The Trump administration is infamous for the callous disrespect and childish spite it shows towards reporters and their pesky questions, but a recent incident with a Finnish journalist really exposes the depths of the president and his team’s pathological hatred for the media.
At the beginning of the year, Jessikka Aro was informed by the State Department that she would be receiving the International Women of Courage Award for her work investigating Russia’s infamous “trolls farms” and electronic disinformation apparatus during the 2016 election.
The award would have been some well-deserved recognition and reward for weathering the barrage of death threats and harassment she endured at the keyboards of said Russian trolls for exposing the dark truth behind Putin’s online propaganda machine — but the State Department decided to abruptly rescind the award, claiming “a regrettable error.”
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Insiders tell a different story, however. It turns out that Aro is not the biggest fan of President Donald Trump and has been vocal about her disgust with him and his policies on social media, which officials told Foreign Policy was the real reason for the award’s rescinding.
“It created a sh*tstorm of getting her unceremoniously kicked off the list…I think it was absolutely the wrong decision on so many levels… [the decision] had nothing to do with her work,” groused one official.
There’s no evidence that Trump or Secretary of State Pompeo was responsible for it, but it’s clear that the President’s obsessive hatred for his critics played a significant role in the State Department’s decision, as staffers felt obligated to head off the president’s displeasure and possibly save their own jobs by preemptively blackballing Aro.
Aro was understandably furious. “[When] I was informed about the withdrawal out of the blue, I felt appalled and shocked. The reality in which political decisions or presidential pettiness directs top U.S. diplomats’ choices over whose human rights work is mentioned in the public sphere and whose is not is a really scary reality” said the reporter toFP.
Indeed, we are faced with the truly disturbing prospect of the petty tyrannies of the president and his hyper-sensitive ego are so powerful that they provoke major decisions within the government without Trump even having to involve himself directly.
Aro’s coverage of the Russian propaganda machine is of critical importance to the health of our democracy and of democracies around the world, and she deserves to be celebrated for her efforts — but unfortunately, contempt, petulance, and spite are the animating forces of the Trump administration, and that’s not going to change until we rid ourselves of him for good.