While the American democracy is already under threat, Trump is hell-bent to attack press freedom which is an essential pillar of a democratic framework.
By Rakesh Raman
Donald Trump’s attack on media continues. After abusing many top journalists and media outlets, Trump’s ire now falls on America’s leading TV journalist Chuck Todd who has called on the press fraternity to speak up against Trump’s constant falsehood.
In his column in The Atlantic on Monday, Todd said that a 50-year campaign of vilification, inspired by Fox News’s Roger Ailes, has left many Americans distrustful of media outlets. Now, he said, journalists need to speak up for their work.
Todd’s piece particularly condemned his Fox News counterparts who behave as Trump toadies in their TV shows. “The trio of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham have attained wealth and power by exploiting the fears of older white people. They are thriving financially by exploiting the very same free-press umbrella they seem determined to undermine,” Todd did not mince his words.
He added that much of the current hand-wringing about this rise in press bashing and delegitimization has been focused on the president, who—as every reporter in America sadly knows—has declared the press the “enemy of the people.”
But, Todd said, like much else in the Trump era, Donald Trump didn’t start this fire; he’s only spread it to a potentially more dangerous place.
“The modern campaign against the American press corps has its roots in the Nixon era. President Richard Nixon’s angry foot soldiers continued his fight against the media even after he left office,” Todd said in his article that infuriated Trump.
Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake NBC News said it’s time for the Press to stop complaining and to start fighting back. Actually Chuck, they’ve been doing that from the day I announced for President. They’ve gone all out, and I WON, and now they’re going CRAZY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
Trump retorted today and used his usual vulgar language against Todd. “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake NBC News said it’s time for the press to stop complaining and to start fighting back. Actually Chuck, they’ve been doing that from the day I announced for President. They’ve gone all out, and I WON, and now they’re going CRAZY!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s Attack on Press Freedom
Trump – who keeps cursing media outlets that carry critical stories exposing his wrongdoings – also has vented out his anger on his bêtes noires The New York Times and The Washington Post.
“They will both be out of business in 7 years!,” Trump said recently, without explaining how he calculated the 7 years that the newspapers will take to go out of business.
He also said that Times and Post quote anonymous sources that in his opinion do not exist. But Trump fails to understand that his opinion has no value in a newspaper’s editorial work.
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Trump – who cannot speak even three straight sentences without telling a lie – keeps saying that media is spreading falsehood against him. But Trump could never substantiate his claims against the truthful American press.
According to The Washington Post, Trump had made 3,001 false or misleading claims in the 466 days of his presidency. In other words, he has told on average 6.5 lies a day.
While the American democracy is already under threat, Trump is hell-bent to attack press freedom which is an essential pillar of a democratic framework. He also threatened to divest journalists of their credentials.
Last year, Trump had threatened to cancel the licenses of news networks because they refused to toe the line that Trump suggests. He frequently threatens individual journalists who inform about his nefarious acts. Recently, for example, Trump attacked CNN anchor Don Lemon calling him the “dumbest man on television!”
Trump likes only those journalists who work as his toadies. Although Trump often says media is dishonest, he has some very good media friends – such as Sean Hannity and fired anchor Bill O’Reilly of Fox News – who support Trump by asking him questions that he wants to answer.
Acting as Trump’s personal spokespersons, they also openly attack all Trump opponents to influence the voters dishonestly. But Trump never called them dishonest. In fact, instead of working as an objective media outfit, Fox TV works as Trump’s own video production house.
While the news reports from highly respected media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC about Trump’s idiosyncrasies are largely correct, he keeps criticizing the media in his usual cheap, vulgar language.
According to Reporters without Borders – an organization which works for the freedom of information – the U.S. press freedom has been under increasing attack during the first year of Trump’s presidency. It adds that Trump has declared the press an “enemy of the American people” in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists.
Trump is largely disturbed by the truthful media reports which inform about Trump-Russia ties that allegedly helped Trump win the 2016 presidential race.
Now special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has entered the White House and he is soon expected to interrogate Trump. Many of Trump’s associates are already in Mueller’s dragnet. In all probability, Trump will soon be indicted.
The chattering classes believe that since Trump does not want his notional base to trust the news stories about Mueller’s investigation, he is raising doubts about the sanctity of newspapers and TV networks that are bringing truth in front of the people at large.
If Mueller’s investigation found that Trump is a culprit, Trump will ask his base not to trust the findings of the investigation which will then be reported aggressively by the journalists.
Trump claims that public opinion has turned strongly against the “Rigged Witch Hunt” and the special counsel Mueller because the public understands that there was no collusion with Russia. The fact is that there is no such “public opinion” that Trump keeps saying. Actually, the American public will never like to have a crook as their President.
As Trump has indicated, it is likely that with his erratic behavior he might try to cancel the licenses of news organizations and take away the credentials of journalists who cover the White House.
It is also believed that he is suffering from an acute mental illness. If that is true, he can order the arrest and imprisonment of journalists under sedition charges.
Of late, over two dozen psychiatrists and psychologists found that Trump is dangerously mentally ill and that he presents a clear danger to the nation.
In a new book titled “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts have assessed the mental state of Trump.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.