From the outset of Donald Trump’s presidency, he has regarded the media as his most dangerous foe. That’s why he repeatedly refers to it in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” He even explicitly tweeted on Wednesday that his “real opponent” is not the Democratic Party, but the press. It’s his innate hatred of any institution that is governed by facts and honesty that drives this dangerous and anti-constitutional hostility.
Trump is right in a perverse way. He really does need to fear the press due to his unabashed and pathological lying. To date, he has racked up more than 12,000 lies since his inauguration. Every fact-checker who tracks Trump’s pitiful record of falsehoods has compiled volumes of evidence that he simply doesn’t care about accuracy or truth. And his lies can range from easily verifiable nonsense like who pays for tariffs (which got shot down by Fox News), to his ludicrous battle to defend saying that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian (it wasn’t). Trump will lie about matters big and small because his internal morality doesn’t recognize the difference between truth and lies. He’s focused solely on whatever benefits him at the moment.
So it was not surprising to see Geraldo Rivera at his regular perch on Fox and Friends running defense for Trump. These relentless presidential bootlickers are as predictable as flies on bullshit, which is a pretty apt simile. During a segment that started out examining Trump’s diverting funds from the military to his vanity border wall, Geraldo took a detour to shield Trump from criticism about his lying ways, but belly-flopped painfully in the process:
“This is all clear to me what is happening is that this president gets the worst press of any president in the history of the republic. Everything he says and does is cross-checked and scrutinized to reveal him to be stupid, uninformed, or a liar, you know, it is very frustrating to see how other news networks obsess about any misstep or misstatement the president makes.”
Geraldo’s assessment of which president got the worst press might be disputed by Presidents Clinton, or Nixon, or even Lincoln. But to the extent that there is negative news about Trump, it’s entirely his own fault. After all, Trump is the worst president of any in the history of the republic. He’s the first to never have positive approval ratings (they never broke above 46 percent). And his inexperience, ignorance, and incompetence is exposed nearly every day in on his Twitter feed and his useless, impromptu “chopper talk” press avails. It would be easy for Trump to avoid bad press. Just stop doing idiotic, racist, and often illegal things.
More to the point, Geraldo is complaining because “Everything [Trump] says and does is cross-checked.” Oh my Gawd! What a horrible thing to do to a public servant who is pretending to lead the free world. What’s worse is that Geraldo actually admits that such scrutiny will result in Trump being revealed to be “stupid, uninformed, or a liar.” And that, as it happens, is the truth. So what Geraldo is upset about is that the true nature of Trump’s inadequacies will become apparent to everyone should he be held to reasonable standards of review. Which is the job of the press. But Geraldo isn’t seeking the truth. He’s seeking the suppression of it. Which is the job of Fox News.
Trump is upset about the very same thing as Geraldo. He doesn’t really care whether the media is honest or not. He’s only interested in making sure that his flagrant fabrications aren’t discovered and reported. And if they are, he will attempt to discredit the press so that no one – or at least his Deplorable cult followers – will believe them. He actually admitted that to Leslie Stahl when she asked why he attacks the press. “You know why I do it?” he replied. “I do it to discredit you all, and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.” So as Stahl suggested, “Put that in your head for a minute.”