Subverting Dissent?

Never in memory has an incoming Administration caused a level of uncertainty and unrest or generated the public and political turmoil we’re currently witnessing.

Right from the start, this President has clearly demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to recognize or acknowledge any truth which differs from his.  The childlike obsession with the size of his Inauguration Day crowd, a relatively insignificant matter, was simply astounding.  Enraged by such a disrespectful blow to his enormous ego, he sent his Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, out to lambaste the press for “deliberately” misrepresenting the attendance level.

“Deliberately”?  Did you mean like the press conspired beforehand and said, “Hey, let’s put a burr under his saddle and say ‘Obama had a bigger crowd’, that should light up his Twitter feed!’?  Yeah, that sounds plausible…not.  Then, when Spicer’s statements about the size of the crowd failed to pass muster, we were enlightened by the ever-sycophantic Kellyanne Conway that Spicer had simply provided “alternative facts” to substantiate the alleged “largest crowd ever” claim.  A rose lie by any other name…

My interpretation of this series of events is that this Administration is openly willing to lie and subsequently present its own “facts” to paint the lie as truth.  Now, certainly, this Administration wouldn’t be the first to mold a piece of information in order to achieve the desired public response (i.e. WMD’s), but to be that brazen about it, over so inconsequential a matter, is a bit worrisome.

The President is, and has been, in a self-proclaimed “running war” with the press.  Any disagreement or negative comment is immediately characterized as false, a lie or unfair.  Throughout our country’s history Presidents have tangled with the press but I don’t believe any President has ever before publicly portrayed the media en masse as being “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”  Ms. Conway, the aforementioned professional sycophant, has gone so far as to suggest that journalists ought to be fired if they are critical of the President.  White House chief strategist and questionable newcomer to the National Security Council, Steve Bannon, labeled the press “the opposition party”.

One might expect an incoming President, with no public mandate and having lost the popular vote (except in his own whirligig mind), would wish to curry at least a little favor with those tasked with presenting and interpreting his policies to the people.  So, what might motivate him to begin his Presidency intentionally antagonizing the news media?

Is it because, as a businessman, he believes any coverage, even negative, has value?

Is it simply because he’s been at odds with the press from the beginning of his campaign and to back off now might make him look weak?

Is it an intentional ploy designed to distract journalists from digging deeper into the facts and methods behind policy decisions?

False or misleading accusations serve to make it easier to portray the media as liars, so is it part of a larger, and perhaps more ominous, strategy to discredit the media to such a degree that all negative reporting will be viewed with skepticism by the public?  Such vitriol toward the press seems designed to further wither away the public’s already eroded confidence in the news media in order to reinforce his own “facts” as the truth.

The Founders recognized the necessity of an independent press and felt strongly enough about it to include “freedom of the press” in the First Amendment. Mr. Trump swore an oath to uphold the Constitution but his attitude toward the press seems an arrogant and flagrant disregard for the First Amendment.

 

thomasjefferson

“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” –

Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786.

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