Along with editors around the country, the McClatchy editors recently published a piece excoriating President Donald Trump, asking him to end his “war on our free press.” Being called fake news is probably as frustrating as being called a fake president.
Incredibly, the editorial contains, well, fake news. Trump has said that his “enemy of the people” tweet did not reference all journalists, as the editorial suggests. Collectively, his tweets express his frustration with media products that he believes contain falsehoods or fail to tell the whole story, which he terms “fake news.”
Furthermore, McClatchy’s editorial connects the Maryland newspaper shooting with Trump’s “aggressive posture toward the First Amendment.” Really? It even mentions Stalin. Wow. Nowhere do the editors acknowledge media mistakes.
Remember James Holmes, the Aurora shooter? He was a Tea Party activist, until he was a homicidal schizophrenic. Or Trayvon Martin? He was not exactly the prepubescent, airbrushed angel in the photo released by the media. Hands Up! Don’t Shoot! Except the hands of the “Gentle Giant” had gunpowder residue.
How about the Time Magazine cover depicting Trump standing over the crying child he ripped from her mother’s arms, when the truth was much different? Those are just a few of the potholes on fake news road.
The rules of propaganda are to reduce a complicated topic to good versus bad, to smear the bad, to manipulate the values of the audience, to tell the skeptic that he is denying the consensus, and to repeat the message over and over.
Americans are smart and instinctively fair. We recognize legitimate criticism, and we recognize propaganda.
Press coverage of Trump is almost uniformly negative, even embarrassing. His unshackled economy is producing jobs, particularly for minorities, but the press is silent. He is a racist because he called a black woman a dog, but he calls white men dogs, too. He is fascist dictator. If so, he would be the first one in history to cut taxes and reduce regulations.
He has called for the end of Obamacare, which is the very definition of fascism — the co-opting of private enterprise for political ends. When he tries to enforce immigration laws or undo DACA, which was illegal, he is called lawless.
Through the media, academia and Hollywood, the left controls the culture. It does not control radio and the internet, hence its obsession with the Fairness Doctrine and net neutrality, which would regulate those platforms.
Failing there, the left has pressured social media giants to start “de-platforming” conservatives, a digital form of book-burning in which voices are muffled or muzzled. When speech is banned, ideas soon follow. Thought crimes are next.
Journalism died with the Twin Towers. The explosive growth of federal power and the erosion of liberty have thrived under the glazed eyes of a passive media. Fondled at the airport? Well. Domestic spying, even on journalist James Rosen and the Associated Press? OK. Martial law and innocent people pulled from their homes at gunpoint after the Boston Marathon bombing? Check. Political weaponization of the IRS? Move along. Endless war in Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires? Stormy Daniels. Clinton money indirectly used for a FISA warrant to investigate Trump? Russia!
The irony is that the press created President Donald Trump. The free media was only the sauce. The meat is Americans’ concern that we are losing the republic through creeping socialism, war as a business model, the debasement of our currency, the attenuation of checks and balances, bad trade deals, technology theft, and the utter incompatibility of open borders and a welfare state. It is a dish seldom served by the editors of the corporate-media watchdogs.
If the internet remains free, there is hope. The mind of a single, bold and gifted journalist would help.
Reach Cameron S. Schaeffer, a Lexington doctor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.