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.