“The lying press”
“The failing New York Times”
“The Very bad and dishonest Washington Post”
The quotes above are from the President of the Untied States, Donald Trump. He isn’t attacking ISIS. Or Al Queda. Or North Korea. Or Iran. He isn’t verbally attacking Vladimir Putin or Russia for undermining our most cherished democratic institution, our free and fair elections. No, he is saving all his spite and bile for other Americans and then vomiting it out at them via his Twitter account. Day after day after day after day. Again and again and again.
In his latest tirade he tweeted a meme taken from a professional wrestling match he was involved in (yes, I know, he accuses the mainstream media of being #fakenews with a professional wrestling gif) where his opponent’s head has been replaced by a CNN logo. The implication for Trump, I’m sure, is that he’s a macho, alpha-male who is getting the better of the press and TV news in rough and tumble hand to hand combat. That’s not how many of us see it, however. What we see is an open, authoritarian threat of violence towards one of the traditional checks and counterbalances on executive power. Moreover, it’s an attempt to rile up his rabid fan base, who are currently chomping at the bit to pick up their weapons and start a new American Civil War.
Actually, there are two different things going on at the same time, both of which are inextricably linked.
The first is Trump’s assault on the press. Just prior to the wrestling meme tweet, he engaged in a vicious Twitter war with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, both of whom used to be friends of Trump. In reality, almost all of the viciousness was on the part of the president. He referred to his former friends as psycho Joe and crazy, dumb as a rock Mika, before letting loose with a vile insult to her looks that I won’t dignify by repeating here. Misogyny, of course, is nothing new to the former reality TV star, who seems to be particularly terrified by the combination of women and blood, but the attempts to delegitimize the media and set himself up for his followers as the sole arbiter of truth and reality is something we haven’t seen in this country in a very long time, if at all.
At the same time, new evidence is emerging every day that the Trump administration did, in fact, collude with the Russians to hack the 2016 presidential election and install Trump as president.
It’s no longer a matter of contention that Russia did interfere in the election. Every major intelligence agency in the U.S. is in agreement on this.
As former FBI chief, James Comey, famously said in his televised testimony before the Senate, “Let there be no fuzz on this whatsoever. Russia did interfere in our election. This is a fact.” The only people in the country who refuse to accept this verdict are Trump himself and his legion of cult-like followers.
The most recent revelation, which came in a pair of articles in the Wall Street Journal this past week, was that longtime Republican activist, Peter W. Smith, attempted to obtain Hillary Clinton emails from Russian hackers in the days leading up to the 2016 election, while naming Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway as his contacts in the Trump administration. These new details are leaking out on a weekly, if not daily basis, from longstanding stalwarts of the American press such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, before being mass delivered to the American people via CNN. At the same time, former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, has been named special prosecutor in charge of investigating Russian election interference and he is stocking his team of distinguished attorneys with lawyers very well versed in organized crime and money laundering. Trump himself has not been directly linked at this point but I imagine he must be starting to feel the noose slowly closing around his neck.
The Russian hacking spectacle has become a car crash that the American people cannot look away from. Donald Trump, however, would very much like you to look away. This is why his attacks on the press are happening.
If Trump can convince you that CNN and the Washington Post and the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are doing nothing but telling lies; that they are #fakenews; and that the only source of factual information is the president and his chosen propaganda sources like Breitbart and Fox News, then you might not believe your own eyes and ears when the inevitable piece of incontrovertible evidence of his collusion with Putin and the Russians is broadcast to the country. You know his fanatical, adoring fan club won’t believe it.
The problem with this is that he has convinced his cult that the American news media have joined with secret elements in our government (who they refer to as “the deep state”) to overthrow the democratically elected president (who won fair and square) for no other reasons than spite and hatred of this country. There are some seriously unbalanced people amongst this group who are now believing that the press are the enemies of America and are ready and willing to take up arms to protect Trump, who is, along with his enablers, the real traitor here. I have several friends who are political reporters and they are now receiving death threats from lived Trumpers on a daily basis, not only for themselves but also their husbands, wives and children. In an attempt to cover up his crimes and the illegitimacy of his presidency, Donald Trump is playing a very reckless game with American lives. What happens with these people, on fire with rage and hatred for the media, when Trump is eventually exposed?
Donald Trump will, almost certainly, be the loser here. I have very little doubt that he will face impeachment and quite possibly prison for what he’s done. I worry, however, about what happens next.