Apparently, Donald Trump isn’t satisfied with just referring to the media in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of people.” And it doesn’t fulfill his reckless compulsion to merely put a target on the backs of constitutionally protected journalists who are receiving more death threats than ever. Even more than threats as actual bombs have been mailed to the reporters that Trump has specifically directed his hostility.
Now Trump is openly declaring his pride in creating a brigade of willfully ignorant disciples who despise the media and exacerbate a dangerous environment for journalists who just want to do their jobs. Trump is actually proud to be inciting violence at those who engage in the practice of freedom of the press as America’s Founding Fathers envisioned it. And Trump said so explicitly in an interview with Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller:
“A lot of the animosity that we have in our country is because of fake news. They’re so angry at the news. You guys are at my rallies all the time, you see the anger when I mention the words ‘fake news’ and they turn around.”
“You look at what’s going on with the fake news and the people get it. Now they get it, and you know they had a very high approval rating before I became president, and I think it’s actually a great achievement of mine. Their approval rating now is down as low as just about anybody. And much lower than your president. I actually have good approval ratings, which nobody ever writes.”
Trump is exhibiting how severely he misinterprets reality if he thinks that the country is angry at the media rather than at him. And his boasting about the Deplorables who respond with blind obedience at his rallies only reinforces the observation that he’s leading a cult, not a political party.
However, the most troubling part of these comments is Trump’s assertion that he has lowered the approval rating of the media, which he regards as a “great achievement.” He is bragging that his self-serving tantrums are negatively impacting the one profession that the framers of the Constitution saw fit to protect by name. He actually believes that disparaging the free press is a triumph of his “leadership,” when, in fact, it’s proof of his betrayal of American values.
In addition to Trump displaying his personal loathing of constitutional principles, he is also showing his flagrant ignorance and dishonesty. First of all, his claim that media approval is “much lower than your president” is easily refuted by every poll on the matter. The most recent Gallup poll puts Trump’s approval near his all-time low at thirty-eight percent. And just a couple of months ago, a Quinnipiac poll revealed that the public has far greater regard for the media than for the President. As News Corpse reported:
After his years-long campaign of denigrating the press, as well as the Constitution’s First Amendment, Trump has gotten nowhere in terms of swaying the favor of the public. A new poll by Quinnipiac asked “Who do you trust more to tell you the truth about important issues: President Trump or the news media?” A majority of fifty-four percent chose the media. Only thirty percent chose Trump. That’s a twenty-four point margin of difference. […]The poll also asked “Which comes closer to your point of view: the news media is the enemy of the people, or the news media is an important part of democracy?” And by an even bigger majority the media came out far ahead, with sixty-nine percent saying that the media is an important part of democracy.
So Trump is both wrong on his facts and wrong to use his lies to brag about damaging America’s long-held reverence for a free press. He is wrong to encourage and embrace followers who have such open animosity for the journalists who strive to keep them informed. But of course, they are merely emulating his despicable and dangerous example. Other nationalist tyrants have sought to produce the same sort of blind loyalty that recognized only their Dear Leader as a truth-teller, and only his words as believable. Trump is, after all, the one who told his dimwitted devotees that “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” In other words my children, “Believe me, not your own eyes and ears.”
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.