For the last three years, one thing has become as certain as death and taxes–bursts of rage tweets from Donald Trump. Sunday night was no different. Apparently Trump was displeased that Fox News’ weekend anchors actually engage in journalism.
This led Trump to hurl what appeared to be the ultimate insult in Trumpland. As far as Trump is concerned, Fox News, at least on the weekend, has become no different than his favorite whipping boys, CNN and MSNBC. Trump was also displeased that Fox News’ weekend crew used The New York Times as a source.
At first glance, this spurt of rage tweets appears to confirm what many of us have long suspected–Trump expects Fox News to function as the equivalent of state media. But there’s something even more chilling in this rage tweetstorm–one that doesn’t seem to have gotten much attention. He called NBC News and MSNBC a “crew of degenerate Trump haters.”
We already know that Trump’s bleating and screeting about “FAKE NEWS!” is actually part of a calculated and ham-handed effort to discredit anyone who dares to criticize him. We already knew that he considers even mildly critical coverage to be fake.
We also know that Trump openly admitted to veteran journalist Lesley Stahl that his attacks on the media are a deliberate attempt to ensure that “when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.” But referring to his foes as “degenerate” takes Trump’s war on the media to a new and chilling level.
By calling NBC News and MSNBC “degenerate,” Trump is saying that they are less than human for daring to speak out against him. Simply put, this is not the sentiment of a democratic leader. It is the sentiment of a wannabe dictator. Indeed, it harkens back to the days when the Nazis considered Jews and other minorities to be “untermenschen,” or subhuman.
This rage tweet also reveals yet more evidence that we have a president with a severely warped moral compass. ProPublica and CNN have reported on at least two secret Facebook groups in which current and former Border Patrol agents traded horribly degrading images of migrants and engaged in hateful rhetoric about their critics in Congress. Regardless of how you feel about immigration, this is wholly unacceptable.
You would think that this is something on which there is no other side. And yet, Trump couldn’t see fit to condemn it. But he can somehow find the time to call his media critics “degenerate”? This is at least as egregious as his “both sides” nonsense after the Charlottesville horror.
But even without this to consider, this tweet should send a chill down the spine of any fair-minded American. It cannot be stated enough–the president of the United States publicly called his media critics less than human. And yet, in the time since Trump fired off this tweet, for the most part this has been the response on the tubes.
The most benign interpretation of the relative silence on this portion of Trump’s tweets is that we as a nation can’t see the forest for the trees. We gape at Trump attacking Fox News for actually practicing journalism, while not noticing his dehumanizing attacks on his critics?
Have we, as a nation, become so desensitized to Trump’s depraved behavior on Twitter that we can’t rise up and condemn this for the pigweed that it is? And to those who support Trump primarily because of social issues, ask yourselves–are they so important that we must tolerate a president who finds this even remotely acceptable?
In any other democracy, this rage tweet would have been a “break glass” moment. The fact that Trump hasn’t been called out on both sides of the spectrum for this dehumanizing attack on MSNBC and NBC News is almost as disgraceful as the original tweet.
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