Donald Trump’s Bible thumping photo-op has turned into a public relations catastrophe. The New York Times reported that it was the brain child of Hope Hicks, now back at the White House after her brief sabbatical at Fox News. To do the photo op setting the stage for Project Themis, where divine law and order is restored, it was necessary to clear Lafayette Park of protesters and somebody in Trump world made the decision to use tear gas — and now the Trump campaign is all over media outlets getting them to print retractions and say it didn’t happen, even though live broadcasts clearly showed that it did.
INBOX: Trump campaign orders the media to “correct or retract” reporting that accurately described yesterday’s protests, live footage of which plainly showed viewers what happened. pic.twitter.com/ly07TODYlC
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) June 2, 2020
That was followed up by the Trump campaign sending out this note to media outlets. This was received by Media Matters, who told them “no,” they weren’t going to turn into Sean Spicer.
Hope you all are doing well, staying healthy and safe.
Saw your piece this morning on the use of tear gas at Lafayette Square. Wanted to make sure you saw our official statement on the false reports and would appreciate it if you would retract and correct your piece.
As always, happy to be a resource for you.
And this is Media Matters’ rationale.
Our response: No.
The Trump campaign is currently pressuring journalists and news outlets, demanding they issue retractions and corrections. None of them should cave to the pressure to deny well-established reporting.
One day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, we warned, “Journalists need to recognize that they are dealing with proto-fascist conditions. Accordingly, they must stiffen their spines and stand up for their profession and the truth.” That warning echoes even louder in this moment.
Any journalist or media outlet that revises their original reporting based on nothing more than Trump’s assertions will have essentially morphed themselves into a cog in Trump’s authoritarian propaganda wheel — no better off than Sean Spicer the night he infamously lied about Trump’s inauguration crowd size.
Here are some facts about the government’s actions at Lafayette Square on June 1 and the U.S. Park Police’s absurd statement on June 2 that the Trump campaign is citing.
On the Park Police statement:
1. They admit using pepper agents to disperse protesters
2. Witness accounts, including from journalists on-scene, indicated protesters were peaceful until the police attacked without warninghttps://t.co/6Bpij3bsUn
— Alex Wayne (@aawayne) June 2, 2020
This clip is a good synopsis of this story. In particular, go to 1:54 and watch the White House’s version of Donald Trump, Man of God, making his pilgrimage to the church, complete with organ music. Sweet Jesus. This belongs in a remake of The Exorcist.
“You could hear the flash-bangs from inside the White House as they were going off.” @kwelkernbc reports on police in D.C. firing tear gas and pepper spray at peaceful protesters just moments before President Trump walked across the area to take a photo at St. John’s Church. pic.twitter.com/4RPF9ObSYk
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 2, 2020
This next clip is good as well, because the reporter says that while he’s listening to Trump talking in his ear about law and order, “I was watching people fall down, I was watching people get pushed aside … they were using flash bangs and tear gas.”
.@GarrettHaake describes law enforcement response to D.C. protest: "It was by far the most peaceful day of protest that we've had in D.C. … Before the curfew was into effect, we had mounted federal police … clearing people out of the street." pic.twitter.com/HZ6y32C0Xu
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 2, 2020
This is what this distills down to: We have an administration which is so corrupt that it would have you expect that reality is now nothing more than a liar’s context and people who buy Fox News’ version of life are being told the truth and the rest of us are being lied to by the Forces of Evil. Anybody who opposes Donald Trump is evil per se. That is what we are being asked as a people to swallow.
I cannot do better than to quote George Orwell.
“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
—George Orwell https://t.co/OhqKrU0PBE
— David Priess (@DavidPriess) July 24, 2018
Trump made the comment while telling his whopper about tariffs not being a tax, but a way of getting China to write huge checks, to the VFW. The message that day was clear: Trump needs you to ignore the reality of your own senses and believe in him. He wants to be Big Brother.
And his Team Trump campaign is hoping that they can rattle media organizations into printing the lies that Trump and his campaign want them to print, to make Trump look good. The jaw drops.