Fake president, fake news and ‘enemy of the people’

There’s no doubt that US media has dug itself into a big credibility hole. They have records of inaccuracies and bias, with major media like CNN and Fox News clearly promoting leaning heavily in different political directions. And they are in large part responsible for the Trump phenomenon,

But equally responsible for the Trump phenomenon is Trump, but for his successes and excesses.

Trump has used the media, but also battled against the media. He has popularised the term ‘fake news’, which is ironic given the frequency with which he blatantly lies.

He is more of a fake than the news. At least there is a wide variety of news sources, of varying quality. There is only one fake president.

‘Fake news’ has become Trumpian for news he doesn’t want published or broadcast. His continued attacks on media are a major concern in what is supposed to be a free world democracy. He is at risk of becoming a tyrant as well as, being an egotistical boofhead.

He was attacking again yesterday, but trying to qualify his attack after criticism of his labelling the media as ‘enemy of the people’, and encouraging anti-media crowd attacks at his bizarre public rallies.

The Hill: Trump takes us-versus-them media war to new heights

When CNN’s Jim Acosta was booed and cursed at a campaign rally for President Trump this week, many political observers said it exemplified how much the media environment has changed under the current administration — and that it is a sign of what’s to come.

On Thursday, tensions reached new heights when Acosta walked out of the White House briefing room after press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to answer a pointed question about whether she agreed with Trump that the press was the “enemy of the people.”

Acosta noted that Ivanka Trump, earlier on Thursday, had said she did not agree with that sentiment.

Trump has been a president like no other, bending the truth as he sees fit and talking to supporters and bypassing the media with his Twitter account.

Still, he’s been a boon to the media, raising ratings for cable networks that are both supportive and critical of his actions.

It has been an escalation in mutual destruction of credibility. Trump feeds off and feeds the media. The media feast on the beast they have created.

“If you would have asked me two years ago, I would say it’s a bad strategy and he’s not going to win because in previous times it wouldn’t work,” Robert Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said of Trump’s media strategy. “But we’re consistently seeing more and more people for whom that message is working.”

The rising anger has fed worries in some quarters about the possibility of attacks on the press or violence between Trump critics and supporters.

“We can’t shrug off Trump’s attacks on the press. Ever,” Dan Rather, the former CBS News anchor, wrote Thursday on Twitter. “They’re undemocratic and invite, even incite, violence. This bears repeating. It demands repeating.”

There’s a high chance of it resulting in something terrible.  While not directly linked to Trump’s ongoing promotion of dislike and distrust in the media, something that should be of concern has already happened – 5 killed in shooting at The Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland

And it looks like attacking media and lying is part of a deliberate Trump strategy.

An important job for the media is to hold politicians to accou8nt for what they say.

Washington Post: President Trump has made 4,229 false or misleading claims in 558 days

It turns out that’s when the president decided to turn on the spigots of false and misleading claims. As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. In fact, in June and July, the president averaged 16 claims a day.

Put another way: In his first year as president, Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims. Now, just six months later, he has almost doubled that total.

So Trump is continuing what has been a successful campaign against media. That is, successful for his purposes – it is a failure for US democracy.

New Yorker – It’s True: Trump Is Lying More, and He’s Doing It on Purpose.

…the recent wave of misstatements is both a reflection of Trump’s increasingly unbound Presidency and a signal attribute of it. The upsurge provides empirical evidence that Trump, in recent months, has felt more confident running his White House as he pleases, keeping his own counsel, and saying and doing what he wants when he wants to.

At this point, the falsehoods are as much a part of his political identity as his floppy orange hair and the “Make America Great Again” slogan. The untruths, Kessler told me, are Trump’s political “secret sauce.”

That appears to be the case for others on Trump’s team as well. As Kessler and I talked, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, presided at one of her increasingly rare press briefings. (Another metric to consider: Sanders gave three briefings in all of July, while previous Administrations conducted them daily.)

In the briefing, Sanders repeated a number of false claims, including one that Kessler had previously debunked, that reporters put out “leaked” information that caused Osama bin Laden to stop using his satellite phone and slowed the hunt for the Al Qaeda leader before the 9/11 attacks.

Kessler heard about Sanders’s false claim as we were leaving and retweeted his old article. “Kind of amazed but not surprised,” he wrote on Twitter, that the White House press secretary “would cite uninformed reporting that appeared BEFORE I debunked this fable in 2005.”

To me, the striking thing was that Sanders’s false claim was part of her prepared remarks; she read them from a piece of paper in the midst of a press-bashing jeremiad about the evils of what Trump calls “fake news.”

Asked repeatedly Thursday whether she endorses Trump’s oft-stated line that the media are the “enemies of the people,” Sanders refused to reject Trump’s characterization. “I’m here to speak on behalf of the President. He’s made his comments clear.”

The White House assault on the truth is not an accident—it is intentional.

And part of the war is a battle between media. CNN’s Jim Acosta calls out Sean Hannity for ‘injecting poison into the nation’s political bloodstream’

Jim Acosta, the chief White House corespondent for CNN, attacked Sean Hannity Wednesday night after the Fox News host voiced his support for an angry mob that heckled members of the media covering President Trump’s rally in Florida earlier this week.

Acosta was responding to a monologue Hannity delivered to open his show Wednesday night, where he referred to the White House correspondent as a “professional Trump-hater over at ‘fake news’ CNN.” Hannity did call out anyone who would act violently towards reporters as “no friend of mine,” but later in the show he turned to former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who suggested Acosta deserved the angry reaction.

“If Jim Acosta has a problem with some of the ability of people to express themselves he should look at his own unprofessional and disrespectful behavior,” Spicer said. “Look in the mirror and wonder whether he’s part of the problem.”

Ex White House spokesperson and trump apologist Spicer should know what it’s like being a part of the problem.’

A short time later, Hannity responded to Acosta’s attack in his own tweet, telling the CNN reporter that “people see through your lying bulls– for what it is.

Acosta, who was among the many reporters in Tampa, Fla. covering the Tuesday rally, shared several videos prior to the president’s speech that showed angry attendees hurling insults and making obscene gestures towards reporters. In one, Acosta is seen taking a photo with a father and his young daughter as Trump supporters scream, “CNN sucks!”

Trump himself shared one of Acosta’s videos of Trump supporters at the rally to his 53 million Twitter followers, retweeing his son Eric, who added the hashtag #truth.

“Honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore,” Acosta told HLN host S.E. Cupp on Wednesday. “He is whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point where they really want to come after us.”

A short time later, Hannity responded to Acosta’s attack in his own tweet, telling the CNN reporter that “people see through your lying bulls– for what it is.

Acosta, who was among the many reporters in Tampa, Fla. covering the Tuesday rally, shared several videos prior to the president’s speech that showed angry attendees hurling insults and making obscene gestures towards reporters. In one, Acosta is seen taking a photo with a father and his young daughter as Trump supporters scream, “CNN sucks!”

Trump himself shared one of Acosta’s videos of Trump supporters at the rally to his 53 million Twitter followers, retweeing his son Eric, who added the hashtag #truth.

“Honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore,” Acosta told HLN host S.E. Cupp on Wednesday. “He is whipping these crowds up into a frenzy to the point where they really want to come after us.”

Trump’s success is based on attack, which in turn is often based on brazen bullshit. He has come after Republican opponents seeking Republican presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, the FBI, NAFTA, North Korea, China, Mexico, immigrants, Iran, the European Union, and of course any media that criticises him and doesn’t praise him.

This is an insidious assault on democracy.

It isn’t ‘draining the swamp’ as Trump promised, and some probably still believe.

Trump is creating his own cesspit of bullying and lies.

He has had some successes, both because of this approach and despite this approach. But the chances of failures are high and rising.

Like any political leader Trump should be challenged and held to account by the media.

The media in general has a responsibility to be accurate and reasonably balanced. But the same should apply to the president.

When both the president and the media focus too much on fake sideshows then US democracy is the poorer for it, and they are setting an awful example to the world. And an increasing risk to the world.

Trump is winning some battles, and is keeping an army of unquestioning supporters. But the war on democracy looks like a race to the bottom, and it’s unlikely to end well.

Leave a comment

42 Comments

  1. Patzcuaro

     /  August 4, 2018

    Another Trump Tower rises skyward.

    Reply
  2. Trevors_elbow

     /  August 4, 2018

    Trump is being deliberately Trump. Wapo, NYT, MSNBC, CNN have all been caught shaping the story many times now all angling to be the the Left/Liberals who topples the Trumpian monster who beat the pal Hilary…

    If Acosta wants respect… maybe report a balanced view and stop trying to be an opinion shaper….

    Reply
    • If Trump wants respect maybe he should stop lying so much and stop attacking and provoking and dividing so much.

      Reply
      • Trevors_elbow

         /  August 4, 2018

        Yeah yeah Pete… cuts both ways. The news media are regularly frisked here and overseas fibbing (Time child crying picture re illegals being locked up), telling half truths and omitting facts or cutting picture angles to sell their story (gee virtually ever pimp the poor story in NZ. )

        They have brought this on themselves by being more and more brazen with their attempts at control and spin.

        Have set up a flim flam man/salesman like Trump perfectly… reap what you sow

        Reply
        • Funny you accuse the ‘news media’ (which is actually quite diverse) of being brazen.

          Why don’t you cut it both ways then. Or do you blame the media entirely for Trump lying stirring up division and ‘enemy of the people’ crap?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 4, 2018

            He means they are the enemy of his people and they frequently demonstrate that.

            Reply
            • So it’s a sort of civil war that he’s stoking?

            • Oh, and how do you know what he means on any given day, apart from media bad, Trump wonderful? Even his officials and spokespeople have difficulty knowing what he means.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 4, 2018

              I said long ago the US is consumed in a civil war and got disbelieved.

            • Gezza

               /  August 4, 2018

              It’s not a civil war. That’s why you got disbelieved. It’s not true. You canno misunderstand what a civil war is. Given that you claim to be a scientist & should therefore know to be very precise with words & their meanings I conclude that you are allowing your political bias to override your respect for truth.

            • Gezza

               /  August 4, 2018

              *cannot

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 4, 2018

              Ok, it’s an uncivil unwar. Definitely a thing.

            • Gezza

               /  August 4, 2018

              I win again.

            • Gezza

               /  August 4, 2018

              And I’ve only got UE.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 4, 2018

              Good. I wouldn’t want to see you with a gun.

            • Gezza

               /  August 4, 2018

              You wouldn’t. I know about camouflage.

          • FarmerPete

             /  August 4, 2018

            Actually Pete, he has always said ‘fake news’ is the enemy of the people, not news media per se. That is an important distinction that gets lost because it suits the media to mis report it.

            Reply
            • He often refers to a wide swath of media generally as ‘fakes news’.

              Like:

              So he is painting all of them as ‘enemies of the people’. That’s a dangerous road for a president to travel.

            • FarmerPete

               /  August 4, 2018

              Actually, everyone of those tweets specifically says ‘fake news’. If those organisations he referred to were real news organisations they would show more concern for journalistic integrity and issue corrections and apologies when they get it wrong but they don’t. Instead, they lead with inflammatory rhetoric, and they have an adversary who is no cowed and is actually beating them at their own game.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 4, 2018

    Politics is war by other means. That’s what is happening here.

    Reply
    • David

       /  August 4, 2018

      The unusual thing in the US is that it was the media that declared war and when Trump push,s back they have a cry.

      Reply
  4. FarmerPete

     /  August 4, 2018

    Trump hatred makes otherwise sensible people stupid! The media has a very large role in this. Stoking Trump hatred has been good for ratings and flagging circulation. You can accuse Trump of gilding the lily but the list of outrageous and faslse claims by the media is also impressive.

    Reply
    • I don’t hate Trump if that’s what you’re angling at. But I’m prepared to call his crap, as well as media crap, and US democratic dysfunction, as I see it. Observations, not feelings.

      “Trump hatred makes otherwise sensible people stupid! ”

      You’re aware it could also be said that blind Trump defence makes otherwise sensible stupid?

      Reply
      • David

         /  August 4, 2018

        90% of Trump coverage is negative, CNNs ratings are down 30% this year, Fox has the top rating shows across cable and their coverage is 50/50 according to the Harvard study, Trumps approval ratings at this stage of his presidency according to Rasmussen are 5% higher than Obamas.
        Its a great time to be alive people should just spend a few minutes and look at how great things are doing in America rather than getting all hurty about a brash and unusual approach tp political discourse.

        Reply
        • “their coverage is 50/50 ”

          Depends on how that is measured.

          I get the Fox twitter feed and it is rarely negative for Trump, and frequently pretty much a promotion of Trump and issues Trump promotes.

          I’m not hurty about anything, but I don’t think one of the most powerful leaders in the world should be a habitual liar and stirrer and bully. I don’t think there’s any excuse for it (but am aware quite a large minority in the US, and some here, excuse him for just about anything no matter how outrageous or outlandish).

          Reply
          • Patzcuaro

             /  August 4, 2018

            I image Trump has always been a bully, he is just on a bigger stage now. Putin is no better, the winners will be China long term

            Reply
          • David

             /  August 4, 2018

            I certainly dont agree or support everything he does but find the coverage hysterical (not here Pete) and ridiculous and totally lacking in any balance.
            For example when he threatened tarrifs on the EU the world economy was to collapse etc etc and when Juncker turned up and said OK we need to listen to Trump and lower tariffs there was little or no coverage.
            How much coverage has there been of the return of soldiers remains from N Korea or that N Korea hasnt launched a missile or tested a nuke since Trump went after “little rocket man” hard last year, well we had plenty of coverage back then he was about to trigger WW3.
            I visit the US regularly and its booming, I have been there under Obama when racial tensions caused rioting and more people were being shot in Chicago than Iraq, when health insurance premiums were doubling and the opiod epidemic has actually lowered life expectancy.
            Obama was unpopular because of his terrible performance which the media ignored because he was a nice guy. Trumps performance is pretty good in comparison but the media crucify him for his fruity language and NY approach. Words not deeds…which matters more and if you cover one shouldnt you cover the other.

            Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  August 4, 2018
          Reply
      • FarmerPete

         /  August 4, 2018

        I meant the ‘royal’ you. Apologies for not being more specific. Also, I was not meaning to including you in my opening sentence. It was a reference to the feverish and patently false headlines that have been generated every day of his presidency (eg removing MLK bust from display) by US media and then regurgitated around the world. I read US media daily and most anti Trump invective published by esp the Washington Post is recycled on Stuff, NZH and SMH without any critical analysis. There is a tremendous amount of low standard reporting and passing off opinion as journalism.
        Can you imagine a NZ prime minister tolerating the nonsense dished out by drama queens such as Jim Acosta? How do you think Winnie would handle it?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 4, 2018

          Winnie’s not averse to fake news. In fact he’s been something of an exponent of it over the years. Also of doing 180s, and 360s, Sometimes even 540s.

          Reply
  5. Reply
  6. David

     /  August 4, 2018

    Massive employment figures out of the US this morning, lowest ever Hispanic and black unemployment numbers on record. With tax cuts and wage growth there arent many Americans who care if CNN have their feelings hurt hence their plummeting ratings.

    Reply
  7. Zedd

     /  August 4, 2018

    I hear it.. I see it… BUT.. I dont believe it !
    MrT that is.. 😀 😀

    old political saying: ‘believe half of what you see & nothing of what you hear’ :/

    Reply
  8. Joe Bloggs

     /  August 4, 2018

    When you’re a professional liar like trump, the truth is the enemy.

    Reply
    • I was expecting someone to mention his lie about how the Queen (seen standing for 15 – 20 minutes, looking at her watch) kept HIM waiting,

      Doesn’t he think that anyone saw the video of her, at 92, standing waiting for Trump to deign to appear ? Or that people didn’t know how long they were together later ? (an hour according to him, 20 minutes according to everyone else)

      Liars should have good memories. He doesn’t have a good enough one to be a successful one.

      Reply
      • David

         /  August 4, 2018

        Rubbish,

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  August 4, 2018

          No, David and the 5 PDTs, it’s not rubbish. He is on record as saying it.

          How can five people disagree that liars should have good memories ? It’s surely a basic requirement. YNZ’s resident troll has demonstrated this many times.

          Reply
  9. Reply
  10. Joe Bloggs

     /  August 4, 2018

    It’s interesting how trump can so easily stir up hatred and incite a crowd to near violence, but he’s not a real “leader” capable of uniting folks toward anything positive.

    Reply
  11. Joe Bloggs

     /  August 4, 2018

    He’s built his message on what fires up his crowds. But what else are they except rabid hoards of haters? He can’t even inspire them, except with his tired, already disproven lies. He struts and preens and regurgitates them; they thrill to the mesmerizing vibes of their hypocritical hypnotist. But it goes nowhere. It’s a movement of emptiness and anarchy. And Trump can’t get anywhere with a message of “Russophilia” – how ironic.

    Reply

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