03:11:03 am on
Saturday 14 Dec 2019

Demonising the Media
AJ Robinson

I recall President Obama questioning the impartiality of Fox News. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear him say it. I was just surprised no one brought it up sooner.

• Obama on Fox.

What did surprise me was the number of politicians and pundits who took Obama to task for it. You would have thought he’d attacked the First Amendment itself. Sometime later, Obama went on Fox for a one on one interview with Bill O’Reilly, a man who is many things, but an Obama supporter; a fair or balanced reporter he most definitely is not.

Going on Fox, then-President Obama was trying to show his impartiality. This was confirmation he was open to any news organisation. It didn’t matter if he agreed with the underlying operating principle of the organisation or not.

Flash forward; today we have the Great Orange not merely attacking all of the news media, other than Fox, but also claiming non-Fox new media are the enemy of the people. Wow, I haven’t heard rhetoric like that since Putin, Kim and other tin-pot dictators spoke out. Richard Nixon, at the height of the Watergate scandal routinely attacked certain reporters and, most especially, the Washington Post, but he never launched such a widespread and overarching attack on the Fourth Estate; he knew that the press was important to the health of the nation.

To be honest, given his record of accomplishments, I’m not surprised at the actions of Trump. What does surprise and worry me is no one is calling him on it. I can understand many Republicans remaining silent; they’re spineless, but for none of them to speak, to say one word in opposition is downright amazing.

• Physically assault non-Fox news media.

Then there are the video clips of Trump at a rally where he openly calls on his supporters to assault, physically, members of the media. Once again, this is the act of a desperate dictator, perhaps in some Third World cesspool of a country, not for the President of United States of America. I don’t know which is sadder and scarier, Trump saying such things or his minions y lapping it up; are these people truly Americans? It’s sad, very sad.

I keep coming back to the response of conservatives and Republicans to Obama merely questioning the impartiality of one network. How would they have reacted if Obama had uttered even half of the inflammatory statements Trump has made concerning reporters? To be honest, I think they would have impeached him.

This is yet another reason I worry about the future of our country. Having an entire network that essentially acts as a Trump propaganda machine is bad, calling any news story that criticizes him fake news is worse; relying on alternate facts to support everything from the border wall to caging children to ignoring climate change are truly horrible. To demonise, to seek to tear down the free press is the worst of the worst.

That no voice rises, in opposition to his downright criminal and treasonous acts, is truly pouring salt in the wound. If Trump destroys the media, if Trump can say what he wants, with impunity, it is the first day in the death of the nation.

• Scariest of all.

I never thought I would live to see this. I’m glad my father isn’t alive to see it. Where is this going to go? I honestly don’t know and that’s the scariest thing of all.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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