President Trump can’t seem to pass a day without an attack on the press.
During the last week, he’s taken to attacking Amazon for its use of the U.S. Postal Service as a delivery mechanism, falsely claiming that the deal is unprofitable for the government agency when everyone knows he’s simply using the criticism of the internet retail giant as a proxy for his war on The Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
This morning Trump went after the newspaper directly with an early morning tweet that reiterated his favorite accusation of “fake news.”
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The Washington Post is far more fiction than fact. Story after story is made up garbage – more like a poorly written novel than good reporting. Always quoting sources (not names), many of which don’t exist. Story on John Kelly isn’t true, just another hit job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018
The tweet was apparently triggered by an article The Washington Post published on Saturday entitled “When you lose that power’: How John Kelly faded as White House disciplinarian.”
The article is a long account of the tenure of the White House Chief of Staff from his early days taking over from the chaotic reign of Reince Priebus to his current status of uncertainty about his future role in the Administration.
It paints an unflattering portrait of continuing conflict within a White House in constant upheaval and portrays Kelly as so frustrated with the president after his dismissal of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin that he had to be talked off the ledge of resignation by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Trump seems to want the public to think that because the newspaper doesn’t reveal the names of its sources for these inside stories of the administration that The Washington Post simply makes these stories up out of thin air. In fact, protecting sources is a core principle in journalism since many sources would not reveal the information that they have unless they know that their identities would be shielded to protect them from retaliation for sharing the embarrassing and sometimes unethical or illegal behavior that they have witnessed.
With the truth being Trump’s kryptonite, his denials of the veracity of well-sourced journalism from professional correspondents with years of experience in their craft is meant not for the educated urbane reader who sees his denials as the spin that they are.
Instead, they are meant to try to continue to instill distrust in the media amongst the uneducated, “low-information” voters in his base whom he wants to restrict their information flow to the news he can control, broadcast on Fox News and Sinclair-owned stations.
Trump’s constant attacks on the credibility of the media, at least the media that doesn’t merely re-transmit his lies, are all part of his authoritarian ambitions to become a leader with the same all-encompassing power over information flow that his buddy Vladimir has in Russia with a state-run broadcaster at his beck and call.
The most perplexing thing is why anyone would believe the accusations made by a president who has been proven time and again to be the biggest liar the nation has ever seen.