The unspeakable Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on her Monday accusations of the entire media deliberately planning to publish falsehoods and deceive the American people by threatening CNN’s Jim Acosta, who committed the sin of asking, “Mr. President, what did you mean when you said that Kirsten Gillibrand would do anything for a campaign contribution?”
Prior to this morment, @presssec issued a warning to me. She said if I asked a question of Trump at the bill signing “I can't promise you will be allowed into a pool spray again.” Sorry Sarah.. we won't be intimidated. https://t.co/RZgJpXpyEg
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 12, 2017
Acosta said this later on CNN via Crooks & Liars:
“I think what came up during this briefing was a pretty clear example of what the White House wants to do when it comes to the free press in this country. Every time there is a mistake, an honest mistake, it seems that this White House, this president wants to weaponize it and use it as a way to go after news outlets in this country.”
“We are journalists and we are human beings. We are going to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that, you know, you throw people overboard every time a mistake is made with a news outlet.”
“The problem that I had during this briefing is that you have the president of the United States referring to news outlets that make mistakes as ‘fake news.’ That’s just totally inappropriate especially when you have a president in Donald Trump who frequently puts out false information intentionally to the American people whether it’s online, on the internet, on social media or just speaking to us at news events.”
Now make no mistake, last week was positively a hellacious week in the annals of journalism. Axios:
Three media screw-ups in eight days on one investigation. The bad week for big news has President Trump feeling that he has moved the “fake news” argument from the fringe to the conservative mainstream, according to close Trump associates.
Why it matters: The mistakes — ABC’s Brian Ross on Michael Flynn’s plea, financial outlets on a Mueller subpoena of bank records, and CNN on an email about WikiLeaks — give Trump fodder for one of his favorite, and most damaging, tropes.
Based on past performance, look for POTUS to amp up his mocking.
- A source close to the White House told me: “He just hammers something into submission, whatever it may be. … With the media, he just wears it down, wears it down, then somebody slips and makes a mistake.”
- “Putting aside the impact on the long-term health of the important role that the media plays, it’s starting to really work.”
Republican support for the special counsel could be a collateral casualty in the credibility wars:
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has often needled Trump, tweeted Friday: “I will be challenging Rs and Ds on Senate Judiciary Committee to support a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 — not just Trump and Russia.”
- More Graham: “It’s long past time for a Special Counsel to investigate Clinton email scandal, Uranium One, role of Fusion GPS, and FBI and DOJ bias during 2016 campaign.”
Discrediting the press is always the first move of a dictator in a banana republic. We are now at that juncture. We are on different ground than we were a mere ten days ago. The cause of truth is a lot more desperate now and as Axios puts it, “This is a battle of epic proportion.” This is nothing short of a War on Truth.