One of the first things that would be dictators do is to discredit and undermine the free press since it represents the greatest threat to their quest for power. The ultimate goal is to eventually control the press and change reality in the minds of the public to fit the fake reality that the dictator wants to impose. Frighteningly, Donald Trump has already begun this process as demonstrated by his repeated lies, constant attacks on any portions of the media not pumping out his propaganda and lies. One can only hope that while there is still time, the media will ferret out enough truth and facts to destroy Trump before he destroys American democracy. Indeed, as Der Fuhrer increasingly shows himself as a threat to world order, perhaps allied nation intelligence services will find and release bombshell information that will force even traitorous and power mad Republicans to flee Trump. A piece in Vanity Fair looks at Trump's war on the media. Here are highlights:
So, who won this week? So far, Donald Trump. During a press conference, his first since winning the election, he sounded entirely unruffled by BuzzFeed’s disclosure of unverified opposition research alleging ties between himself and Russia. Trump said that he was always hyper-aware of surveillance when he was traveling abroad and suggested that he would never do something as stupid as hiring local prostitutes to relieve themselves on the bed of a Moscow hotel suite—and he said it in a way that managed to make the charge look silly, as indeed it probably is. He openly insulted BuzzFeed as a “failing pile of garbage” and insulted CNN as a purveyor of “fake news,” passing over its reporter Jim Acosta and telling him to be quiet when Acosta kept talking anyway. Trump also used the news of the hour to take attention off of what appeared to be inadequate measures to protect against conflicts of interest between his business and his new day job.
Trump is now as powerful as ever, and if you want to topple him, you’d better have your army in order. This is a good lesson and a bad lesson. It’s good because, if a truly scandalous story emerges, journalists have to do it properly. It’s bad because it feeds into what seems to be a tacit assumption that the criterion for journalism in the Trump administration will be its power to shake the foundations of the presidency.
Journalists also learned to withhold documents from the public unless the claims within them have been thoroughly investigated. This, again, is both a good lesson and bad lesson. It’s a good lesson, because nothing good can come of reputable publications trafficking in rumor and gossip as if they’re In Touch. But it’s a bad one, too, because journalists are also way too willing to hide their work, as if readers must be shielded from the bright light of primary sources. When BuzzFeed disclosed the document in full, ordinary readers got to see an ill-kept secret that had been circulating all through the halls of journalism and government. Regular Americans at this point deserved to see it, too, and they’re probably better off for it, even if BuzzFeed isn’t. Better lesson: when you make a call to disclose the raw evidence, try to give a detailed annotation on what we know and don’t, and don’t just toss out a facile line about doing it so that “Americans can make up their own minds about [the] allegations.”
All of this has been distracting from more important troubles, like Trump’s conflicts of interest or his more dubious nominees. Mike Pompeo is a genuinely disconcerting nominee for heading up the C.I.A., far too inclined, it seems, to overestimate threats. Ben Carson is almost certain to be bad news at H.U.D., not because of his convictions, but because of his lack of knowledge.
We learned, too, that holding Trump accountable will be very, very hard, and the blame for that rests with far more than just Trump. Mainstream journalists have been asking why they’ve been losing credibility with the public, often blaming right-wing media and fake news. Rarely considered is the possibility that we’ve lost the trust of readers because we’re not trustworthy. . . . Instead, the issue is just that the media increasingly sees only what it wants to see. . . . Much of the work of mainstream watchdogging will depend on buy-in from the right if it’s going to matter. That’s just the way of it.
Finally, we learned this week that the intelligence community may well be going to war with our incoming president. . . . . For the moment, our press outlets and our intelligence agencies seem to be mounting nothing organized, just running stray sorties. But if something more coordinated emerges, with the intelligence world joining forces with reporters to mount a serious effort to remove Trump from power, things could very ugly. It would also be very dangerous.