President Trump is leading a dangerous attack on the news media, one that could potentially incite some of his supporters to violence. It is a hate movement that the president is deliberately fostering to divert blame by provoking rage among those who believe in him, no matter what.
While that is serious, it threatens more than just reporters who are trying to do their job. It threatens the constitutional protections that are designed to protect us all from tyranny.
On Sunday, Trump and the publisher of The New York Times engaged in a fierce public clash over Trump's threats against journalists, after The Times publisher, A.G. Sulzberger, said Trump accused the paper and other media outlets of putting lives at risk with irresponsible reporting.
However, Sulzberger said he met with the president to raise his concerns about Trump's "deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric," saying his language "was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous."
Said Sulzerber, "I told him that although the phrase 'fake news' is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists 'the enemy of the people.' I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence."
Trump Crowd Chants CNN Sucks
On Tuesday, there was, indeed, a scary incident at a rally in Florida when CNN's Jim Acosta and other members of the media were abused and heckled by Trump supporters. The crowd loudly chanted "CNN sucks" and many angrily brandished middle fingers in the direction of members of the press corps.
Then, Trump's son, Eric, tweeted out video of the "CNN sucks" chant, with the hashtag #Truth, singling out Acosta. That was then retweeted by Trump. Reported the Washington Post, "The president's son is actively encouraging Trump to direct rage and abuse toward working journalists, and the president is joining in, helping to spread the word."
The Post's article, an opinion piece by Greg Sargent, contends that Trump "is actively stoking the anger, with nonstop attacks on the press for the simple act of holding his administration accountable..."
Sargent writes that Trump "plainly sees political gain in provocation on as many fronts as possible," and that "There can be no doubt that Trump sees benefit in riling up his supporters." Sargent says the deliberate goal, as former White House advisor Stephen K. Bannon, has said, is "'to throw gasoline on the resistance."
It is a dangerous game that Trump and his cronies are playing, these attacks against the media. Certainly, they could put lives in danger. But perhaps even more serious is the attack against the First Amendment that Trump's game represents.
Do we really want to live in a country where the only news we are to believe is the news that comes from, and is sanctioned by, the President? If that should ever happen, our country, our freedoms, our democracy, would be imperiled, indeed.