Over the weekend, even as Republicans Senators and Representatives on the talk-show circuit continuously complained that the media paid too much attention to Trump’s tweets, distracting from finely honed GOP talking points, Trump was declaring that his tweets were the most important source of information on Brave New Washington.
The message delivered in this modern style? Violence against the media has the Trump seal of approval.
President Trump, who has reveled in his confrontational style with the news media, sparked fierce debate Sunday over whether he is inciting violence against journalists by posting a doctored video clip showing him bashing the head of a figure representing CNN.
The journalist bashing video originated on a pro-Trump reddit board, where members were excited to see that their work had been given an audience of millions. Trump has frequently re-tweeted comments or images from his supporters in the past, but the reporter-beating clip was a fresh sign of how Trump has enlisted a host of free ‘content creators’ for his use.
Before the election, there was a great deal of speculation about Trump TV—the idea that Donald Trump would leverage his celebrity into a media channel. But that’s not going to happen, because it doesn’t need to. Trump TV is already here. It’s just that each ‘episode’ is 144 characters long. And the people who watch it, are definitely getting the message.
Trump’s ongoing attacks on the fake, fraudulent, failing media filled with dumb, low IQ, psycho, stupid, crazy reporters and tax-dodging, Trump-hating management hasn’t gone unnoticed. Through his campaign, his followers were only too happy to scream threats at the reporters neatly caged up for their entertainment. It’s an attitude that’s only gotten worse at Trump’s series of post election mini-Nurembergs.
An OC Weekly reporter and two photographers said Sunday that they were physically assaulted by pro-Trump demonstrators at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach and are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least one of the people responsible.
Trump’s attitude toward the media is visible in the action of other politicians following Trump’s lead.
Trump’s critics pointed to Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), who body-slammed Ben Jacobs, a reporter for the Guardian, in May — one day before a special election, which he won. Gianforte, who initially denied Jacobs’ account, later apologized to him and was sentenced in court to 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger-management classes.
The assault on the media is both figurative and literal. From Trump’s social media presence to the daily manipulation of the off-again, on-again White House press conference, it’s intended to denigrate, to degrade, to devalue the news media. It’s a game in which Trump walks the line of pretending to honor the First Amendment, while daily working to destroy the value that Amendment was meant to protect.
Trump’s followers are certainly getting the message.