It’s been amply established that Donald Trump really, really, really hates the media. It’s also been amply established that Trump is, at bottom, a con man. Those two factors merged in frightening fashion earlier this week, when we learned that Trump’s two-year war on the media is a deliberate attempt to discredit anyone who dares to criticize him.
On Monday night, CBS News’ Lesley Stahl and PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff had a chat during the Deadline Club of New York’s annual awards dinner. Stahl revealed that shortly after Trump’s upset victory in the presidential election, she traveled to Trump Tower to prepare for Trump’s first national interview as president-elect. It was at that point that Stahl got a very real and very scary taste of the man. Caroline Orr of Shareblue got a clip.
Stahl recalled that soon after she and her boss arrived, Trump started laying into the media. That threw Stahl for a loop. She asked Trump why he kept “hammering at this” even though he won.
Trump’s response has to be reproduced in full to be believed.
“You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”
I had to listen to this twice to believe it. Trump admitted that all his railing about the media being unfair, that it was helping rig the election against him, etc., etc., is smoke and mirrors. After all, he was just doing it to deliberately trying to undermine any reporter who holds him to account.
Watch the whole thing here. Stahl’s discussion about her encounter with Trump begins at the 21-minute mark. Amid a few nervous titters, Woodruff said that she and the audience were “all-absorbing what you just said.” It’s hard to blame them. After all, Stahl had just revealed that Trump is perpetrating the biggest con of his career–and the American people are the marks.
Suddenly, a number of statements from Trump and his minions must be cast in a new light. For instance, just days after Trump took office, Steve Bannon snarled that the media needed to “keep its mouth shut” until it understood why Trump won. A few days later, Kellyanne Conway warned that it was “dangerous to the democracy” to call out Trump’s lies, and later openly wondered why reporters who attacked Trump during the campaign hadn’t been fired. In March, Sebastian Gorka warned that any critical stories about Trump would be considered fake news.
Trump himself has let it be known that he considers even mildly critical stories about him to be fake news.
Apparently that means he considers any stories that criticize him to be an attack on the American people, judging by this outright fascistic rant from February 2017.
Calling this tweet fascistic doesn’t sound like hyperbole anymore. After all, Trump is borrowing one of Hitler’s favorite tools–“The Big Lie.” That is, tell a colossal whopper, and tell it often enough, until no one believes that the liar would “distort the truth so infamously.”
It is literally impossible to overstate this. Trump is using the power of his office in order to con the American people into believing that the press is lying about him. In so doing, he is undermining the First Amendment through the back door. Let there no longer be any doubt–if Trump finds this acceptable behavior for a president, then he is a clear and present danger to the republic.
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