Donald Trump has been Googling himself, which isn’t surprising because he’s a textbook narcissist who, over the weekend, actually took to Instagram and posted a picture of himself next to a statement ostensibly meant to commemorate deceased Senator John McCain.
For weeks, Trump has attempted to piggyback on recent social media bans of Right-wing conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones to reinforce his media bias message. That’s a backdoor way of trying to convince his base that all of the bad legal news and tariff headlines they read aren’t real.
Of course the reason social media and search giants have to be careful with folks like Alex Jones is that those folks push demonstrable lies with no basis whatsoever in reality. Jones was allowed to get away with that for years, but his ongoing dispute with the families of Sandy Hook victims and an absurd allusion to shooting Robert Mueller were a bridge too far for Apple, Facebook and YouTube (among others) who moved in to save viewers and listeners from themselves earlier this month.
Never forget that last year, during a custody battle with his ex-wife, Jones’s lawyers admitted in court that Alex doesn’t believe much of what he says on air. “He’s playing a character,” Jones’s attorney, Randall Wilhite, argued during a custody hearing last April. “He is a performance artist,” Wilhite continued. Needless to say, the millions of poor souls who tune in to Infowars didn’t get the memo on that.
Jones pitched this month’s social media bans as “proof” that the globalists are conspiring against him. “The censorship of Infowars just vindicates everything we’ve been saying. Now, who will stand against Tyranny and who will stand for free speech?” Jones asked on Twitter after the bans, in what amounted to a desperate effort to compel people to send him money. “We’re all Alex Jones now”, he claimed.
No, we’re not. But Trump is.
Back in 2016, Trump showed up on Infowars and congratulated Jones on his “amazing reputation”. Here’s that indelible clip:
Again, that is the current President of the United States contending that a man who claims Sandy Hook was a hoax has “an amazing reputation”.
Well, in the true spirit of promoting conspiracy theories and standing with the likes of Alex Jones against efforts to ensure that America isn’t force fed outright lies, Trump accused Google of conspiring against him in a series of predawn tweets on Tuesday.
“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media, in other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD”, the President said, before lamenting that “Fake CNN is prominent” while “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.” He then asked if this state of affairs is “illegal”. And there was more:
96% of results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!
As ever, it’s difficult to know what part of this is Trump leaning ever more autocratic and which part is Trump just refusing to acknowledge the fact that most coverage is negative because most of what he says and does is either aimed at promoting divisiveness or just outright stupid, but whatever the case, he’s once again suggesting that he will use the powers of the presidency to try and influence the media.
This is an ongoing theme and we spent a ton of time talking about it in “Is Democracy Dying? New Poll Paints Grim Picture For Press Freedom“. That post came after Trump’s disconcerting exchange with New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger and subsequent refusals on the part of administration officials to disavow the President’s contention that the press is “the enemy of the people”, a line Trump continues to push despite the fact that it endangers lives and emboldens authoritarian governments across the globe.
Over the past month alone, Trump has called the press “unpatriotic“, “the most dishonest people you’ll ever meet” and in one particularly inflammatory tweet, told his 55 million followers that reporters are “dangerous, sick” people who “can cause wars”.
As a reminder, a recent Ipsos poll showed 43% of Republicans believe Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Of course when it comes to defining “bad behavior”, it is Trump who would invariably have the last word, if not de jure, then certainly de facto, because the very voters who would support that kind of aggressive curtailment of the media would likely be the same people who are enamored with the President’s anti-press agitprop.
To be clear, this is another instance where gullible voters are being duped into believing that the “bad behavior” emanates from the likes of CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Meanwhile, Alex Jones spends his days maligning the families of slaughtered school children and somehow, his “reputation is amazing”, according to the President.
If you want to know why Alex Jones and people like him are being closed out by Apple, Google and Facebook, you should take a few minutes and read BuzzFeed’s exposé on True Pundit, released on Monday. It’s a tale that will be familiar to anyone who knows how alt-Right propaganda machines work, but for anyone who is having trouble understanding why “news” produced by the likes of Alex Jones and True Pundit doesn’t score high on Google, that piece tells you everything you need to know.