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Our Press the Democracy-Reviving Antidote to Trump’s Venomous Lies

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This week our country and the world commemorates the 48th anniversary of the historic and breathtaking Apollo astronaut’s Moon landing taking “a giant leap for mankind” while leaving behind a small U.S. flag and the delicate detailed footprints of the brave patriots from the Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The Trump administration has also taken a breathtaking “giant leap” as our country and the world looks on, but the leap Trump and his co-conspirators have taken is not extraterrestrial. This leap, rather, follows a deranged trail outside of the traditional political and civil discourse environment into the toxic atmosphere of blatant lies and deception, leaving behind a stench-filled democracy-killing dump in its wake.

“No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days,” Trump boldly asserted to his rally audience in Kenosha, Wisconsin. But beneath this Trumpian hyperbole, what has he actually accomplished?

While the White House website lists 28 bills signed by Trump, though this is the highest since 1949, it stands well below the 76 signed by Roosevelt in 1933. But as PolitiFact reports, many of Trump’s bills were “minor or housekeeping bills,” and “none met a longstanding political-science standard for ‘major bills’.”

“I know more about ISIS than the generals, trust me.” But ISIS is not all he knows more about than anyone else.

  • Talking about an Obama-induced “crisis” throughout the country at the Republican National Convention, Trump guaranteed that “I alone can fix it.”
  • “I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I’m the one who can truly fix them.”
  • “I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth.”
  • “I understand social media. I understand the power of Twitter. I understand the power of Facebook maybe better than almost anybody, based on my results, right?”
  • “Nobody knows more about debt. I’m like the king. I love debt.”
  • “I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world. Nobody knows more about taxes.”
  • “Nobody knows banking better than I do.”
  • “I understand money better than anybody. I understand it far better than Hillary, and I’m way up on the economy when it comes to questions on the economy.”
  • “I think nobody knows the [U.S.] system [of government] better than I do.”
  • “I used to be, George, the fair-haired boy — you know, when I was a contributor. I know more about contributions than anybody.”
  • “Nobody knows more about trade than me.
  • “Nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump.”
  • “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”
  • “I know more about offense and defense than they will ever understand, believe me. Believe me. Than they will ever understand. Than they will ever understand.”
  • “There is nobody who understands the horror of nuclear more than me.”

Whether blatant lies, bravado, hyperbole, or self-dilution, considering his collective past statements, the public and our allies abroad cannot and should not trust him, for he has no credibility left.

In addition, where are these mythical tax forms he promised to release? Where is this spectacular health care plan that will improve care and lower costs that he promised to pass? Where are the best, brightest, and most qualified cabinet secretaries he promised to nominate? When has he placed “America First” above his own self-interests and profits? Where are his excellent business negotiating skills? When will he and his family begin to “Hire and Buy American” in their businesses as he has demanded of the private sector?

While he complained about some sort of conspiratorial voter fraud that deprived him of garnering the popular vote in the last election, he has done nothing to curb the real voter suppression efforts by the Republican Party nationwide, nor has he pushed to restore the Voting Rights Act to its once effective version before the Supreme Court gutted its chief provisions.

Instead, he brought together a so-called “Election Integrity Presidential Advisory Commission,” which has demanded secretaries of state divulge voter information that violates many state constitutions. The commission serves merely as a front to feed Trump’s narcissistic need to prove – contrary to facts and reason – that he won the popular vote in the last election, rather than what all accounts have concluded: that he lost to Hillary Clinton by over 3 million.

Congressional oversight committees and a Special Prosecutor are investigating numerous scandals swirling throughout his administration placing Trump in a collision course with the Constitution regarding possible links to Russia in influencing the outcome of the past election and serious concerns over his business ventures and conflicts of interest.

He referred to these investigations: “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

Former White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, promoted blatant lies — like the inauguration crowd size, Elton John supposedly appearing, and the administration having no meetings with Russian diplomats before the inauguration — to his factual blunders — like Hitler never used chemical weapons on his own people at “the Holocaust centers” — to his obvious abuse and hatred of the White House press corps.

Newly appointed Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has already been shown to have either misspoken, stretched the truth, or blatantly lied during her relatively few press briefings.

Now as Anthony Scaramucci has taken over the helm as White House Press Director, and has guaranteed “full transparency” at his post, time will only tell whether that too will turn out to be a lie.

“Fake news,” as used by Trump, includes any and all unfavorable news and other reports after exposing this administration to the bright lights of public scrutiny. The term stands even in the face of the New York Times finding that Trump mislead or misstated the facts at least once in 91 of his first 99 days, and the Washington Post counted 836 false or misleading claims in the first 181 days after swearing to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

At press conferences, Trump disrespects reporters. He demands them to “sit down” when they ask questions he doesn’t like, and he speaks of a “running war” with the media. He has even accused “freedom of the press” as the cause of terrorist bombings in the U.S.

Throughout his campaign to the present day, Donald Trump has energized his base of supporters by consistently blaming and attacking the media generally as well as specific outlets.

He labeled the venerable New York Times as “failing,” and BuzzFeed as “a failing pile of garbage.” He argued that “[Journalists are] among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” He continually calls them “liars” whenever they write stories unflattering to him and his administration.

German Nazis popularized the term Lügenpresse (“lying press”) to intimidate and silence opposition.

He cut back on the number of televised White House daily press briefings, and he rarely consents to giving press conferences.

His chief political strategist, former editor of the far-right Breitbart News, Stephen K. Bannon, severely castigated the press by calling it “the opposition party”:

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while… The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

Well, in his admission to “deconstruct the administrative state,” Bannon apparently wants to dismantle the free press. The Trump administration’s obvious “divide and conquer” or “divide and rule” (Latin dīvide et īmpera) strategy it hopes will have the effect of inhibiting the media from unifying and establishing a strong block to push for the truth by competing for the limited crumbs in the mirage of the tasty press-access pie.

Trump seems, however, to like people over at Fox News who serve as his apologists and promoters. Fox News has operated as the mouthpiece of the conservative segment of the Republican Party since its inception (a virtual Republican Party infomercial), and as the state-supported propaganda machine during Republican administrations much as Pravda (“truth” in Russian), functioned under dictatorial regimes during the former Soviet Union.

Fox News promotes “fairness and balance” as Prava promotes “truth.”

No matter how Trump and his accomplices wish to characterize the so-called “mainstream press,” gratitude must be showered upon them rather than the scorn and vile bigotry coming from the political right.

Members of the media, our purveyors of facts, ensure the perpetuation of our democratic form of government. While they sometimes get it wrong, when they do, they follow up with retractions, and at times, individual reporters and commentators lose their jobs if malintent or malice is proven.

I admire not only the center-left to progressive news outlets, reporters, and commentators, but also the courageous conservative Republican-leaning journalists and pundits who speak truth to power, people like Joe Scarborough, Nicole Wallace, Michael Steele (former RNC Chair), and now even Fox News host, Shepard Smith, who stated in an on-air discussion with another Fox anchor, Chris Wallace, regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian agents in Trump Tower:

“We’re still not clean on this, Chris. Why all these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie? If you clean, come on clean.”

Donald Trump represents the voice of the alt-right in spreading his alt-facts within his alt-reality universe. Because of our mighty press providing the democracy-saving antidote to the constant stream – in drips and torrents — of misinformation, lies, and cover ups from this and past administrations, We the People, by informing ourselves, will ensure that our system of government does not perish from the Earth.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

July 23rd, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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