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.”