An ArmchairMayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE IMPERFECTIONS of the media are well-documented but very often exaggerated. Nobody knows that better, or is more effective at exploiting it, than Donald Trump.
His fascination with the media has seemed puzzling and even irrational. Yet it’s now becoming very clear what he’s up to.
During the Republican nomination process, Trump had plenty of targets in the other party candidates, and never missed an opportunity to call them names and characterize them as the enemy.
After he won the nomination, he had a new target — Hillary Clinton, and did a fine job of demonizing her, at least for the benefit of his ultra-Conservative base. It worked.
Now that he’s in office, he needs someone else to attack. Trashing the previous administration and what he likes to call “the mess” that it created, goes only so far. The focus has to become more forward-looking.
Who better than the media to become the new enemy? And he uses that term literally. The media, he tweeted — referring specifically to the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBC and CNN— are “the enemy of the American People!”
That’s more than a little over the top. Traditionally, those who are labelled enemies of the state are targeted by governments — usually of the dictatorial variety — for removal, and often not in a pleasant way.
But then, more and more, Trump is sounding like a tinpot dictator — more accurately, a ball-cap autocrat — than the elected president of a democratic state.
The media are not enemies of the people. As has been pointed out over the past couple of days, many journalists have been persecuted and have died in the line of duty bringing the truth to the world about dictatorships.
The media, for all their warts, are one of the best lines of defense against the excesses of government. But Trump is playing to public dissatisfaction with the media’s performance of recent years. He knows if he resolutely re-enforces the “fake news” label he’s attached to legitimate mainstream media, if he repeats it often enough, then any spotlight they shine on his misguided decisions, mistakes and alternative facts will be blunted.
He’s engaging in a pre-emptive strike, and people shouldn’t let themselves be fooled by it.