Trump Blames Media For His Own Divisive Rhetoric and Lies

It must be rewarding for a person who believes they can do no wrong to stand in front of an audience of ‘acolytes’ and cast aspersion and blame for all the nation’s woes on everyone else, it is a typically Republican tactic. Of course no Republican alive has set themselves up on a pedestal of perfection more so than Trump, but that isn’t news to anyone keeping track of his constant criticism of everyone for his own monumentally disastrous administration.

In keeping with a persistent blame game by Republicans and all manner of conservatives, Trump blamed the division among the populace on anyone but himself or his Party’s decades of incitement against “the other.

Republicans spent quite a few years inciting animus towards the poor that Ronald Reagan portrayed as taking everything away from “good Americans,” and George W. Bush successfully incited enmity against Americans that failed to support his ill-advised invasion of Iraq to great effect and to cause more division. And, when Republicans’ outrage over Americans electing an African American man as president boiled over in a “them” (African Americans) against “us” (real white Americans), the GOP accused Barack Obama of being divisive; never mind that what made him divisive in Republican circles was being Black while President and calling for equal rights for all Americans.

Now that Trump is in the midst of a nationwide campaign to rally his white supremacist devotees to defend his divisive rhetoric and support fascism, he is blaming the media for causing division among the population. And that blame is yet another cause for concern among those who earn their living reporting accurately every word Trump spews; whether it is one of his daily lies or his divisive rhetoric and praise for his white supremacist zealots.

As is typical for Trump, he accused the media of “misrepresenting” what he insisted was his prompt, unequivocal condemnation of bigotry and hatred after the violence in Charlottesville Virginia. Most Americans, except his most fervent defenders, are well aware that Trump was prompt in blaming “both sides” for the violence in his initial remarks. And after being pressured by his staff to call out his white supremacist supporters, the next day he portrayed the violent white supremacists and Nazis as “fine people.” Each of those remarks were well-documented and each prompted intense criticism, including from fellow Republican leaders for equating violent hate groups with protesters who came out to oppose hate groups and Nazi fascism.

In what was likely a high point for Trump’s Phoenix rally, he unleashed “an angry, unbridled and unscripted performance” on par with his ugliest rallies of his last presidential campaign and his purpose was crystal clear; “deflect the anger toward him against the media.”

He claimed that it is the media, not his past year-and-a-half’s worth of hateful rhetoric that is responsible for “deepening divisions” in the nation. It is noteworthy to reiterate that Trump began his campaign attempting to divide the population and there is no group, save the religious white right, that has escaped his divisive rhetoric.

Trump continued on a theme that began the first time the media reported exactly what he said; the media is fake, crooked, sick, and very dishonest. He said:

It’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions. They’re very dishonest people.” And:

The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news.”

To prove that he is still portraying opposition to Nazis and white supremacy as a justifiable reason for violence, Trump accused the media of failing  “to focus on anarchists” he claimed showed up ready for battle wearing “helmets and the black masks — Antifa.”

As a brief aside; since when are Americans who protest against white supremacists and Nazis “anarchists?” And when did opposing fascism become a bad thing or warrant criticism from the man in the White House who is supposed to defend democracy? The answer to both questions is when Trump gained national prominence and pledged to make “his” America great.

Trump also emboldened white supremacists and neo-Confederates when he accused the news media of “trying to take away our history and our heritage.”  It is a direct reference to the raging debate over removing statues of Confederate traitors to the United States. Trump knows, like his hate-driven supporters, that the media has nothing whatsoever to do with “removing statues” or “taking away” anybody’s heritage. The media simply reports on the debate. Some outlets have actually reported on the history behind the Confederacy and the white supremacists responsible for erecting monuments to slavery and America’s bloodiest war.

Taking up a tactic he used to great effect during last year’s campaign, Trump repeatedly pointed to cameras in the convention center and “whipped the crowd into fevered chants of ‘CNN sucks.’” As was the case during his campaign last year, Trump’s incitement against the media prompted his audience to “shout epithets at reporters” and demand that the media stop doing its job; what Trump and his acolytes consider “tormenting the president [Trump] with questions about his ties to Russia.

As reported in the New York Times, a favorite target of Trump’s, his angry condemnation of the news media in Phoenix “heightened the fear among journalists that verbal attacks on the profession could lead to physical attacks.” Trump is well-practiced at inciting his crowds with claims the media is the enemy, but his attacks in Phoenix “took even seasoned journalists by surprise.” Not only did Trump label journalists as “sick people,” he questioned whether  journalists are really Americans. He said “I really think they don’t like our country.”

The only people in America guilty of divisiveness are Republicans. For the past year-and-a-half Trump has deliberately incited “his people” to rage against everyone and anyone he deems a valid target. It hasn’t mattered if they are Hispanic, Muslims, atheists, immigrants, gays, Democrats, women, judges, other Republicans, business leaders, or patriotic Americans opposing fascism and Nazis; Trump has portrayed any and everyone who fails to bend to his way of thinking as “an enemy of the people.” And he has singled out the media because their job is reporting every one of Trump’s lies. In the process, the media has revealed that not everyone in America worships Donald J. Trump and that is primarily why Trump calls journalists “sick people” who “don’t like our country.”

Putin And Trump Dangerously Commiserate Over “Hurtful” Media

 

There have been plenty of reports and commentary about how crucial to a functioning democracy a free press is, and although it is the 21st Century the term “media” has replaced “the free press” to include more than just newspapers. Even George W. Bush, often at odds with the media during his tenure as president, said in February last:

I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need the media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”

Whether one liked George W. Bush as president or not, and there are myriad reasons to criticize his administration, he never attacked the media. And in fact, he did pressure Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to “embrace a free press;” in February he warned that his efforts then are being undermined now by Trump’s attacks on the media.

It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”

Today it is actually a worse situation than Mr. Bush commented on four months ago and this weekend at the G20 Summit that was painfully obvious. It was bad enough that Trump disparaged the American intelligence community, real President Barack Obama and the media during a speech in Poland, but a brief exchange between Putin and Trump during their “private” meeting is a clarion call of alarm to American journalists and democracy.

It is unclear if demeaning the press was on the agenda for Trump and Putin’s alleged first one-one-one meeting at the G20 summit, but the subject definitely came up. The two fascists waited until reporters were convened to cover the “meeting” to “trade disparaging comments about the reporters” in the room doing their jobs.

During a scheduled photo op session prior to the highly anticipated private meeting between Trump and his hero Vladimir Putin, the Russian tyrant leaned in to Trump and pointed to the group of journalists in the room, and asked like a Mafia boss:

These are the ones hurting you?”

Trump replied, like a low-level street criminal crying to the Mafia Don:

These are the ones. You’re right about that.

What is unclear is whether or not Putin asked Trump if he wanted “his people” to “make the problem go away;” a prospect that is not remotely out of the realm of possibility.

The brief exchange between the two fascists, Putin and Trump, drew less outcry than expected from journalists, although a few of them did cite what they termed “the troubling media landscape in Moscow.” Now it should be particularly troubling for American journalists that Trump was personally commiserating with the murderous Putin about journalists he agreed were “hurting” him.

In Trump and Putin’s authoritarian worldview, “hurting a corrupt leader” is code for the media doing doing its job reporting the news and events as they happen. The exchange is especially troubling because nearly 60 journalists have been executed in Russia since 1993; including Vladimir Putin’s critics and those reporting on Russia’s storied political corruption.

Although it’s true Trump isn’t yet ordering his minions to start murdering journalists, he is doing the next best thing; calling the American media “the enemy of the people” and claiming any story failing to praise him “fake news.”

Add to that incitement, Trump putting up a doctored video this past week of him beating CNN senseless, and then his punk-ass son sharing a video of Trump shooting down a jet with CNN superimposed on it; a “meme” junior Trump claimed was “one of the best I’ve seen.”

There has already been action on Trump’s behalf by his Nazi supporters who started identifying CNN employees (doxing) so other fascists could harass and intimidate what Trump identified as “enemies of the people,” and issue threats to “hunt down their children” That includes CNN journalists getting death threats. And, as no small number of pundits noted, Trump’s attacks on the media at home and abroad are exactly what other tyrants want to hear to justify their attacks on the press, often murderous attacks.

The president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haas said,

“Potus disparaging abroad of US media dilutes respect for American democracy & gives license to autocrats to crack down on their own media.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd added:

A trashing of the American press corps and Intel community in Eastern Europe of all places. Could Putin have asked for anything more?”

As former President Bush said, “the media is indispensable to democracy,” and that “it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.” Those two comments inform exactly why Donald Trump is waging a seriously dangerous war against a free press and by extension America’s fragile democracy. Like any aspiring fascist tyrant, Trump detests the concept of democracy and he wants to continue abusing his power without criticism, much less reporting.

Although Trump’s attendance at the G20 signaled an end to American leadership in global economics, trade and foreign policy, it did give Americans some insight into how much Trump really is like Vladimir Putin. And if Americans believe it is only a frightening prospect for the media, they haven’t been paying attention to the inhumane conditions in Putin’s authoritarian Russia. But not to worry, at the rate Trump is aspiring to be like Vlad, they are about to experience Russian-style tyranny right here in America.