrote that “it is only through debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people….” Justice Douglas stated that in a democracy free speech must occur even if it causes disputes, unrest, or “stirs people to anger.” Thus, according to Justice Douglas, “freedom of speech, though not absolute, is protected against censorship or punishment unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance or unrest.”

The National Emergencies Act, enacted September 14, 1976, is a United States federal law passed to stop open-ended states of national emergency and formalize the power of Congress to provide certain checks and balances on the emergency powers of the President. It requires the President to specifically identify the provisions activated and to renew the declaration annually so as to prevent an arbitrarily broad or open-ended emergency. In all such cases, the government must continue to act within the limits of the law and constitution.

duct tape Trump

A Better Idea!

So, could it happen here?  Could a Donald Trump sitting in the White House declare a ‘state of emergency’ and put a proverbial muzzle on the media?  Under normal circumstances, it would seem the answer is “no”, however where Trump treads, circumstances tend to be anything but normal.  His entire campaign has been based on creating fear and unrest … something he has proven to be very good at.  Bottom line, I think that there are enough Constitutional safeguards in place and enough very capable justices on the Supreme Court that a situation similar to that in Turkey is highly unlikely.  Still, the best way to ensure that our Constitution does not get trumpled on is to keep Trump out of the White House!

Little Donnie vs The Big Bad Media

A couple of old sayings come to mind today.  The first is something about ‘not biting the hand that feeds you’.  The second is ‘never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel’ – Mark Twain. And then there’s the one about ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’.  Any and all of these apply today to the not-very-illustrious Donald Trump.  The press has, for the past 11 months, given Donald Trump hundreds, nay thousands of hours of free advertising.  My own belief is the media are the very reason da trumpeter has gone from being known as a silly clown to the republican nominee for the highest office in the nation.  He owes them, because he has not needed to shell out cash for advertisements … every time he opens his mouth, he gets free advertising.  So what does he do?

He bites the hand that feeds him, cuts off his nose to spite his face, insults those who buy ink by the barrel, and accuses the media of ‘making me look very bad’.  WHOA … HOLD THE PRESSES … nobody, I repeat nobody, needed to make Donald Trump look very bad … he is doing a wonderful job of that all by himself!  So what was the occasion this time?  The media actually had the audacity to do some fact-checking and call Donnie on one of his many lies!  Gasp!

trump-press-confThe whole thing started back in January of this year, when Mr. Trump held a televised fund-raiser, the proceeds of which were, he said, going to benefit veterans.  At the end of the day, he said that he had raised more than $6 million and that he himself was giving $1 million. Then just last week, the Washington Post and other media outlets asked Trump and his campaign for details about how much the fundraiser had actually raised and whether Trump had given his portion. When he refused to answer, the media went digging, as was to be expected … it is what the media do best!  But alas … no evidence was found that Trump had donated a single dollar to any veterans group!  After another call from the Post, Trump contacted James K. Kallstrom, chairman of Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, and pledged his $1 million.  Asked why he waited so five months to make the donation, Trump said that he had to check out the charity, but in reality his foundation had donated to this particular charity in the past, and the vice-chairman of the group, coincidentally, is the managing director of one of Trump’s hotels!  What a coincidence, eh?

Even the amount of the donations raised appears to be in question.  Trump declared on the night of the fund-raiser that he had raised $6 million, then this week he claimed $5.5 million, while his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, says it was $4.5 million.  On Tuesday, Trump denied that he ever said $6, even though it was plainly recorded for all to see.  Can anybody who has run businesses, some even successful, possibly be this stupid?  Never mind, don’t answer that.

PinocchioTrump finally did provide a list of organizations that had received donations, saying that most had “gone out some time ago”.  The Associated Press spoke or left messages with each of the organizations Trump named. Of the 30 groups that responded by Tuesday, about half said they had received checks from Trump just last week.  Several said the checks were dated on or about May 24 — the date of Trump’s interview with the Post — and shipped out overnight. So, the little boy who got caught in a tangled web of his own making, scrambled to untangle himself.  I just wonder, had the media not persevered, would he have ever made the donations, and if so, when?

All that aside, however, since we are, after all, accustomed by now to Donnie’s many fabrications and exaggerations, on Tuesday Mr. Trump held a press conference whereby he spent the majority of his 40 minutes lambasting those who had basically handed him the nomination just a few short weeks ago.  He chomped right down on the hand that had been feeding him, and methinks he is going to live to regret that one!  Until now, the media as a whole had done very little to dispute his lies, but I think that from this point forward we will be seeing a change in that attitude.  Trump referred to the media as “very dishonest” … and if you can tolerate yet another old saying, I see that as the ‘pot calling the kettle ….’.  Trump said: “The press should be ashamed of themselves. Veterans are calling me, and they are furious.  You make me look very bad.” He referred to reporters in general as ‘dishonest’ and to a specific ABC reporter as ‘a sleaze’.  Once again, the man certainly knows how to win friends and influence people, doesn’t he?

Although Trump claims that the reason behind his secrecy and reluctance to release a funds distribution list was that he preferred to make the donations anonymously, in the next breath he bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t being properly thanked for his ‘generosity’.

I forced myself to watch some 25 minutes of Trump’s press conference in preparation for this post.  All I saw was a man tooting his own horn, reiterating how wonderful he is for raising all this money, and how unfairly he felt the press was treating him.  By what … simply doing their job and checking his facts, holding him accountable?  One thing I noticed … four of his minions were standing behind him throughout the conference, and every time he made a critical remark, all four looked and one another and snickered.  Yes, they snickered like a group of high school kids.  Donald Trump’s campaign is built on a foundation of lies, bigotry, and self-promotion, and it has brought politics in this nation to an all-time low level of maturity.

Trump has made an enemy of the media, and they are indeed a powerful enemy.  I think, at least I hope, that the free pass he has enjoyed for the past year has finally expired, and that from this point forward he will be held accountable for the words that tumble from his mouth. Though I frequently rail at the media for their tendency toward sensationalism, and I still hold them responsible for Trump’s rise over the past year, it is times like this that I am glad our media have the freedom to do what they do, to investigate and call people on their untruths.  Let us never lose sight of the value in that, and let us never make choices that will impinge upon the freedom of the press.