Trump’s “enemy of the people’ attacks teetering on tyranny

Donald Trump has frequently attacked ‘the media’, interchanging ‘fake news’ and ‘enemy of the people’. The latter puts him in quite bad company. Lenin Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, and Hitler, and more recently in Venezuela, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

Trump has been doing it since the start of his presidency.

NY Times (17 February 2017): Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People’

President Trump, in an extraordinary rebuke of the nation’s press organizations, wrote on Twitter on Friday that the nation’s news media “is the enemy of the American people.”

Even by the standards of a president who routinely castigates journalists — and who on Thursday devoted much of a 77-minute news conference to criticizing his press coverage — Mr. Trump’s tweet was a striking escalation in his attacks.

USA Today (24 February 2017): Trump again calls media ‘enemy of the people’

President Trump turned his speech before a conservative convention into a full-throated attack on journalism Friday, saying some reporters make up unnamed sources for “fake news” and again describing them as “the enemy” of the American people.

“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people,” Trump told the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

While praising some reporters as honest, and pledging fealty to the First Amendment, Trump claimed that “the fake news media doesn’t tell the truth.” He said reporters should not be allowed to use anonymous sources, and “we’re going to do something about it.”

And on Friday (2 August 2018):

So Trump has hept portraying ‘a large percentage of the media’ (media that doesn’t say what he wants) as “the enemy of the people”.  This is an insidious assault on an imperfect and essential part of a free and open democracy.

And it is a tactic that has been done by tyrants and dictators in the past.

Brookings: Enemy of the People

In Enemy of the People, Marvin Kalb, an award-winning American journalist with more than six decades of experience both as a journalist and media observer, writes with passion about why we should fear for the future of American democracy because of the unrelenting attacks by the Trump administration on the press.

Shortly after assuming office in January 2017, President Donald Trump accused the press of being an “enemy of the American people.” Attacks on the media had been a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign, but this charge marked a dramatic turning point: language like this ventured into dangerous territory.

Twentieth-century dictators—notably, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—had all denounced their critics, especially the press, as “enemies of the people.” Their goal was to delegitimize the work of the press as “fake news” and create confusion in the public mind about what’s real and what isn’t; what can be trusted and what can’t be.

Image result for cartoon enemy of the people

@BriaanKlaas:

Trump continues to call the press “the enemy of the people,” which is both disgusting and dangerous. To understand why, let’s look at the history of that sinister phrase, who has used it in the past, why, and how it fosters a higher likelihood of violence against journalists.

The modern origins of the phrase are from the French Revolution’s “reign of terror,” when people were beheaded en masse. But it resurged during the Nazi era, when Hitler referred to the “lying press” and called Jews “the enemy of the people.” But, it keeps getting worse.

It’s a Soviet phrase too, something Lenin started and Stalin continued. For Stalin, labeling someone an “enemy of the people,” meant internment at a forced labor camp and sometimes death. The term was *too extreme* for Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced it *in the 1950s.*

Mao used the phrase regularly too to label anyone who opposed his rule as an “enemy of the people.” The consequences of that label were also dire and often led to death. Mao was a murderous dictator who killed nearly 40 million people.

In modern times, other dictators have used the phrase too. Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez labeled critical media outlets as “enemies of the homeland,” in the same vein. Are you beginning to see a pattern in what type of regime calls its critics the “enemy of the people?”

The phrase has also been deployed against the press in places as diverse as Myanmar (when it was ruled purely by a military junta) and Zimbabwe (when it was ruled by longtime dictator Robert Mugabe)

There is a reason that the phrase “enemy of the people” has been almost exclusively deployed by murderous dictators. To use it to describe the free press, which is a pillar of every democracy, is particularly sinister. Trump is borrowing a phrase from the worst of the worst.

In my field research, I’ve interviewed several authoritarian leaders who admit that they do *what they can get away with* when it comes to destroying the press. The White House used to be the deterrent, threatening consequences to regimes that harassed or attacked journalists.

Calling the press “the enemy of the people” encourages violence against journalists in the US. Keep in mind that he has also called the free press “a stain on America,” and “scum.” People listen to him. And a lot of crazy people with guns listen to him too.

Trump’s anti-press rhetoric puts him in a category with Stalin, Mao, Mugabe, Hitler & Chavez. This isn’t partisan. Democracy can’t survive without a free press. Authoritarianism requires the press to be crushed or cowed. Trump’s rhetoric is disgusting, dangerous, and must end.

I doubt it will end. Trump plays by his own rules as much as he can.

And it isn’t just Trump. He has his lackeys supporting his attacks on media – see Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to dispute claim that media is ‘enemy’ of the people.

And Trump has recruited an army of supporters who make excuses and defend his assaults on the media, and attack ‘the media’, and denigrate and try to discredit those who condemn his insidious attacks.

So does he see media that holds him to account is an enemy of his ambitions? Or an enemy of his ego?

I think it’s both. His presidency is teetering on tyranny.

Leave a comment

52 Comments

  1. Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 5, 2018

    The Lefty press are clearly the enemy of Trump’s people and directly serve the “Liberal elite”. They are totally focused on taking him down and have been since he campaigned for office.

    Why do you pretend otherwise?

    Reply
    • I’m very surprised you’ve been sucked into defending Trump unquestioningly, and attack any questioning of his tactics shared by tyrants.

      Or are you the one who’s pretending?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 5, 2018

        I don’t defend him unquestioningly.
        I defend him very selectively only where I think there is another side being ignored. That is quite frequent.

        Reply
        • Joe Bloggs

           /  August 5, 2018

          Bullshit you are his number two cheerleader on this site after David. And you try for the last word in trump’s defence whevever commenters on this site criticise trump.

          You backed trump from the get-go, and have been sucked down the rabbit hole. You’re just too proud to admit it.

          Reply
          • David

             /  August 5, 2018

            The difficulty you find yourself in Joe is that you can find not a single good thing that Trump has done and get all personal at people who dont share your view of him.
            Myself and no doubt Alan can find plenty that Trump has done wrong and some of his comments are outrageous. I dont really take Trump to seriously he is just another President which is a pretty weak role in the American system. I enjoy the entertainment nut he is proving far better than Obama was in actual results for ordinary hard working Americans.

            Reply
            • Patzcuaro

               /  August 5, 2018

              POTUS is a serious role, probably the most watched person in the world. All actions and statements are analysed for meanings and intentions. Unfortunately Trump shots from the hip or more correctly the lip.

              If you are elected and then carry out your agenda that is democracy but Trump lacks the ability to do it without a lot of drama. Not only does he want to get his way he wants to stand on as many toes as possible in doing it. He also wants to appear to have won, if it is pointed out he didn’t win then he attacks the messenger.

              Basically he is tempermentally unsuited for the job.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 5, 2018

            As very wrong as usual, Joe. We watch your protesting squawks emitting from deep in the TDS black hole with wry amusement. Like Hawking radiation they carry no information.

            Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  August 5, 2018

          I’m not quite sure of the correct terminology but Trump is your alter ego or you are living vicariously through him?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 5, 2018

            No more than the media which now exist to carry his reality show and the cartoonists you enjoy who are employed by it.

            Reply
            • Patzcuaro

               /  August 5, 2018

              Trump has a desire to always have the last word.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  August 5, 2018

              Not on Twitter. He has the first word and the loony Left spend the next two days berating it and him.

    • Some supporters are able to see the danger in his attacks on media.

      Reply
      • He cannot blame the press for repeating his words verbatim, which he does. He then tries to deny having said them in the first place. Nothing ever seems to be his fault, of course; one sure sign of a narcissist.

        The constant bleats of ‘fake news’ are wearing very thin.

        He will, I hope, be a one term aberration. The West’s democracy tends not to allow for or take kindly to dictators. It was a great surprise that about 25% of the voters actually voted for him, fewer than voted for Hillary Clinton. It’s an awful lesson on why voting is so important. It’s a privilege and should be taken very seriously.

        Reply
        • I once saw a new story about what Zimbabwe jokingly called an election. One woman who was interviewed had been left with several grandchildren to bring up when their parents died. She had been threatened (death threats) if she voted the wrong way (or possibly voted at all, I forget which) so wasn’t going to, Who on earth would under the circumstances ?

          Then there are people here and in other countries who are too lazy to vote, think themselves clever to spoil the paper and make it not count or see it as a protest not to vote.

          Reply
  3. sorethumb

     /  August 5, 2018

    In the light of the media treatment of Southern and Molyneaux I fully agree with Trump. As I have said before we need a system where people can respond. RNZ allow texting but only they get to see the result.
    …………………….
    Jordan Peterson wipes the floor with Cathy Newman: Dear Dear. Not meant to happen!!? “Break out! Breakout!”

    Reply
    • Southern and Molyneux were given interviews and a chance to speak freely by both our major TV channels. They have been given ample opportunity to respond – more than must fringe numpties get.

      Reply
      • sorethumb

         /  August 5, 2018

        The elephant in the room is that they were prevented from having a venue for their event. They got some time in the media due to the public interest in the controversy started by Goff however the media aren’t some unbiased tribunal. They have an agenda. Paddy Gower referred to one of Molyneux’s reply “a rant” thereby labelling his dialogue insane.

        Reply
        • If the media hadn’t publicised things so much over the last few weeks they would hardly have been noticed coming here. Goff sparked the coverage.

          I think that many people listening to them will think they are disingenuous, or nuts, or disingenuous nuts.

          Reply
          • FarmerPete

             /  August 5, 2018

            Pete you are doing a great job of attacking the person rather than the issue. When you label people like this it gives you the excuse to sidestep what they actually say.

            Reply
            • But Trump attacking the media is the issue here, and it’s a serious issue. It’s not just an attack on journalists and companies and truth, it is an ongoing attack on democracy.

            • FarmerPete

               /  August 5, 2018

              Actually, the reverse is also true. A Harvard study showed that over 90% of all articles about Trump were negative. A larger threat to our democracy than Trumps errant tweets and mutterings is the insidious attack on free speech, and a highly partisan media that doesn’t fairly report facts. There is very little reportage on Trumps success and highly exaggerated reporting on his flaws. I gave up on TV news and the main dailies here about 20 years ago when I realised that almost every news article of importance was coloured with the use of pejoratives that subtly influenced readers. Journalists should get back to reporting facts and let the audience make up their own minds. If you want a real threat to our democracy look no further than facebook, google and twitter, and our main newspapers who simply parrot the garbage from overseas outlets. Not to mention what is occurring on our campuses.
              Let the media tidy up its act and then I will show some concern and support.

          • sorethumb

             /  August 5, 2018

            The poll on Newshub has over 3000 responses and is at 77% in support.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  August 5, 2018

              In support of what?

            • sorethumb

               /  August 5, 2018

              Whether they should be allowed to come here. While that doesn’t mean speak. , the fact that they were allowed to come at all had the hounds baying.

            • Gezza

               /  August 5, 2018

              Well they were allowed to come so that worked out all right.
              They weren’t allowed to speak, so that didn’t.

              We’ve had a bit of an idea of what they might have said & although they got to say a bit to Paddy Gower he screwed that interview up so we never got to hear exactly what Molyneux was trying to say about race & IQ, which would have been good because then people could judge whether he’s just a racist or whether it’s a convenient act, maybe – but he was talking shit about Maori language being taught by force & sounding off like an expert when it was very superficial, with false assumptions, & he knew bugger-all in reality – & that’s par for the course for him.

              Southern didn’t impress as having anything much worth listening to except her warning about Sharia law coming soon. This isn’t Sweden or the UK & I don’t think that shit will be happening here.

              We might get to hear some more from on Sunday tonite but I expect we’ll hear more from the reporter or interviewer than them. We’ll see.

              There might be some Court action by someone forced to refund money to disappointed attendees – but anyone with brains would have insured themselves against that possibility. I don’t think S&M will have lost any money & it’s all good fodder for their brainless acolytes offshore, & any here.

              Hopefully they’ve gone now?

              Islam got a serve. Molyneux & Southern got a serve for being ignorant about here. Radical lefties & assorted anti-free-speech freaks got a serve for being fascists accusing them of being fascists. Others will think it was a victory for free speech against hate speech. I think it was all a circus & the overall impact will be negative for S&M & antifa types.

              We all got a chance to jump up & down here on our respective hobby horses.

              The Minister of Immigration Lees-Galloway came out of it looking like a professional – so that’s one on the board for the government at last.

              All in all not that bad a show as far as I’m concerned. Cost me nothing but time, & a lot of that I’ve quite enjoyed. Checking up on Molyneux’s been instructive. If you’ve got kids I wouldn’t recommend you let them talk to him alone.

            • sorethumb

               /  August 5, 2018

              I can see where you are coming from Gezza but the truth doesn’t change reality. We just need to rationalise.

    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 5, 2018

      A couple of months ago nobody knew who Southern and Molyneux were, now they do. By being prevented from speaking their profile has been lifted, probably by more than if they had actually found a venue.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 5, 2018

        But the only thing that has been debated in consequence is the right to free speech. Had they been allowed to speak the ideas themselves would have been the subject but those have been presented as untouchable and unhearable.

        Reply
        • Joe Bloggs

           /  August 5, 2018

          That’s ironic coming from you. trump’s behaviour shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the role of a free press in a free society. So much for your much vaunted right to free speech.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  August 5, 2018

            Actually Trump’s behaviour shows he understands the free press and society better than most and is playing it accordingly. He is responsible for raising more subjects for debate than most of his predecessors.

            Reply
            • Patzcuaro

               /  August 5, 2018

              He may understand the media and be practiced at using it to his advantage but is he encouraging rational debate or is he inciting civil unrest?

            • Well, he’s not above inciting violence towards hecklers, as has been seen,

      • sorethumb

         /  August 5, 2018

        You will sometimes hear that any biological differences among populations are likely to be small, because humans have diverged too recently from common ancestors for substantial differences to have arisen under the pressure of natural selection. This is not true. The ancestors of East Asians, Europeans, West Africans and Australians were, until recently, almost completely isolated from one another for 40,000 years or longer, which is more than sufficient time for the forces of evolution to work. Indeed, the study led by Dr. Kong showed that in Iceland, there has been measurable genetic selection against the genetic variations that predict more years of education in that population just within the last century.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  August 5, 2018

          What is that – about the 6th time you’ve posted that?
          Obsession, that is.

          Reply
  4. David

     /  August 5, 2018

    Sarah Sanders is the spokesperson for the president so she cant express what her own opinion is that is not what she is there fore, she speaks for the president.
    The press in America has never been more free or robust its tin foil lunacy to think its any different.
    Most of the American media has totally abandoned any pretence of balance with 90% of coverage anti Trump and everyone knows it. Look at the ratings of the cable networks, look at who fills arenas, look at the most popular podcasts and there is a yearn for a more balanced approach to what is going on.
    I listen to Ben Shapiro, s podcast every morning at the gym and sure he is very conservative and is totally upfront about it and he climbs into Trump pretty much everyday, he slays him when he stuffs up and gives him a little praise when he gets it right

    Reply
    • FarmerPete

       /  August 5, 2018

      Between 2013 and 2015 Journalist rated at 23-25% on the most trusted professions (close to bottom). The public’s image of the press was already in the tank before Trump emerged. Anyone who follows the US political scene can’t have missed the recent epidemic of egregious ‘press sins’, including sleeping with multiple sources, colluding with political operatives to sow false narratives in the public debate (far worse than the Russians in my view), quoting sources where none exist, producing headlines that don’t match the story, failing to fact check and just being dead wrong, and failing to retract when an impartial press would have. That is something you can’t blame on Trump.
      Here in NZ we have labelling of people as far right, alt right etc as a way of smearing the person so that there views are easily dismissed. What this tells me is that those reporters just don’t understand what far right is. The identity politics pursued by the left is a larger threat to democracy than Trumps ongoing war with the press. Pete’s cartoon further up the page linking Trump with dictators and tyrants from history is just more of the same and not credible.

      Reply
    • Patzcuaro

       /  August 5, 2018

      The right, including some on this site, also use “labelling” to dismiss people they disagree with, looney left comes to mind.

      Reply
      • You might ask yourself, David, why the press is consistently anti-Trump, The old joke about everyone in the battalion being out of step except one soldier comes to mind.

        Reply
        • David

           /  August 5, 2018

          I think Kitty that you will find your average journalist is from NY or LA they grew up upper middle class and went to university and they will be a typical of all their cohorts and never rub shoulders with anyone not in their elite little group.
          Its a bubble of snobby elitism which is why they are still protesting on the streets after Trump won and they are still perplexed that he rates higher than Trudeau, Merkel, Macron, May and even Obama.
          The left have turned into class warrior snobs.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  August 5, 2018

            That is unproveable, even if I had nothing better to do than investigate it.

            These are all generalisations.

            Reply
      • FarmerPete

         /  August 5, 2018

        Perhaps, they do, but it is far less pervasive than the left, who resort to tags like fascist, nazi, homophobe, sexist, racist, etc to deprive their targets of a right to express an opinion.

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  August 5, 2018

        Unfair. I dismiss them first and only then label them loony Left. And it is almost always the views rather than individuals that I attach that label to. Individuals I normally just categorize as Lefties and presume they wear that proudly.

        Reply
  5. Trevors_elbow

     /  August 5, 2018

    So Pete… we have seen repeatedly Fox and CNN, and others ‘shape’ the news by slanting things one way or the other with misquoted, quotes out of context, camera coverage which doesn’t show what’s going on, completely ignoring some statements which dont fit their narrative, wrapping editorial opinion around a report to slant coverage and push a message, the facial expressions pushing cues to the watch to try and manipulate the viewers response, etc etc

    Hell they have even invented people to push a story

    Fake News is out there. It is the enemy of the people.

    Just because its Trump saying this doesn’t mean he is wrong. The traditional Fourth Estate is failing big time

    Yes it could be a wedge to push censorship and state control… Curran wants to do that here… but the Trump as dictator is again over stretch typical of liberal smear by association attempts…

    Trump bashing is just plain boring. The Dems should be organising on the ground and raising greenbacks to get out the vote not for ever using ambush attacks via their media stooges to try and RIP him over. Nov 2020 is not far off..

    Reply
  6. duperez

     /  August 5, 2018

    Going to be a busy day sorting the news out from the ‘fake news’.
    It’ll be easier to not read anything and have the quandary of deciding whether to believe it or not – I’ll just wait for the President to tell me what’s true. He’ll know. Anyone who gets to be President will be 110% right.

    I mean he sorted out North Korea and their nuclear nonsense.

    “UN experts: North Korea hasn’t stopped nuke and missile programs”

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12101281

    “Trump’s commission finds no evidence on his widespread voter fraud claims”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/106022287/trumps-commission-finds-no-evidence-on-his-widespread-voter-fraud-claims

    🙃

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  August 5, 2018

      The Democrat States refused to supply data and even oppose a census question asking about citizenship.

      Reply
      • I wonder if he did anything about his daughter (and others in the family) being enrolled to vote in more than one place, which is against the law.

        Reply
  7. David

     /  August 5, 2018

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fox-news-reporter-secretly-monitored-by-obama-administration-court-documents/

    Obama took it to the next level and this was far more insidious than calling people out on twitter, he constantly went after Fox and no one feared the end of the 1st amendment. The media,s horse lost the race and they are upset, they have also found their failing ratings revived by going hard anti Trump.
    Trump is as robust as they are and they are having a cry, its also the mid terms and Trump needs to turn out his base and get them excited.

    Reply
    • FarmerPete

       /  August 5, 2018

      He also spied on several journalists, obtained warrants to seize the phone and email records etc. Not much fuss concern for a free press then.

      Reply
  8. Zedd

     /  August 5, 2018

    Politics is supposedly about representing the wishes of ‘We the People’ BUT in some cases it is clearly more about ‘ME the Demagogue’.. no points for guessing a few in recent times !

    Reply
  9. Gezza

     /  August 5, 2018

    Onevof Trumpy’s Troopers triggers a mine

    Trump-supporting grandmother confused as Twitter bot in fake account crackdown

    Nina Tomasieski logs on to Twitter before the sun rises. Seated at her dining room table with a nearby TV constantly tuned to Fox News, the 70-year-old grandmother spends up to 14 hours a day tweeting the praises of President Trump and his political allies, particularly those on the ballot this fall, and deriding their opponents.

    She’s part of a dedicated band of Trump supporters who tweet and retweet Keep America Great messages thousands of times a day. “Time to walk away Dems and vote RED in the primaries,” she declared in one of her voluminous tweets, adding, “Say NO to socialism & hate.”

    Twitter and other sites … have targeted automated or robot-like accounts known as bots, which authorities say were used to cloak efforts by foreign governments and political bad actors in the 2016 elections.

    But the screening has repeatedly and erroneously flagged Tomasieski and users like her.
    More …
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12101460

    Reply
  1. Trump escalates ‘enemy of the people’ to ‘war’ | Your NZ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s