When Trump announced last week that his administration would be taking a “very, very strong look” at US libel laws—he called them a “sham”—he was keeping a campaign promise to expand libel laws in order to make it easier to sue the media for writing what he called “purposely negative and horrible and false articles” in order to “win lots of money.”
This attitude is what gave birth to Trump’s worn-out cries of fake news—a claim that has been repeated ad nauseam by Trump and his brigade of goose-stepping followers. As has become abundantly clear, when Trump refers to fake news he’s talking about reports that criticize him or fail to echo his talking points about how awesome he is.
Obviously, the news media has a well-established history of being liberally biased, but biased news isn’t necessarily fake news, and it’s certainly no excuse for suing them into silence.
Trump’s contempt for media not named FOX News has taken some disconcerting turns beginning with his 2016 campaign. Trump would routinely revoke media credentials of news outlets that failed to feed his incessant need for attention, even creating a Nixon-esque blacklist to keep them away from his campaign.
While Trump has continued to beat the fake news drum as president—he plans to hold a Fake News Awards ceremony on Wednesday—his First Amendment-killing attitude toward the media has reached a new low when he referred to them as “the enemy of the American people” in a since-deleted Tweet.
In light of Trump’s Fake News Awards plan and his “enemy” tweet, retiring senator Jeff Flake plans to speak from the Senate floor about Trump and his threat to democracy. In a release of his planned statement, we see where Flake will be calling out the president for using language reminiscent of that used by Josef Stalin when he described his enemies.
The enemy of the people,” was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017.
Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase “enemy of the people,” that even Nikita Khrushchev forbad its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of “annihilating such individuals” who disagreed with the supreme leader.
After making his comparison of Trump to Stalin, Flake continues:
This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president’s party. For they are shameful, repulsive statements. And, of course, the president has it precisely backward – despotism is the enemy of the people. The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him “fake news,” it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.
While many of my conservative brethren are critical of Flake for making such a comparison—Flake is a RINO, after all—I have to agree somewhat with the senator’s conclusion.
I say “somewhat” because Trump’s fake news spiel is more reminiscent of Nazi Germany when they would refer to the media as Lügenpresse, which translated means “lying press.” And before you comment below or send me a nasty email for making a Nazi reference when discussing Donald Trump, the Trump cult adopted Lügenpresse to attack media during his campaign.
Jeff Flake responded to the uproar over his planned speech, saying that he isn’t comparing Trump to Stalin. Likewise, I’m not comparing him to Hitler. What we’re saying is that Trump shouldn’t be using the talking points of murderous dictators when talking about our Constitutionally protected right to a free press, and when he does it should concern every Constitution-loving American.
While there will be those who will debate these comparisons, Trump’s numerous assaults on freedom of the press are undebatable.
Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.
David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is nationally syndicated with Salem Radio Network and can be heard on stations across America.
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