Trump’s Plan to Destroy the News (and Judiciary): Part 3
“Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk”
Many of the predictions I made in Part One and Part Two of this series (linked at bottom) have now come to fruition: certain reporters and entire networks are being told their access will be restricted or removed; certain networks are being told they are “fake news”; alt-right news sites with ties to White Nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism are being given front row seats at press conferences; enemies are being named and mocked, even if they are sitting Senators; and companies are being targeted publicly by Trump and his administration.
Expect this kind of behavior to continue because it is, largely, successful in the eyes of the administration and Trump’s rabid supporters who are more than willing to harass and target anyone the President names.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the building blocks of Trump’s media strategy are well-organized, laser-focused and should not be dismissed:
- Trump prioritizes criticizing the Press and/or Judiciary, going so far as to label them “the enemy of the American people”. He then repeats that claim as often as he can and to as many people as possible.
- The claim — regardless of its merit — is repeated by the Press on every medium and at every opportunity. That only provides Trump more free airtime and gives his baseless claims more power.
- Trump’s most ardent supporters defend the falsehood as being undeniable and entrench themselves that much further the more the false claims are discussed by the Press.
- Trump then names individuals, groups or companies that he wishes to target. Trump’s legion of trolls jump to target those individuals, groups or companies with hate speech via twitter, email, telephone and in person. Sometimes, death threats are made. Extra protection is sometimes required for those who are targeted.
- Once delegitimized, Team Trump can then create their own news narrative. That narrative is, per Trump’s long-standing practice, full of unprovable bests and firsts, like claiming “There’s never been a Presidency that’s done so much in such a short period of time.”
One question that’s worth asking is obvious: why do all of this in the first place? What’s the endgame? Why work so diligently to dismantle trust in one of the three branches of government and what’s known as “The Fourth Estate”? The answer is simple:
Marginalizing or outright silencing of other branches of the federal government and/or the press allows for The Executive to consolidate more power and then use that as he pleases.
What’s unusual in this installment is that members of Trump’s own party, cabinet, appointees and preferred news network are becoming aware of the administration’s master plan, recognize that it is dangerous, and are risking their reputations to confront the President publicly on his agenda.
Feb 3rd: Judge James Robart, a 9th circuit Judge appointed by George W. Bush, places a restraining order on The President’s highly-controversial Executive Order regarding immigration.
Feb 4th: In response, Trump mocks the judge in a tweet, calling him a “so-called judge”. The next day, Trump directs people to blame the judge and the entire court system if anything bad happens to America as a result. Robart was soon targeted online with death threats.
Feb 9th: A unanimous, 3–0 decision from the 9th circuit rules against Trump’s executive order rendering it void. In response, Trump tweets in all caps “SEE YOU IN COURT” because, it is theorized, court is where Americans usually get to see judges.
Feb 9th: In a meeting with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch says Trump’s tweets on the Judiciary are “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” The Judge’s spokesperson confirmed the remarks.
Feb 9th: Upon hearing what Gorsuch said, Trump attacked Senator Blumenthal in a tweet.
Feb 16th: Trump delivered a bizarre 77-minute Press Conference, during which he:
- Claimed that the Press doesn’t speak for The People but for special interests. He said “The Press has become so dishonest, that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people.”
- Claimed without citation that “There’s never been a Presidency that’s done so much in such a short period of time.”
- Praised the “Fox & Friends” show as the best morning show because “they’re honorable people” and then bashed CNN staff, ratings and programs.
- Insulted an orthodox Jewish reporter for his asking about the increasing tide of anti-Semitism in The United States, after not allowing him to finish asking his question.
- Demonstrated not knowing what the “CBC” was after a black reporter asked if they’d be invited to meet with him to discuss his inner-city agenda. When the reporter clarified that she was referring to the Congressional Black Caucus, Trump asked if she could set up a meeting between them because — presumably, as a black woman — she must know other Black people, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
- Confirmed that there were leaks coming from his administration but that the reporting on them, somehow, was fake. “The leaks are real. You’re the one who wrote about them and reported them. The leaks are real. The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”
Feb 16th: in response to Trump’s troubling Presser, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith defends the press for asking the President if his campaign colluded with Russia saying “We demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people.”
Feb 17th: Trump tweets that fake news — which he equates to everyone but Fox — is “the enemy of the American People!”
Feb 18th: Trump holds a political rally in Florida. During his speech to supporters he accuses the Press of having no sources, of being a part of a corrupt system and of not wanting to report the truth. “When the media lies to the people, I will never, ever, let them get away with it. I will do whatever I can that they don’t get away with it. They have their own agenda and their agenda is not your agenda.”
Feb 19th: Republican Senator John McCain, responding to Trump’s criticism of the Press says ”If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”
Feb 19th: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham responding to Trump’s criticism of the Press and the Judiciary says “The backbone of democracy is a free press and an independent judiciary. And they are worth fighting and dying for.”
Feb 19th: Fox News anchor Chris Wallace responds to Trump’s attack on the press by warning viewers on Trump’s favorite morning show. “Look, we’re big boys. We criticize presidents. They want to criticize us back, that’s fine. But when he said that the fake news media is not my enemy, it’s the enemy of the American people, I believe that crosses an important line.”
Feb 19th: While interviewing White House Chief of Staff Rience Priebus — Wallace pushed back Priebus saying, “You don’t get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time, but I got to say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people.” Wallace also reminded Priebus that we don’t have State Run media in The United States.
Feb 19th: Wallace later interviewed Rush Limbaugh on his program and asked him if he thought calling the Press the enemy of the American people went too far. Limbaugh triangulated disagreeing with Trump to becoming his enemy and, therefore, the enemy of the American people: “I think that there’s something to it. Enemy of the people, enemy of the state, they are enemies of Trump. And Trump won the election.”
Feb 19th: Defence Secretary Mattis breaks with Trump saying the press is not the enemy of the American People but, rather, “a constituency we deal with”. He also said “I have no issues with the press, myself.”
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