Trump Targets News Media

Trump Targets News Media

This Trump presidency has me feeling like a gerbil on an exercise wheel, running faster and faster and getting nowhere. As soon as I post about something terrible Trump said or did, wham, there’s another terrible thing that’s he or his administration has said or done, and another, and another, and another,  …  And this is just the beginning.

After my last post (which I completed well after midnight, so it was more the 27th than the 26th), I was kicking myself for leaving out the part about Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people.” I meant to include mention of that in the post. It’s such a dangerous terminology for a president (whose tweets have already elicited death threats) to employ even once, and yet it may potentially become one of his new pet phrases.

And guess what? The New York Times yesterday had a cover story on this very thing. The title of the article is “Phrase With a Venomous Past Now Rattles American Politics,” and it was written by Andrew Higgins. Three paragraphs in, Higgins poses the question “Why would the elected leader of a democratic nation embrace a label that, after the death of Stalin, even the Soviet Union found to be too freighted with sinister connotations?” My suspicion is that Stephen Bannon is actually the best person to direct that question to. But in any case, it’s an interesting article. It traces the historical roots of the phrase back to the French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror.

There are several other articles in yesterday’s New York Times worth mentioning. “To Battle Fake News, A Newscast Airs It” (by Andrew E. Kramer), is about a weekly “news” broadcast reporting on the latest “fake news.” Based in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, StopFake News’s mission is debunking fake news stories. The article left me with the impression that all if not most of the fake news seems to be originating from within Russia.

Remember that bizarre reference Trump made regarding Sweden? (Which prompted one of its former Prime Ministers [Carl Bildt] to tweet: “What has he been smoking?”) Well, page twelve of yesterday’s New York Times had an article (Liam Stack and Christina Anderson, “Sweden’s Defense and National Security Adviser? “We Don’t Know This Guy,’ “), that began by stating: “A man described as a Swedish defense and national security adviser appeared on Fox News last week to defend President Trump’s claim that criminal immigrants are wreaking havoc in Sweden. But according to court records and Swedish officials, the man, identified as Nils Bildt, has a criminal record in the United States and no ties to Sweden’s security establishment.” It also states in the article that “according to public records, Mr. Bildt was born Nils Trolling … and went by that name as recently as May.” [According to the article, Carl Bildt told The Washington Post that he and Nils Bildt are not related.]

On the next-to-last page of yesterday’s New York Times, there is an op-ed by their columnist Charles M. Blow, which addresses Trump’s dishonesty and attacks against the news media. The piece, titled “Trump, Archenemy of Truth,” has one line in particular that I would like to quote: “The press is the light that makes the roaches scatter.” Blow also states in the op-ed that “a free, fearless, adversarial, in-your-face press is the best friend a democracy can have.”

Let me also quote from a letter that appeared in Newsday, yesterday. The letter was written by Robert K. Sweeney, who, according to an editor’s note, “is a former member of the New York Assembly, and was chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee from 2007 through 2014.” This is how the letter begins:

Environmentalists are right to be concerned about the goings-on in Washington and what it means for all Americans [“Senate confirms EPA foe Scott Pruitt to lead agency,” News, Feb. 18].

It’s not just about Pruitt and his antipathy toward all things environmental. Last Dec. 1, the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which has oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, retweeted a Breitbart News article titled “Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists,” a fiction unsupported by any facts. And, some Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation to eliminate the EPA.

First, I would like to point out that according to Wikipedia,  Breitbart News “has published a number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories, as well as intentionally misleading stories.” And yet, despite this, they were allowed to attend that White House briefing last week (see the 2/26/2017 blog post below), while The New York Times and other prominent news organizations were excluded.

Second, Sweeney is absolutely correct in stating that “environmentalists are right to be concerned about” what is going on in Washington right now. It ain’t pretty. Just days ago, in speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, EPA head Scott Pruitt stated that some Obama era environmental regulations will be “rolled back in a very aggressive way,” and possibly within days. About two weeks before that, Republicans were busy trying to weaken the Endangered Species Act. With one Republican senator going so far as to suggest a requirement that for every new species added to the list, one should have to be removed.

France had its Reign of Terror, 1793-1794, and we will have our Reign of Trump 2017-2020. The planet can easily bounce back from a Reign of Terror — our species is highly proficient at increasing its numbers — but recovering from a Reign of Lunacy regarding stewardship of the planet? That is something else, entirely. In my previous post, below, you learned that the betting service Ladbrokes is offering “even odds” that Trump will resign or be removed by impeachment before the end of his term. I can only wish that our odds of saving the planet were looking anywhere near as rosy. The world can ill afford another four years of inaction. Time is running out. (Please see the message at the bottom of this page!)