U is for Unbelievable

FC5E22B5-CDE1-48D8-BF05-36AA79011F28Donald Trump is once again not going to the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner this coming Saturday, calling it “too negative.” This will be the third year in a row that the President has refused to attend the dinner.

But this year he is expanding his boycott of the annual press gathering. White House aides told administration officials and staff, some of whom attended last year’s event, that Trump did not want them to attend this year’s.

“The President and members of his administration will not attend the White House Correspondents Dinner this year,” the White House said in a written statement. And it appears that officials will heed the president’s order.

Unbelievable. Trump is the first president ever to order administration officials to boycott the dinner. He is also the first president since Ronald Reagan to not to attend the dinner. Reagan missed the event in 1981, when he was recovering from an assassination attempt.

So why the boycott by Trump, members of his administration, and White House aides?

First, Trump hates the free press, calling reporters and journalists “the enemy of the American people” and purveyors of “fake news” (i.e., anything not flattering to Trump).

Second, Trump is extremely thin-skinned and hates it when anyone pokes fun at him or makes jokes about him.

I saw a quote the other day from Arthur Koestler, a Hungarian-British author and journalist. He wrote, “Dictators fear laughter more than bombs.”

There’s little more you need to know in order to understand why Donald Trump, as President, has never attended the White House Correspondents Association dinner. He fears being laughed at.

I’d say that this is unbelievable, but in the Trump era, it is all too believable.

Previous A to Z Challenge 2019 posts:

Enmity Toward the Press

0bcfb788-a484-4d91-8e3e-f7faf0c722cdHe calls the stories in newspapers, magazines, and on TV about him “fake news. He refers to the free press as “the enemy of the people.”

But in a way, I understand Donald Trump’s enmity toward the press. After all, they call out his lies, they fact check his “alternative facts,” and they demonstrate just how unhinged, unfit, and unqualified he is to hold the office of President of the United States.

By printing what he says and does, by video taping his own words, by counting his lies, and by documenting his misstatements and fabrications, the press is demonstrating the depth of his narcissism, his lack of knowledge, his inability to be empathetic, and his moronic delusions.

By quoting him, the press is showing that he has an inability to construct cohesive sentences, which is not surprising, given the clearly chaotic way his mind works.

Unfortunately and inexplicably, about 40% of American voters hang on his every word and believe every lie that escapes his lips. Apparently, if they even watch news, it’s only Fox News. And if they even read newspapers, it’s only conservative newspapers.

So the master of the con continues to carry on and we just have to hope that the press will continue to do the job that the Republicans in Congress seem to be unable and unwilling to do: keep the president in check for the good of the country.

Written for the benefit of America and for my one-word challenge (enmity).

Free Press Protest

8333C3D0-C775-4349-BDB5-1A9763F2C40DDonald Trump has been accusing the mainstream media of spewing fake news and has called the free press an enemy of the American people. In response, an estimated 300 newspapers have signed on to a call from the Boston Globe for a coordinated editorial campaign in today’s editions as a way to protest against President Trump’s “dirty war on the free press.”

Naturally, I assumed that, when I opened my paper this morning and turned to the editorial page, I would see a well-crafted, engaging defense of the free press. After all, I live in San Francisco, the heart of the resistance.

But no such editorial was there. WTF? So I went to the newspaper’s website to see if maybe they published the protest editorial there. Nada.

But I did find an article attempting to justify why the editorial board of the Chronicle did not join the protest.

“It’s not that we take issue with the argument that Trump’s assault on the truth generally, and his efforts to diminish the free press specifically, pose a serious threat to American democracy,” the article said. “We wholeheartedly agree with Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe’s deputy editorial page editor, that such unprecedented attacks on press freedom by the president of the United States ‘are alarming.’”

The concern, according to the Chronicle article, is that “it plays into Trump’s narrative that the media are aligned against him” and that Trump will use that as an excuse to spew out tweets accusing the fake news media of collusion and anti-Trump bias. “He surely will attempt to cite this day of editorials to discredit critical and factual news stories in the future, even though no one involved in those pieces had anything to do with this campaign,” the article suggested.

“Our editorial page will continue to speak out against this president’s war on the free press. Our silence on Thursday is testament to our commitment to do it in our own way, on our own timetable.”

Personally, I disagree with the position the newspaper’s editors took to not participate in this organized protest. Sure, Trump will probably lash out at those newspapers for speaking out against him. That’s what he does. But should that threat render us silent? Should anger or retaliation on the part of our unhinged, incompetent, vindictive president cause us to stop protesting what he’s doing to our nation?

I don’t think so. What do you think?

Should the Press Boycott the President?

US-POLITICS-TRUMPI read this post yesterday from the excellent blogger behind Write Brain Widow. It’s all about what is happening to America’s free press. And she posted it in August 2017. I wrote in my comment after reading her post, “You wrote this almost a year ago and it still applies today, only things have gotten even worse for the media due to the instigator-in-chief and his inflammatory rhetoric.”

One of her memorable lines in her post was, “Like a mirror, the news is only your enemy if what you see or hear isn’t true, not if it’s just not what you want it to be.” Our president (and I use the terms “our” and “president” loosely) doesn’t like what he sees and hears (I’d say reads, but I’m not sure he actually reads anything other than his teleprompters, and he doesn’t even do that very well), not because it isn’t true, but because it’s not what he wants it to be. And so he lashes out at the press, claiming everything they say about him that he doesn’t like is “fake news” and calling the reporters and journalists “the enemy of the American people.” His rhetoric is actually putting members of the press in jeopardy.

Write Brain Widow responded to my comment on her post by writing,

“I always wonder why the media doesn’t rise up, doesn’t boycott the so-called press conferences, and the ego-stoking rallies; why every legitimate media source doesn’t strike back each time the hateful barbs are thrown. It may not change anything but now, though they take the ‘high road’, their silence is deafening.”

I agree “bigly.” I also wonder why the members of press still attend the White House daily briefings when they know that the smokey-eyed, snide press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is going to lie to them and demean them. Why does the press attend Trump’s rallies, when all he does is spew lies and hate and inflame his lemmings against reporters?

Interestingly, I read this morning’s newspaper column by Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco, and he asked the same question. Why doesn’t the press boycott him?

“No reporter or news organization should show up for the White House briefings or for his appearances. Little of value comes out of them anyway.

“All the reporters assigned to the White House could be reassigned to cover the federal agencies where the action really is — the ones that are implementing Trump’s avalanche of executive orders.

“White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would probably welcome it. No longer would she have to embarrass herself by being asked about facts and having to respond with Trump’s fantasies.”

Trump said that we shouldn’t believe what we see, read, or hear. We should, he said, believe only him, the liar-in-chief.

As the Write Brain Widow said at the end of her excellent post, “Remember, it’s rarely true that no news is good news.”

Chipping Away at the Fouth Estate

89C7E486-BB48-4F09-9D7E-A8345427C1F9Are you ready for this? According to a new public opinion survey conducted by Ipsos, 43% of Republicans think Donald Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior” (i.e., being critical of Donald Trump). This includes media outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

In addition, 48% of Republicans believe that the news media is “the enemy of the American people.” And 80% of Republicans said “most news outlets have a liberal bias,” while 79% of Republicans said that they believe that the mainstream media outlets treat Trump “unfairly.”

I don’t know about you, but I find this very sobering. It illustrates how effectively Trump’s anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion — at least among Republicans — about the role the media plays in covering his administration.

Censoring the press and shutting down news outlets is a tactic used by autocratic and totalitarian regimes in order to silence political enemies, dissidents, and the opposition. It is not something that one would expect from a free and democratic society.

In fact, freedom of the press is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd said,

When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.

You may recall last month, when Trump was speaking before a group of veterans, he said, “Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” He followed that up by saying, “And just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

Yesterday I wrote a post, “Hook, Line, and Sinker,” in which I lamented, “The sad and disturbing thing is that too many people are buying — hook, line, and sinker — what this con artist [Donald Trump] is selling.”

This Ipsos survey demonstrates just how naive and gullible (and either brainwashed or brain dead) Republican voters have become.