We are beginning to see who is the next target in Trump’s attempt to establish his authoritarian government. And, of course, it is the free press. If you want to establish an authoritarian government you must control the media. If you can’t control it, you simply set up a propaganda arm of the government and refuse to talk to the free press.
We saw an example of that with his so-called press conference last week. The room was full of paid staff and supporters who were more than willing to boo hard questions from the real press and cheer his campaign zingers as if he was right.
He refused to take follow-up questions if they challenged his honesty, which is a constant problem in covering this little boy. In an atmosphere of anti-press, it was very easy for him to refuse to take questions from anyone who wrote something he didn’t like. In a press room with just journalists you can’t get away with that.
The idiocy of calling the press “dishonest” all of the time is starting to take its toll on both the press and on Trump. He seems almost afraid to face the journalists whose job it is to get facts on any story. That is understandable since Trump doesn’t usually deal in facts.
Taking a cue from their so-called press conference, the incoming administration is ramping up the heat on the press. First they announced that they would hold press conferences in the Eisenhower Office Building across the street so they could “accommodate four times a many journalists than they can in the press briefing room”.
That is a bogus argument since what they really want is to have a room large enough to fill it with right-wing, alt-right, and paid staff to cheer on the president. The idea that they couldn’t accommodate more people in the press briefing room is ridiculous since President Obama had a whole lot more requests to attend briefings in his first few months of office, and did so in the very room Trump people say is too small.
The second step was to float the idea that they would evict all journalists from the West Wing of the White House and move them to the Eisenhower Office Building and then require them special passes to enter the White House. Those passes would require a separate request for each visit.
The press has had office space in the White House since President Teddy Roosevelt in 1901. Even during the war years the press had offices in the White House. But now, the incoming administration doesn’t want them around.
One of the advantages of having the press in the White House is that they get to build relationships with the administration people. They get to establish what is going on and are able to question visitors as they leave because they are allowed on the grounds to watch the comings and goings.
Yesterday Sean Spicer was asked if they were planning to move the press out of the White House. He went off about the press room being too small. He was then pressed if they planned to evict the press corps from the White House and he said” that hasn’t been decided yet.”
At the same time, a senior Trump official admitted that he considered the press as the “enemy”. What he actually said was: “They are the opposition party. I want them out of the building. We are taking back the press room.”
Of course this all falls in line with Trump’s thin skin and desire to be “loved” by his subjects. One of the first things that needs to be done in order to set up the tyrant’s government is to control what is being printed and said about him.
That is what this entire war on the press has been all about. Whenever someone says or prints something that does not place a halo around the tyrant’s head, they attacked. First on twitter and then by the surrogates.
During the campaign, people like Katie Tur from NBC had to be escorted out of rallies by the Secret Service because of the assaults on her from Trump. Why did he attack her? Because she dared to ask hard follow-up questions he didn’t want to answer or challenged his lack of facts. She wasn’t the only one either.
Then last week he went off on a rampage about CNN comparing them with Buzzfeed. The difference is that Buzzfeed actually printed the unverified dossier about Trump. CNN merely reported that the existence of the dossier was included in a classified briefing to Trump and President Obama as an addendum to let them know it was out there.
Trump has waged a personal war on CNN for a long time now, so he used this report as proof that CNN was “totally against me.” So, when CNN tried to ask a question at the so-called new conference, he refused to take the question and his paid staff members cheered the rejection like they were watching a wrestling match.
We have had contentious relationships between presidents and the press before. Nixon absolutely hated the press, but even he knew that you don’t evict them from the White House just because you don’t like them.
Every time one of the little boy’s surrogates goes on air to defend something he did or said or tweeted, they look more and more like propaganda puppets. They refuse to answer the question asked but rather point the finger at everyone else in the world.
Kellyanne Conway was asked last night if Trump would try to mend the fences with Rep. John Lewis by calling him. Conway tried to, sorry for the use of the word here, legitimize Trump’s tweets by saying Lewis fired the “first shot.” When asked again if Trump would call Lewis to try to mend fences, she responded by saying “we would accept a call from Rep. Lewis”. Meaning, of course that they have no intentions of “mending fences” by reaching out themselves. That might give the impression that Trump might be an adult.
On Friday, this little boy will become our 45th president. He will take the oath of office which says he “swears to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic”. The problem is, you cannot defend the Constitution of the United States against domestic enemies if you are the primary domestic enemy.
Slowly but surely, we are seeing the plans to unravel our liberties and freedoms. By expelling the press from the White House, if indeed that is their plan, is another shot at the freedom of the press. But, if you want to be an authoritarian tyrant, you must eliminate the free press and control what your subjects hear and read.