Attacks on Free Press & Fox News Trump Deception Hurting America….
My comments on the Fox News Trump assault on truths are further on down, but first we start with our American President engaging in an all-out assault on the First Amendment. The scary part is millions of befuddled conservative Trumpeters are swallowing this toxic soup. Trump just tweeted more attacks on the media, which he always calls fake not because they’re telling falsehoods, but because Trump himself disagrees with them. See trump-threatens-to-remove-
The tweet was standard fare for Trump in some respects. The president has repeatedly decried that much of his media coverage is negative, and he’s repeatedly threatened to curtail the free press — in this case, by taking away outlets’ credentials to cover him, but in the past by publicly flirting with the idea of restricting the First Amendment. He’s also banned outlets from his rallies and press briefings. But there was also a major tell in Trump’s tweet. Perhaps more explicitly than he ever has before, by writing “negative (Fake),” the president made explicitly that he considers all negative coverage of him to be fake. It’s possible that Trump is conditioning his supporters to dismiss future revelations about Cohen and his connections with Russia. During an interview with Anderson Cooper, the attorney who broke the news on Tuesday evening about the $500,000 payments to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, raised the possibility that some of the Russian money may ultimately have been funneled through Cohen to the Trump Organization. Meanwhile, over on Trump’s favorite network — Fox News — the Cohen revelations were completely blacked out throughout primetime. It remains unclear exactly what evidence is in the FBI’s possession following the raid on Cohen’s office last month. Trump, who talked with Cohen after the raid, presumably has a better idea.
On that same topic of this unrelenting assault on freedom of the press, we see these excerpts from Trump-Threatens-to-Take-A
Reporters Without Borders publishes an annual World Press Freedom Index. The most recent study reported that the United States fell to 45th place, a new low. Much of that decline was attributed explicitly to Donald Trump, whose open hostility to the media has been a core component of his presidency. Continuing to push forward with his aggressively anti-First Amendment agenda, Trump took to his official presidential policy platform – Twitter – and posted a comment that is a further demonstration of just how extreme his hatred of the free press is. This tweet should frighten all Americans who value constitutional principles and the indispensable role the press plays in democracy:
The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?
There is so much wrong with that tweet that it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, the economy has been expanding for nearly ten years, and that expansion began near the beginning of President Obama’s first term. Contrary to Trump’s claim, for which he provides no factual support, the economy has largely stalled as of late. The Dow Jones is down year-to-date. And Trump has been undeservedly taking credit for an economy whose performance has trailed that of Obama’s. Secondly, Trump’s reference to network news being ninety-one percent negative about him was likely taken from Sean Hannity’s program last night. Hannity reported that statistic based on a dubious study by the ultra-rightist media watchdogs at NewsBusters. And he wrapped the biased data in the same package as Trump, fretting about his negative coverage despite the utopia he’s supposedly presiding over. This is another example of Hannity serving as a close advisor to this fumbling president.
But the most troubling part of Trump’s tweet is his threat to revoke press credentials for any media that fails to exalt the Dear Leader. Trump has long pined for a submissive press corps that only celebrates his every word and deed. This isn’t the first (or twentieth) time that Trump has attempted to punish the press by banishing them from the White House or worse, challenge their licenses. The fact that Trump repeatedly takes this censorious position is evidence that it isn’t just an offhand remark that he doesn’t mean literally. He is deadly serious about his intention to gag any media that dares to criticize him. And in advance of that he has been avoiding any independent media for most of the last year. He’s only held one solo news conference (February 2017, just after the inauguration) during his entire presidency. And he hasn’t given an interview to a non-friendly (i.e. Fox News) outlet in the past year. What’s he afraid of?
The World Press Freedom study noticed these disturbing trends for American journalism. They addressed them specifically in their report as reasons for downgrading the U.S. position:
“In 2017, the 45th President of the United States helped sink the country to 45th place by labeling the press an ‘enemy of the American people’ in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, attempts to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routine use of the term ‘fake news’ in retaliation for critical reporting, and calling for media outlets’ broadcasting licenses to be revoked.”
The American people need to be alert with regard to the threat that Trump represents to the freedom of the press and the sustainability of democracy. These are not idle threats made as political rhetoric. They are dangerous challenges made by a wannabe dictator who truly believes he has the right to muzzle the media and mislead the people. We the people cannot let that happen.
The President’s dictatorial intentions are clear: extend-trump-presidency-indian
Italy, Poland, Hungary and even Spain: European democracy is in shambles. Critical threats to democracy have also surfaced in countries like Turkey, Brazil and the Philippines. Under President Trump’s “America First” orientation, leaders with authoritarian tendencies in places as disparate as Egypt, Honduras, Russia and Venezuela have trampled their political opponents without concern for anything more harmful than a tongue lashing from the United States. Why do democracies backslide toward authoritarianism? Many scholars point to the worrisome erosion of democratic norms rooted in a social consensus about the rules of the game and civility toward fellow citizens.
We’re even seeing the way Trump has corrupted the GOP to the point they’re willing to follow their leader into abusing the rule of law: trump-republicans-mueller-come
This is the same Putin, it is needless to say, who brazenly flouted international law by seizing Crimea, continues to wage war in eastern Ukraine, and has used the power of the Internet to sow confusion and chaos within Western democracies. Yet none of this seems to bother his international fan club. If anything, his bad behavior merely intensifies their admiration. (Ironically enough, this is happening even as there are signs his popularity at home is starting to dwindle.) Putin-mania draws on several powerful trends in modern politics. The 21st century — with its economic crises, growing income inequality, and contentious culture wars — hasn’t been kind to liberal democracy. It has revealed a latent authoritarian potential even in some of the world’s most open-minded societies.
Putin, who has now been in power for 18 years, is the strongman par excellence — and that, apparently, has an appeal that cuts across party lines. Europeans breathed a sigh of relief when centrist Emmanuel Macron won last year’s French election, but most analyses overlooked the fact that all three of his challengers — the far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen; Francois Fillon, a Christian conservative; and Jean-Luc Melenchon, a former Trotskyite — were unabashedly pro-Putin. (In the first round of voting, they combined to win more than twice the vote than Macron did.) In Germany, Putin’s most outspoken fans include both the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the socialist Left Party.
As the leader of a revisionist power, Putin embodies the politics of grievance. The former KGB officer has cast himself as a defender of traditional Christianity, a hard-liner on gay rights, and a pugnacious nationalist. His ill-disguised contempt for the European Union and its liberal immigration policies thrills nativists such as Le Pen, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and Milos Zeman, the president of the Czech Republic. Last year, Zeman waved a toy Kalashnikov with the words “at journalists” at a press conference — a thoroughly Putin-worthy gesture. (Russia, it should be noted, is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters.)
And, of course, President Trump — the man with the inexplicable Putin infatuation — has notoriously celebrated the Russian president as a “strong leader.” And members of the Republican Party are faithfully following his lead. A poll last year found that 49 percent of Trump supporters believed Russia to be either a friend or an ally of the United States — despite a growing amount of evidence the Kremlin interfered in American politics. Last year, during the furor over Roy Moore, a Senate candidate from Alabama, one Republican official declared: “If I’ve got a choice of putting my welfare into the hands of Putin or The Washington Post, Putin wins every time.” Putin is the avatar of tribalism.
Fox News Trump Pact With The Devil
I truly believe I’m doing Trumpeters a favor, at least the ones who check out my commentaries, because when Trump goes down, they won’t be as shocked by it! If all they ever hear is sinister echo drivel, that audience is being shielded from the facts (see fox-news-michael-cohen-russia-
The Fox evil lies have infiltrated nearly all their shows, & it’s despicable the way their programming has been given over to the dark side: fox-news-tells-seth-richs-
Subtle changes have happened so gradually, it’s hard to notice on a day-to-day basis living inside the Fox/echo bubble. But the effects of the echo are very evident when we examine conventional conservative thought presently compared to just a decade ago. The universal mindset among conservatives has gone from rational, pragmatic, patriotic conservatism to irrational, radicalized, anti-American zealots. Who’d have thought following the Fox News Trump echo associations ping into their crazy rabbit holes would have resulted in conservatives losing their common sense along with their patriotism, but that’s what we’re currently seeing.
Just some examples, who’d have ever thought conservatives would gain so much admiration, support & in some cases even praise for thuggish ruthless dictators like Putin. Or that conservatives would be fine with shunning diplomacy & retreat from world leadership, letting enemy states & terrorist organizations grow in stature & influence. Or that rightwing beliefs would actually fall for the unwarranted attacks on the so-called deep state, where the demonization of the DOJ/FBI has impugned the reputations of civil servants sworn to uphold the rule of law, as they perform vital roles protecting the safety & security of all Americans. And who could have ever foreseen conservatives embracing the Fox News Trump version of reality & human values, featuring dishonesty, bullying, bitter pisiveness & gaslighting the truth till it’s unrecognizable: keep-america-great-trump-
Among those inside Fox News Trump world, I’d like to nominate into the knuckleheads hall of fame those who are truly deserving. We find the hopelessly corrupt Devin Nunes breaking long-established protocol by demanding evidence be turned over from an ongoing DOJ special counsel investigation, & then, from which has been his pattern, to commit obstruction by turning over what he knows to the White House, being a loyal stooge helping to cover up Trump’s nefarious activities from being exposed: nunes-disregards-inte
And no knuckleheads hall of fame could ever be complete without inducting Hannity. He’s despicable in every way: fat_cat_hannity_soaking_
As I’ve been predicting all along, dozens of Trump’s minions will be caught up in Mueller’s net when all the evidence comes out. This probe is much more far-reaching than we ever realized, which is why it’s going to take awhile longer to dig up all the facts. And not just Mueller, but the evidence from the Cohen documents being reviewed by the FBI in the southern district of NY could hold serious legal implications for Hannity & others, including the prez. That’s why bombarding their fans with lies about Mueller, Rosenstein & anyone else connected to the probe they can smear, is nothing more than a plan to win the political argument with their base, since I highly suspect the legal battle will soon be lost. That probably helps explain why Hannity’s deranged rants have gone more ballistic & disingenuous than ever on his show. The lies on Hannity’s show were once subtle & interspersed throughout the hour. Now that hour every weeknight on Fox has entirely become the wall-to-wall nutball rants of a genuine lunatic. The one & only time the truth was told on that show lately was when Rudy admitted Trump knew about the Stormy payouts.
Fox was once the voice of rational conservatism. That has definitely changed! Viewers are now allowing themselves to pollute their brains with pure filth, almost like willingly sticking their heads in a meat grinder. Always keep in mind the likes of Hannity, Limbaugh & Alex Jones are not really political commentators in the journalistic sense, but they’re first & foremost entertainers whose shtick is basically being shock jocks, grabbing attention & ratings by stirring controversy & anger. Their outlandish rants & conspiracies should in no way ever be construed with cogent political thinking. If the GOP base keep giving themselves over to the deceitful Fox News Trump echo consortium, the party will soon be toast & our nation in deep trouble. When conventional thought coming from the majority in a major American political party continue to willingly abandon moral virtues, normalize lying & believe blatant falsehoods, also embracing gaslighting as a way to conflate & deny facts, plus display crude attitudes that wall themselves off from the rest of the nation, while stubbornly giving themselves over to untoward demagoguery, America will remain a very polarized nation in a very dark place.
Other interesting articles offering explanations how the GOP base could have been so badly deceived by the echo & made so distrustful of real journalism are here:
And is there hope for restoring net neutrality?: senate-dems-move-to-force-net-
But “Troll Nation” is not about the election of Donald Trump. Amanda and I have certain areas of cheerfully-expressed political disagreement, but I think we share the view that Trump was the culmination of a long process, or is the most visible symptom of a widespread infection. Amanda’s analysis is, as always, calm, sharp-witted and clearly focused on available evidence. American conservatives, she says, used to make rational arguments and used to present a positive social vision. Did those arguments make sense, in the end? Did that “Morning in America” vision of the Reagan years conceal a vibrant undercurrent of bigotry? The answers to those questions — “no” and “yes,” respectively — led us to the current situation, when conservative politics has become almost entirely negative. Sure, there are a handful of “principled” and/or pathetic exceptions. But as John McCain plans his own funeral, Bob Corker books time on the golf course and Paul Ryan designs his Ayn Rand cosplay outfits, most Republicans gleefully embrace incoherent or self-destructive policies designed to punish or horrify people they dislike, whether that means feminists, immigrants, black people, campus “snowflakes,” members of the “liberal elite” or (above all) Hillary Clinton. I am not the world’s biggest fan of Hillary Clinton, as Amanda knows! But what the hell she ever did to all those people to make them despise her so much is entirely unclear. How we got from the supercilious, upper-crust conservatism of William F. Buckley Jr., the dictionary definition of an elitist — the dude could read and write Latin, for God’s sake — to the delusional ignorance of Alex Jones and #Pizzagate, the small-minded hatred of Charlottesville and the unquenchable thirst for “liberal tears” is one of the darkest mysteries of our time. It’s also the story of “Troll Nation.” Amanda joined me recently in New York for a wide-ranging conversation and, trust me, we could have gone on a lot longer.
So the premise of “Troll Nation” is not just about the last couple of years or the election of Donald Trump, although that’s certainly part of the story. It’s more about a much larger question: What happened to American politics?
Because I’m doing a bunch of contemporary journalism, I end up focusing quite a bit on recent politics. But the larger premise of the book is that Trump is not an anomaly. Trump is actually the logical conclusion of a movement in conservatism that’s been going on for decades — fueled by talk radio, Fox News and other such things — that has really kind of reconstructed American conservatism into this ideology, I’d say, of hate and bigotry more than actual political opinions or ideas.
That’s an important point. You say early on that even if American conservatives were enabling and empowering racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry, they wanted to present themselves as the guardians of order and decency.
Yeah, and the traditional family and business friendliness. To be clear, I’m not denying that those aspects don’t exist in the Republican Party or their policies. Absolutely. But I think that arguably, as a political ideology that has collapsed as an argument. Rallying voters around those sorts of arguments has failed, so what they have is this brewing culture of resentment and hatred towards liberals, and also other cultural resentments.
Right. It seems to me like two different strains of the conservative movement have collapsed. One goes all the way back to Edmund Burke or whatever, the idea that you’re going to return to the old order. You’re going to restore some decency and order in society that has been lost — the traditional family, the virtuous life and so on. And the other one is the libertarian economic argument: Everything’s going to be great if we can just get rid of all these taxes and regulations. Both of those currents have essentially collapsed.
Yeah, and both have collapsed into what people, I guess, call Trumpism now. But I really want to emphasize that Donald Trump, I think, is an opportunist who saw himself in what conservatism has become. Because interestingly, as a person — I don’t get into this too deeply in the book because I want it to be about the voters and not just Trump himself. But as a person, decades ago, he wasn’t somebody who saw himself as a Republican. What changed? Well, he’s a bully and an a**hole, and that the party came to him.
You have written about all the nutty conspiracy theories about Clinton over the years, which had to steer around one of the primary motivating factors, which was that many conservatives were uncomfortable with powerful, intelligent women. They had to cherry-pick all these other crazy ideas in order to avoid that.
Exactly. Especially the notion that she was a criminal, right? Which was a way to express the emotional argument that there’s something unnatural or deviant about her. I think that that’s a very good example of what is driving this larger trend. Conspiracy theories are a huge part of what I’m writing about, because I do think that this kind of rhetoric ends up leading to authoritarianism and fascism, because so much of what is motivating conservatives now is just this sense that liberals deserve punishment and deserve to be attacked as liberals, not just argued with as people who have different opinions.