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EDITORIAL – Media an easy target to make ‘enemy of the people’

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in second presidential debate.

Hillary Clinton was Trump’s obvious target during the election. Now he needs a new opponent, and the media fit the bill.

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.

mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca

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About Mel Rothenburger (5006 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Media an easy target to make ‘enemy of the people’

  1. Keep in mind that one of the major “hidden” planks of Republicans is to deny education to the masses e.g. dismantling of New Orleans public schools after Katrina. Most responsible media seeks out facts (except FOX NEWS, of course). Facts are anathema to DT, thus his war with media.

  2. could the media become an enemy of the people if it refused to cover certain segments and stories that are deemed important by the public.If stories were slanted or edited in such ways that the significance of a story is down played.This did happen in Kamloops recently much to the discredit of most media outlets.The media is supposed to report in an objective way all stories that have a serious impact on the citizens way of life.If an editor wishes to give his/her opinion that fine .The same is true if any citizen wishes to do likewise.It is important that opportunities like this are available to the public..Thanks Mel ..

  3. The media…a friend, a foe or a friendly foe? Does it all depends on perspective?
    But that segment called “market place” and “go public” does seem quite helpful to the general public regardless of the political.

  4. Sean McGuinness // February 21, 2017 at 7:41 AM // Reply

    One the one hand, Trump desperately needs the media and on the other, he loathes it. If you live be the sword, so shall you die by the sword.

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