Big-mouth Donald wants one-way street for speech

Posted by Tom Camfield

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”—First Amendment, U. S. Constitution, ratified 1791.

Bellowing Donald keeps enough major-headline topics in print that a great portion of the public misses the page-4, below-the-fold stuff even if they do skim a daily paper. That’s where some of his dirty little vindictiveness often manifests itself. It’s not the stuff tweets are made of in many cases and generally is not debated on major TV channels. Many meaningful stories also pop up here and there on legitimate Internet sites of proven repute.                                                                                                                                                                  

The on-line headline April 30 read: “Trump administration removes language on freedom of the press from Justice Department handbook.” He’s continuing his hook-or-crook attempts to muzzle the press, which is never going to work. He’s also trying at the same time to dry up whistle-blowing news sources involving government employes. That also is not going to work. 

There is no end to Donald’s egomaniacal petulance. He does love being in the spotlight, but only when he can turn it off and on in rhythm with the stroking of his ego—and the pandering of his dictatorial agenda.     

The public’s right to know will survive. The First Amendment will survive. 

It seems Donald has removed language about freedom of the press from the administration’s guidebook for U. S. attorneys. This manual is a guide to Justice Department policies written for U. S. attorneys  and other department employees. It was edited late last year for the first time in two decades. The significant changes were to the “Media Relations” section—changes experts say reflect a larger Trump administration hostility toward members of the press.

Totally deleted from the handbook is a section that specifically reminded attorneys of the public’s right to know. 

Added to the manual is a section reminding employees to report any concerns to their superiors and requiring them to disclose any contacts they have with the media.

So much for government accountability!

Gone from the government manual is a section on the need for free press and public trial, which previously stated that employees should consider “the right of the people in a constitutional democracy to have access to information about the conduct of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and courts, consistent with the individual rights of the accused”.

Trump has made his disdain for the mainstream press clear, at one point referring to it as “the enemy of the American people”. He has suggested challenging the licenses of television networks that run negative coverage of him, and threatened to make people who leak information to the media “pay a big price”.

On Feb. 17, 2017, Donald tweeted “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” The style apparently has served Donald well over the years, his attempt to erode people’s brains by shouting the same insults and misinformation over and over and over . . . falsely smearing the character of his critics to turn attention away from his own shortcomings. (And someone please tell Mr. Self-Styled “Genius”  that the media are not an “it.” Media is a plural noun, as in “The media ARE . . .”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fallen right in line with Donald on this handbook issue. He said he would review current rules that make it difficult to subpoena reporters for the names of their sources.

An informed public is the foundation of our Democracy. And we won’t get true information merely from Trump’s tweets or planted foolishness disseminated on such social media as Facebook et al. Journalism always has been a mainstay of integrity in our society. 

As long as the press remains free, there will be no place to hide for such lying, self-serving sorts as Donald Trump in our government. His cowardly legions can flood the Internet with all manner of “alternate facts” under organizational titles cleverly constructed to sound patriotic, tweets with cutesy pseudonyms, Facebook propaganda, unsigned emails, etc.—but the thread of truth will survive in the legitimate press. 

WE ALL KNOW by now that any routine news that shines a negative light on Donald is immediately pronounced “fake news” by him. He does not point to any discrepancy in the reported facts; he merely shouts “fake” over and over and over—a Hitleresque ploy that takes root only in dim wits. A textbook example of “transference of guilt” from psychology 101. 

He tweeted back on May 9 (at 4:38 a.m.): “Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why to we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”

There are many problems with that particular load of bull excrement. Like: who determined that 91%? Who reported that figure that Donald tweeted on May 9, 2018?  Coincidentally, a news story of Oct. 25, 2016, began: A whopping 91 percent of news coverage about Donald Trump on the three broadcast nightly newscasts over the past 12 weeks has been 'hostile', a new study finds.” The story explained: “The study, conducted by the conservative Media Research Center, found that not only has Trump received significantly more broadcast network news coverage than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, but nearly all of that coverage (91%) has been hostile. . .” 

Trolls may check that 2016 story at https://www.politico.com/blogs/on-media/2016/10/study-91-percent-of-trump-coverage-on-broadcast-news-was-negative-230297  It contains other interesting comments on the character and tactics of Donald Trump.

Amazing that 91% figure has remained constant over more than 18 months, from before Donald was elected, and he’s just getting around to challenging its authenticity. Or are these just bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings he’s choosing to press into service, totally out of context? (“Just reported,” he said on May 9, 2018, of something reported Oct. 25, 2016, before he even was elected. Doesn’t this all seem a little—oh, I don’t know—fake?)

And just when has he “worked hard with the media?” Reporters are not lying awake nights inventing the stuff that Donald tweets when his aged prostate gets him of bed at 4 a.m. —or what he shouts out at his periodic pep rallies around the country. Taking away the admittance of selected reporters from the White House won’t change reality and make an honest man out of the fake that is Donald Trump. 

Donald has talked before about taking access to governmental activity out of the hands of both newspaper and television reporters. He disparages the First Amendment while standing with the NRA on interpretation of the Second Amendment. He hasn’t hesitated to bar reporters from various of his pep rallies, etc. Here’s the lead-in from a story on Feb. 24, 2017, in The Washington Post: The White House blocked a number of news organizations from attending an informal briefing Friday, a rare and surprising move that came amid President Trump’s escalating war against the media. White House press secretary Sean Spicer banned reporters from CNN, the New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed from attending a “gaggle,” a non-televised briefing, but gave access to a number of other reporters, including those representing conservative outlets. . .”

See more here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cnn-new-york-times-other-media-barred-from-white-house-briefing/2017/02/24/4c22f542-fad5-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.760952da9830

That foregoing ”91%” May 9 tweet came the morning after news broke that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, received $500,000 in payments from a Russian oligarch following the 2016 presidential election. So what is the real news we want to hear more about here—the shady operations of Donald’s cronies or his vague, general ravings about “fake news?” Rate yourself for intelligence on issues such as this. 

And please note, if nothing else, that Donald referred to “negative” and “fake” news as synonymous in his tweet. He’s not too swift mentally or he wouldn’t tweet so readily without much real thought behind it. He’s the guy who’ll be acting all big-shot and meeting soon with Kim Jong Un on nuclear weapons and such things. Oops!

As I’m posting this blog, here’s the latest tweet on “leaks,” thrown into his “fake news” catch-all by the man who just can’t keep his own mouth shut: May 14—“The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over  exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!”So, a “so-called” leak is not a real one? But leakers none the less will be ferreted out and dealt with?

“We are secluding ourselves into ideological ghettos. We have our own news sources. We exchange ideas mostly or exclusively with people who agree with us, and troll those who don’t. Increasingly, we have our own facts to reinforce our convictions and any empirical evidence that disputes them is branded as ‘fake.’ Before I leave I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike that different.”—John McCain

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