The New York Times reported today that the United Nations’ human rights chief Zeid al-Hussein made “an unusually forceful criticism of a head of state by a United Nations official.” He criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for his constant, disparaging remarks directed against the U.S. news media. Indeed, over the past two years, Mr. Trump has often publicly characterized the press indiscriminately as churning out “fake news.” Such repetition is making this expression commonplace in American parlance. Occasionally, Trump adds there are “some good people” in the news media; but most of time he doesn’t. Similarly, President Trump often calls our journalists “bad people,” “dishonest people,” and an “enemy of the people.”
I think all Americans should be quite alarmed at such unprecedented, caustic rhetoric spewing out of the mouth of their president who is supposed to be the leader of the free world. Sometimes, he sounds more like a dictator to me. The president sets the tone for the nation. Do we want our citizenry speaking so negatively about such an important institution to our democracy? By talking this way, President Trump is removing the USA as “the shining city upon a hill” as President Ronald Reagan liked to often describe it.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders immediately responded to Mr. al-Hussein’s remarks with an email, saying, “We believe in free press and think it is an important part of our democracy, but the press also has a big responsibility to the American people to be truthful.” Oh yeah, what about your boss?
I’ve been a devout newspaper reader of international and domestic current events all of my adult life. And because my profession required me to do so much traveling around this country, I’ve read a lot of this nation’s leading newspapers for decades. And just about all of the many journalists I’ve known pride themselves in reporting things honestly and fairly.
As I have blogged before, there is no solid evidence for Donald Trump’s negative comments about our news media. In fact, it is just the opposite. Newspapers often have a section in which they correct anything they published the previous day or more that was false. They invite readers to point out anything they have gotten wrong so that they can correct it. That, folks, is what you call “integrity,” which is lacking in our president. Fake news surely means false reporting. (In case you don’t know, editorials are different; but they still should not include false statements.)Mr. Trump sometimes specifically cites the Times, Washington Post, and CNN as purveyors of “fake news.” I think these are three of the four best and most trustworthy news media organizations in our country. (I would include USA TODAY with them.) In contrast, according to documentation by FactCheck.org, CNN, and the Times, Mr. Donald Trump himself is a huge public liar and never retracts any such lies.
Why is President Trump so incensed with trashing our news media? As I’ve posted before, I think he is trying to prep America to think negatively of its institutions that could find him and/or members of his presidential campaign guilty of collusion with Russian officials to help him win the presidential election. That could lead to criminal charges and maybe congressional impeachment. As president, Trump has done several things that could be rendered obstruction of justice, all having to do with this Russian probe that special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting.
Mr. al-Hussein added, “To call these news organizations fake does tremendous damage. I believe it would amount to incitement…. you don’t have to stretch the imagination to see then what could happen to journalists.” He means violence. He alleged that Trump’s barraging of our press is “poisonous because it has consequences elsewhere. Hussein suggested President Trump could be held responsible if U.S. journalists are harmed. That’s getting pretty serious. Even members of Congress could feel fearful about this, since Trump has them mostly in mind with his popular campaign slogan “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.
The Times then reported that Cambodia’s government recently revoked licenses of Cambodia’s news media and cited behavior of our President Trump for support.