I’m going to start with a conclusion first. I think that mainstream media is being so accommodating to Donald Trump because the billionaires that own them don’t want to pay Joe Biden’s billionaire tax. And I think we’re in some very hot water here — at least hot enough so that like frogs, we’re slowly being boiled to death and we don’t even know it.
Consider that recently we’ve had 60 Minutes normalize Marjorie Taylor Greene and her ignorant and subversive excesses. That was a major mistake — unless it wasn’t a mistake at all. Maybe the financial powers that be want to normalize MAGA madness. Eight men own the same wealth as 3.6 billion of the poorest people on the planet. It stands to reason that this oligarchy would want to control the information that we get. As Orwell said, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” Why would the people in financial control of the present want to do anything else but stay in control?
Then there was the recent ABC/WaPo poll showing Donald Trump up over Joe Biden by 10 and dig this, he’s getting the youth vote. This goes against the grain of how young people have voted in the last three elections, but it does make for good ratings, get the Democrats in a panic and give Trump something to crow about on Truth Social, which I assure you he did.
Then there was the CNN town hall with Trump and Kaitlin Collins, which was a disaster but NBC didn’t see it that way, apparently, because they had Kristen Welker do an encore. So this is the backdrop against which the following has taken place. Disinformation rules the airwaves and lack of clear and honest reporting of what is actually taking place in the world is setting the stage for a fascist takeover of this country, make no mistake. Just look to what Joseph Goebbels did for Hitler in the 30’s and you’ll see the parallel plain as day. Media Matters chimes in with stories that exemplify this premise.
- Politico published an article with the headline “Trump lawyer blasts indictment as attack on free speech,” repeating, without context of its own, those misleading claims by Trump attorney John Lauro. Politico simply transcribed claims Lauro made in a CNN interview: “This is an attack on free speech and political advocacy. And there’s nothing that’s more protected under the First Amendment than political speech. … Our defense is going to be focusing on the fact that what we have now is an administration that has criminalized the free speech and advocacy of a prior administration.” Politico also quoted from a Lauro interview on Fox News: “This is unprecedented. It affects not just Donald Trump — it affects every American who now realizes that the First Amendment is under assault.” [Politico, 8/2/23]
- The Hill quoted Rudy Giuliani saying that special counsel Jack Smith’s “legacy” will be “violating the rights of free speech of an American citizen. … You don’t get to violate people’s First Amendment rights, Smith.” Giuliani, formerly a lawyer and campaign dirty trickster for Trump, is widely reported to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the most recent indictment. [The Hill, 8/2/23]
- The New York Times also wrote an article bearing the irresponsible headline “Trump election charges set up clash of lies versus free speech.” The Times also quoted an interview of Lauro making a similar argument that the indictment attacks Trump’s right to freedom of speech. It also quoted MAGA-aligned Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) saying that Trump had “every right under the First Amendment to correctly raise concerns about election integrity in 2020.” Unlike Politico, the Times did note that the indictment alleged that Trump used his election lies to try to persuade others to commit fraud. The Times also quoted Duke University law professor Samuel W. Buell, who pointed out that “there is no First Amendment privilege for giving directions or suggestions to other people to engage in illegal acts,” adding: “Tony Soprano can’t invoke the First Amendment for telling his crew he wants someone whacked.” [The New York Times, 8/2/23]
Let us be crystal clear here, free speech is one thing, plotting with a group of co-conspirators to overturn the results of an election and taking steps to do so is entirely another. In a rebuttal, the Associated Press pointed out
Mary Anne Franks [George Washington School of Law] arguing of Trump’s election lies, “When you say it to another person and the two of you speak in a way and exchange information in a way that leads to action — that you want to take action to do something with that speech — then arguably it becomes unprotected.”
And it cited Cornell Law School constitutional law expert Michael Dorf, who argued: “Insofar as he’s giving instructions, and planning to do things that are themselves illegal and involve action, like the signing of false certificates and so forth, that’s not a very good defense.”
In criminal law, of course you have the right to buy gasoline, rags, matches and so forth. But when you assemble them together in an old building and set a timer to create an electrical spark. the day after you’ve tripled your insurance coverage on said building, probably when the place burns down you’re going to get charged with arson.
We live in a world where rhetoric and sophistry fill the airwaves, and the mainstream media is indeed owned by uber wealthy people, there’s no getting around that. We’ve seen the havoc that Elon Musk has wreaked with Twitter since he purchased it. Is it such a stretch of the imagination to imagine that the editorial boards and newsrooms are receiving direction from higher ups who want to protect their own interests?
I cringe at the thought that we simply may not have a free press in this country anymore. Maybe it has slipped away from us. Because we saw how Donald Trump was normalized in 2016 and now we see all of the same mistakes being made and worse. How can we have learned nothing in seven years time? That’s enough time for most people to go to college and graduate school. How can we still be as stupid as we were in 2016?
Maybe it’s because we’re not stupid, the mainstream media isn’t stupid either, but it is being manipulated by financial forces which it cannot afford to cross. And consequently truth takes a hit and democracy may be on its way to the ash heap of history.
David Brooks: "This meal just cost me $78 at Newark Airport."
Kathleen Parker: "Hold my beer."
— Dave #VoteBlue (@dwh112655) September 24, 2023
The top tweet is fawning sycophancy. We know that the key to Trump’s “heart” is flattery. That’s a no brainer. And the bottom tweet refers to David Brook’s openly misrepresenting the facts. Yes, he had a hamburger and fries at Newark Airport — and three scotches. That ads up. If he’d had a soft drink, the tab would have been around $20. But Brooks made the crack to infer that inflation is running rampant and it’s not.
If this is what’s coming from top tier media outlets, from reporters and newspapers I was taught to worship in journalism school in the 70’s, we have taken a very wrong turn somewhere. If we have no free press anymore, we are cooked. End of discussion. I can only hope and pray that enough independent journalists can carry the profession forward and keep America informed and thereby free.