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politics Trump

Trump On Sunday: The Press Are ‘Dangerous, Sick’ People ‘Who Can Cause War’

"I am providing a great service."

Donald Trump played another one of his MAGA concerts on Saturday evening, this time in Ohio, where Republican Troy Balderson is set to square off against Democrat Danny O’Connor on Tuesday in the final special election before November.

Balderson, Trump said, is “the guy who will do things”.

The President is also “the guy who will do things” and by “things” I mean turn a rally held ostensibly in support of someone else into a self-aggrandizing circus that at one point found a sweating, orange-faced Trump suggesting that Space Force will be for “offensive” purposes.

(Trump, at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio, August 4, 2018)

The President also took a few minutes to explain what he imagines happened on the night of the election (the presidential election, that is, not Tuesday’s special election in Ohio, which is what Trump was supposed to be campaigning for on behalf of Balderson). After running through how unidentified spouses wanted to “go to the movies” on election night because CNN brainwashed them (don’t even ask), Trump said this about the press:

(Trump, at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio, August 4, 2018)

Trump attacked the media at least one other time during the rally and also suggested that any polls which don’t show him doing well are “suppression polls”, a falsehood he’s leaning on more and more of late.

In any event, Saturday night’s fresh attacks on the press should be viewed in the context of last weekend’s remarkable exchange between the President and New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger. The two met at the White House on July 20 for what was supposed to be an off the record conversation, but Trump ended up tweeting about it, saying he explained to the Times how the “fake news” label morphed into his new favorite nickname for the free press: “the enemy of the people”.

Following Trump’s tweet, A.G. Sulzberger released a statement warning Trump that he was essentially inciting violence and, perhaps more importantly, legitimizing authoritarian governments around the world. “I warned [Trump that his rhetoric] was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press”, a statement from Sulzberger reads.

Trump immediately fired back on Twitter, accusing the media of itself endangering lives, calling the press “unpatriotic”, claiming “90%” of the coverage is “negative” and in a truly disconcerting turn, implying that going forward, he will decide what is and isn’t “allowed” to be published.

On Thursday, in a sad exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta, a visibly upset Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried (and failed) to put on a brave face for the administration when pressed to say whether she, personally, believes what the President is saying about the media. All Sarah Huckabee Sanders humor aside, she clearly does not.

Asked for her opinion on the matter, Ivanka Trump essentially laughed at her father on Thursday morning. Here’s the clip:

(Ivanka Trump, speaking in an interview with Axios, August 2)

In case the White House was wondering, that is how you answer questions about what you deem to be unfair press coverage.

Fast forward to Sunday and the President was back at it. “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE”, he tweeted, before doing what he does best (or worst, depending on how you want to look at it), by taking things up another notch still. Here’s the President:

I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. [The media] purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!

Again, it’s tempting to just ignore him at this point, but that normalizes the behavior and demeans the office. This is the President of the United States accusing the free press of being “dangerous, sick” people who “can cause War!”. For an American politician – any politician – to say that is completely unacceptable. This isn’t just out of step with decorum, it’s out of step with democracy.

Trump went on to accuse the media of “refus[ing] to report the lies and corruption having to do with the Rigged Witch Hunt.”

Like everything he says, these attacks on the press will invariably come back to haunt him. Then again, we’re talking about a President who waited four days to approve  Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley’s request to have American flags lowered to half-staff across the country in honor of the victims of the Capital Gazette shooting, so I guess it’s possible the President has no shame whatsoever.

If you don’t recall how that played out, allow me to leave you with a helpful reminder from the Baltimore Sun. Read the following passages from an article published July 3 and draw your own conclusions as to whether there was some “miscommunication” or whether maybe – just maybe – Trump was reluctant and had to be convinced.

The White House permitted Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley to lower U.S. flags to half-staff Tuesday in remembrance of the mass shooting at The Capital last week after Buckley said it denied his initial request.

President Donald Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders called Buckley Tuesday morning to inform him of the decision. The president issued a proclamation ordering the flags lowered nationwide until sunset Tuesday.

Buckley said Tuesday he ordered the city’s American flags lowered immediately.

“It’s a horrible situation, but I think it’s the least respect we could give the journalists,” Buckley said. “It’s a little bit of comfort.”

Buckley had said Monday the White House declined the initial request the mayor submitted through members of Maryland’s congressional delegation. Buckley said he received word of Trump’s decision through Rep. John Sarbanes. Sarbanes’ office would not confirm whether it made the request. Sanders called Buckley on Monday night to confirm the request and said she’d get back to him Tuesday morning.

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2 comments on “Trump On Sunday: The Press Are ‘Dangerous, Sick’ People ‘Who Can Cause War’

  1. ChicagoDave

    Dear Heisenberg.
    So enjoying your thoughtful reports, both here and in the financial realm. Enjoying this site in particular and the tracks of thinking that your expressions inspire.

    The principle of a free press is a leg of the republic on which the founding fathers themselves differed or held in at least some ambivalence. Of course, our despotically inclined president seems to compulsively exploit any doubts about the value of a free press and leverage all opportunities to diminish the efforts of published entities to expose truths about his governance. But Trump = Noise. Putting his ugliness aside will not be simple. But I have faith that by the actions of the abundance of the American people, this too shall pass.

    Still, the discussion about a free press is a good one. Since 1776, our republic has experienced ambivalence regarding the virtues of a free press. In 1861, when John Hodgson, publisher of the Jeffersonian in West Chester PA, expressed the views of many northern democrats at the time with stories promoting pro-southern and pro-slavery views, mobs entered his office in the middle of the night and trashed it, destroying his printing press. That same year, under a warrant from the US Attorney for the Eastern District, federal marshals padlocked his office and closed the paper. Here is a link to more about Hodgson and the Jeffersonian … http://slavenorth.com/cw/hodgson.htm … At the end of it all, Hodgson won victory in federal court with a small monetary award, but freedom of the press appropriately won the day.

    At an earlier time Thomas Jefferson in his letters:
    “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious when put into that polluted vehicle.” and “Advertisements contain the only truth to be relied on in a newspaper.”

    But in another letter Jefferson also said: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

    In the Pentagon Papers case before the Supreme Court in 1971, President Nixon claimed authority to suspend publication of classified materials, but the court saw otherwise:

    “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the public. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”
    – Hugo Black, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, in the decision on New York Times Co. v. United States

    If nothing else, our despotic president challenges us to reconsider the facts of our history. We have a terrible challenge before us. There is an ill-intentioned man trying to steal our country. We must call him out and vote like our lives and our children’s live depend on it.

    Thanks again, Heisenberg, for this safe and good place to think and speak freely.

    Best wishes,
    Dave

  2. Anonymous

    Looks like Trump has finally acknowledged China’s protectionist policy as being the correct one.
    “Tariffs are working big time. Every country on earth wants to take wealth out of the U.S., always to our detriment. I say, as they come,Tax them. If they don’t want to be taxed, let them make or build the product in the U.S. In either event, it means jobs and great wealth. ..Because of Tariffs we will be able to start paying down large amounts of the $21 Trillion in debt that has been accumulated, much by the Obama Administration, while at the same time reducing taxes for our people. At minimum, we will make much better Trade Deals for our country!

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