Last Sunday, in a truly remarkable turn, Donald Trump made public a closed-door meeting held on July 20 with New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger.
“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times”, the President tweeted, before “explaining” that the conversation revolved around “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”
Yes, it is “sad.” It’s “sad” because American society is built in part on the notion that the free press is sacrosanct. Attacks on press freedom are the purvey of authoritarian regimes and have no place whatsoever in Western democracies.
His hand forced, A.G. Sulzberger responded to Trump’s tweet. “I told [the President] that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people’,” he said, in a statement, adding that the Times warned Trump that the “inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”
The President, unable to let it go, took to Twitter again and in the course of several tweets, called the press “unpatriotic”, claimed “90%” of the coverage is “negative” and in an even more remarkable turn, said the following about what he will and, more to the point, won’t, allow:
I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry.
There is, simply put, no excuse for that. That, in and of itself, should be grounds for impeachment and everyone with even the faintest conception of how authoritarianism takes root knows it.
Since Sean Spicer’s unceremonious (if comical) exit, Sarah Huckabee Sanders has had the misfortune of carrying the torch for Trump when it comes to attacking the press. For her trouble, she’s been mercilessly ridiculed. And justifiably so. She’s the public face of an administration that feeds a steady stream of misinformation, falsehoods and outright lies to the American public on a daily, and in many cases hourly, basis.
Sanders is the propaganda minister. There’s no other way to describe her role.
Recently, rumors have circulated that she’s nearing the end of her rope when it comes to how much she’s prepared to take and on Thursday afternoon, pressed (in very sincere and overtly sympathetic terms) by CNN’s Jim Acosta (who was himself verbally accosted at a recent Trump rally) to state, definitively, that the press was not in fact “the enemy of the people”, she was unable to deliver. But not because she didn’t want to. Or at least that’s my read.
Watch the video below in which a visibly upset Sanders loses a battle with her own conscious on live television:
That, right there, is what defeat looks like.