Young: If it’s an ‘enemy,’ why must press serve as Trump’s chump?
Questions to ask after one month of Trump:
— Is Stephen Colbert our new Edward R. Murrow?
— Is Stephen Miller a human or a hologram?
— The same for Kellyanne Conway: real or Memorex?
— If the media are, as Donald Trump says, enemies “of the American people,” why are members of the press genuflecting at his knee? Why are they indulging him at all?
What would Ed Murrow say about Donald Trump? I promise you it would be curt. In 1953, the CBS icon initiated Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s fiery fall from eminence by assailing his “hysterical disregard for decency and human dignity.” Sixty-four years later, and on the same network, Stephen Colbert is taking on a president and his mouthpieces who show hysterical disregard for truth. Take Stephen Miller, the aide Trump sent out to the Sunday news shows for one of the most bizarre televised performances in U.S. history.
I say “sent out.” We cannot be sure whether Miller has actual legs, or was rolled out, or if he exists as a URL — built by computer scientists who have come up with what a lie looks like in human form. Miller said that without a doubt thousands of voters from Massachusetts were bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally for Hillary Clinton. Uh, yeah. He said he would go to “any show, anytime, anywhere” to say that. Colbert invited him: “And, listen, if you don’t show up, I’m going to call you a liar. And if you do show up, I’m going to call you a liar to your face.”
Well, surprise; no-show Miller is a liar. The only real question is if he’s a man or a humanoid projection. Trump? He tweeted huzzahs for Miller’s stone-faced fraud. At any other time in our nation’s history, such behavior instantly and irrevocably would have disqualified someone from public office. Not, apparently, now. By the time the Trump presidency is done, lies will have become such a seasoning as to join salt and pepper on every dinner table. At his Feb. 16 press conference, Trump said he’d won more electoral votes — 306 — than any president since Reagan.
Informed by a reporter of President Obama’s 365 votes in 2008 (not mentioned: Obama’s 332 in 2012), Trump said he meant “Republican presidents.” Informed by the same enemy, er, reporter, that George H. W. Bush won with 426, Trump said, um, he was working with numbers someone else gave him. Ah, those fact-fixated enemies: When CNN, which Trump deems the devil, reported these matters online, it didn’t say he lied. It said he had “again overstated.” Go ahead, CNN. Say he lied, because he did. To hear Trump explain the dumping of national security adviser Michael Flynn, it was not because of what Flynn did — engaged in diplomacy on Trump’s behalf before the latter took office — but because we found out about it.
Oh, wait; according to too many press accounts, Flynn was dumped because he misled Vice President Pence. Except: Trump was told by intelligence 17 days before Flynn’s ouster about these things. So if Pence was in the dark, it wasn’t Flynn who put him there. Trump did it. The scandal is not about an affront to Mike Pence’s sensibilities. It’s not about aides interacting with Russia. It’s about whether Trump authorized it. Report this. Probe this. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” says it no longer will indulge Trump mis-spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway, whose sole contribution to planetary life stands to be the term “alternative facts.”
Such media resistance needs to happen more often. A boycott of Trump press conferences is in order, as would be a walk-out the next time the prevaricator-in-chief reduces fact to factory fumes. A lie is a lie — a distinction that shouldn’t be left up to late-night comedians.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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