We’ve all seen it many times by now. A few days ago, 45 hopped on Twitter, as is his wont, and dropped another TweetBomb. He spewed forth, “The fake news media, failing New York Times, NBC, CBS, CNN, is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people.” These words cannot be mistaken for anything other than demagogic language intended to envenom news organizations by turning the American people against them.
Some folks say 45’s attacks on the are simply distractions and that we should focus more on his actions. That’s certainly a valid argument, but some of his actions are about the media, including appointing aides who condemn the press, holding news conferences to complain about the media for 77 minutes, and then composing tweets in response to what he sees on TV. Those are his actions, and they matter.
His words matter, too. They inspire many people, as evidenced by the fact that he won the election. But his words instill fear in many others as they reveal his authoritarian tendencies and serve to play to his base, thereby further dividing the country, scaring the hell out of our allies, and inviting comparisons to monsters like Hitler and Stalin.
45 says that the news is fake and then leaves it there, offering no details or supporting evidence. What about the news is fake, sir? To which stories are you referring? From all appearances, “fake news” is simply any story that he doesn’t like. If he approves of the story, he has absolutely no problem crowing about it on Twitter, but if he doesn’t, well, he easily slips into bully mode. The problem is this: he can’t have it both ways. The truth is that 45 is the world’s leading producer of “fake news.” He’s quickly moving up the rankings in strawman production as well.
Many people have compared the conduct of 45 to that of 37, Richard Nixon. This an accurate comparison in that both had a disdain for the press, but Nixon’s venom was largely reserved for private discussions. In one recording, he said – three times – that the “press is the enemy,” but from the context of the discussion, it’s clear that he was referring to them as an enemy of the administration.
45, on the other hand, is taking it much further by declaring the press to be the “enemy of the American people.” In this way, and in the fact that it is public and vicious, 45’s conduct has been markedly worse. When your behavior as president is worse than Richard Nixon’s, you need to seriously re-examine your life. 45, however, is incapable of such introspection.
Today, in what is already becoming a regular occurrence, Vice President Mike Pence was sent out to clean up 45’s mess by saying that he and 45 “strongly support a free and independent press.” This should not be necessary, but with this mentally unstable president, it is. As with so many other things in this “administration,” this is not normal.
The press is simply doing their job. They are reporting on what the president and his people are doing, and I would suggest to them that if don’t want so much negative press, they should quit making so many amateur mistakes. Their wounds are almost entirely self-inflicted.
The press are not the enemies of the American people. In truth, they are the last line of defense against a dictatorial, authoritarian, bullying president. In his behavior and words, 45 is proving to be the real “enemy of the people.”