The Atlantic published a piece today this Veteran’s Day, a day to honor the veterans who fought for our freedoms like the 1st Amendment, to help explain why our contemporary media are unprepared and will not be able to report on the Trump presidency. Not only are they unprepared, but they are funded by the very corporations who need to be watched. A free press is the backbone of any Democracy, it typically serves as a watchdog a country’s politics, almost an additional branch of government, hence, the 4th Estate.
The bigoted, racist, autocratic demagogue who, by anti-democratic and antiquated Electoral college will be (barring a Divine intervention) our next president. His disdain for the media is not a secret, ironically the very corporate led entity that enabled his campaign and presidency. As president-elect of the United States, he’s back to tweeting and this is what he wrote during the protests last night (Nov. 10th):
“Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”
What is happening now, this new order of government and process forming in Washington post election led by an autocratic demagogue, is not rooted in our history. And we may not have a media, a free press, that can help us navigate our future.
Donald Trump and his surrogates have shown an uncanny ability to lie in the face of objective facts. They will now have the power of the federal government to help them.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, reporters marveled at the ability of Donald Trump and his surrogates to create an alternate reality in which statements made by the candidate had not been made at all—from his view that global warming is a hoax, to his nonexistent opposition to the Iraq War, to his refusal to say he would concede in the event of a loss, to his remarks about his relationship to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. These are people who could argue that the sky is green without a blink. They were able to win a presidential election while doing so. Now they will have the entire apparatus of the federal government to bolster their lies, and the mainstream press is woefully unprepared to cover them.
For Trump administration mouthpieces, both public and anonymous, lies will now come with an officiality that will be difficult to contest. The total Republican control of government means that Democrats will struggle to get their objections to carry much weight, much as they did prior to the Iraq War.
With Trump, the United States has elected a president who has shown a complete disregard for free speech, arguing that his detractors do not have a “right” to criticize him. He believes the First Amendment’s protections for the press are too strong. He has a thirst for vengeance against those whom he perceives as having wronged him, and now he has the power of the federal government to pursue his vendettas. The Bush administration’s ability to manipulate the press, and the media’s willing acquiescence in the name of relating to its audience, led to catastrophe.
I want to emphasize that all administrations lie. The Lyndon Johnson administration successfully snowed the press on Vietnam. The Obama administration continually underestimated the strength of ISIS. With Trump, however, we are entering an era in which a president, prior to taking office, has already shown an ability to be entirely unbound by facts, with no political consequences.
ADAM SERWER – – The Atlantic