U.S. strongman Donald Trump’s comments and tweets, which have blasted the “fake media” and “fake news,” have endangered journalists across the United States. In combining the unique powers afforded by the presidential “bully pulpit” to every American president since Theodore Roosevelt, who coined the phrase, with the “lying press” (lügenpresse), verbiage favored by Adolf Hitler, Trump has rallied to his side some of the most unsavory political activists and bottom-feeders seen in the United States since the days of the red-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Although Trump has reserved most of his anti-press invective for the quasi-journalistic cable news networks, his continued campaign events across the country still include barbs about the “awful media,” “disgraceful media,” and “discredited media” directed against many reporters who cover the events for their local TV and radio stations, newspapers, and websites.
Trump is on dangerously thin ice in launching attacks on the press in general. When Trump attacks local media during his incessant campaign stops, he is attacking journalists who most local residents have come to respect and like. These are the journalists who risk their safety in covering extreme weather events, wild fires, and law enforcement standoffs with criminals. These TV, radio, newspaper, and web reporters ply the corridors of state houses and city halls to expose state and local corruption by politicians of both parties. They are the “feet on the ground” professional news people who investigate local businesses who scam their customers and dump poisonous substances into the waterways and oceans; animal shelters that mistreat stray animals and lost pets; judges who are on the take; hit-and-run drivers who mow down senior citizens crossing the street; and school teachers who sexually prey on their students. Local TV reporters, who include sportscasters and meteorologists, often participate in local community events—from Fourth of July celebrations to Christmas parades—and, along with local sports celebrities, such members of the media are looked up to by children who recognize them from their TV screens. If these journalists have no respect, why is it that they are often invited to address graduating high school students and local business organizations?
Trump is full of crap when it comes to “fake news” and “fake journalists,” but he is too vain and stupid to recognize it. The members of what Trump calls the “fake media” are indispensable parts of their local communities and attacks on them by Trump are, like NATO’s Article 5, considered an attack on all.
The ironic thing about Trump’s anti-press hate campaign is that many local journalists would agree that the national cable news networks leave much to be desired as centers of journalistic integrity. These journalists, along with many of their viewers, readers, and listeners understand that the cable news networks are substituting “infotainment”—including shouting matches between “experts” with dubious credentials—for the type of hard news local reporters cover every hour of every day. When a major story breaks outside the glass “newsquariums” in Washington, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox are forced to switch to local news coverage because they lack the means and the expertise to cover the events in real time. Eventually, the cable networks dispatch news phonies like Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and other “talking heads” to the scene, but it is the local TV affiliate newsman or newswoman who carries the load for the networks. The national “faces” add nothing of journalistic value to local broadcasting or print or web reporting.
Trump has set in motion dark forces that threaten the personal safety of thousands of journalists across the United States. Trump’s Twitter messages, one of which included a doctored video from a wrestling match showing Trump punching someone with a CNN logo for his head, go viral. But in many cases, radical right-wing hate merchants take Trump’s antics farther. The racist blogger, using the handle HanAssholeSolo, who created the Trump v. CNN fight scene was exposed by Jared Yates Sexton, an assistant professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University whose by-line has appeared in contributions to the New York Times.
Sexton was almost immediately inundated with anti-Semitic hate messages even though he is a Southern Baptist. Perhaps, it was the fact that Sexton shares the same first name with Trump’s ultra-corrupt Orthodox Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner that prompted the anti-Jewish hate responses to Sexton, but it does not take much for low-information Trump supporters to resort to neo-Nazi/Ku Klux Klan-style hate campaigns to press home their points, whatever they may be.
As a recent recipient of an anti-Semitic Twitter message from one of Trump’s minions, this editor knows how Sexton must feel. As some Trump fans now openly proclaim their plans for a “Journocaust,” in which journalists will be rounded up and put to death en masse, I received the following tweet depicting a rat wearing a small yarmulke:
Although having not an insignificant degree of Jewish ancestry, I have always identified as Lutheran, just like Karl Marx, Helmut Schmidt, Peter Ustinov, and, according to some reports, Johann Sebastian Bach—all Lutherans of varying degrees of Jewish descent.
Trump is the first president to lead a dangerous tinged-with-hate crusade against the only American profession that is protected by name in the U.S. Constitution. Not even Richard Nixon, in the darkest days of Watergate, resorted to such Nazi-like tactics in battling the press.
Trump’s “call to arms” against the American press may very well end up costing some journalists their lives. As seen with many Trump supporters, it does not take much to set off the insane delusions inculcated in their minds by Trump and his propagandists, who include Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and other mad prophets of the airwaves. But, we should all remember and reflect on those journalists who paid a heavy price in rooting out corruption in this country and reflected the highest ideals of the First Amendment. Rather than launch repeated invective against the press, perhaps Trump should call on the Department of Justice to reopen, as a federal investigation, the June 1976 car bomb assassination of Arizona Republic investigative journalist Don Bolles.
Bolles was investigating a national organized crime syndicate that involved horse and dog racing businessmen in Arizona. These businessmen had joined with Italian and Jewish mobsters in places like Las Vegas to obtain a piece of the action from not only gambling but the other vices that go along with it: prostitution, drugs, and money laundering. On June 2, 1976, Bolles’s white Datsun blew up from a dynamite bomb taped to the underside of the vehicle under the driver’s seat. Bolles lost his legs and an arm in the explosion and lingered for nearly eleven days in the hospital before he finally succumbed to his injuries. However, on his death bed, Bolles uttered the words: “They finally got me. The Mafia. Emprise. Find John.” Emprise was the company involved in illegal activity at the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the Arizona State Racing Commission. “John” was John Adamson, one of the gangsters involved in car bombing Bolles. Unfortunately, rather than identifying with Bolles and like-minded investigative journalists, Trump would identify with the gangsters involved with Bolles’s assassination.
The United States and its president would be much better off if everyone adopted the stance of the third president, Thomas Jefferson, who famously said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Finally, a note of caution to any Trump Nazi who has in mind involving me in their “Journocaust.” Try it, but you’ll have to deal with “Mr. Smith” and “Mr. Wesson” first.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2017 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).