In all of the ways that Donald Trump’s presidency echoes the failed and disgraced presidency of Richard Nixon, his attacks on the free press are the most pronounced. Historians write that Nixon told the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the press was the “enemy” during the Watergate scandal, and Trump has echoed that sentiment publicly.
However, historians who study presidencies also note that Trump’s particular vitriolic brand of viciousness is unprecedented among U.S. leaders. Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley noted early on in Trump’s term that:
‘There has never been a kind of holistic jihad against the news media like Trump is executing. Trump is determined to beat and bloody the press whenever he finds himself in a hole, and that’s unique.’
On CNN’s Reliable Sources with Brian Stetler, New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet explained exactly how damaging to the nation that vitriol is, and condemned the rest of Trump’s administration for their complicity.
‘It’s out of control, and his advisers should tell him to stop…It’s actually affecting the civic life and debate of the country.’
Baquet was responding to yet another attack by Trump against The Washington Post in a Sunday morning tweet, the news organization owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Trump has not only spread wild misinformation about Bezos – his insistence that Amazon is causing the U.S. Postal Service to lose money has frustrated and confounded his advisers, who say they’ve explained to him repeatedly that this is not true – he has actually been able to affect the stock market in order to lose Bezos money (and in turn, to lose all of the people who work for Amazon money, as well).
To do so in order to punish the owner of a longtime respected publication that refuses to report on the president’s chosen agenda with solely a positive spin is an abuse of power and a grievous attack on the First Amendment.
While Trump’s attacks on the media are echoes of Nixon’s time in the White House, Nixon had no comparable form of state run media he could use to manipulate the public that Trump has, the most popular and well-known of which is Fox News.
Baquet pointed to Trump’s promotion of Fox News as particularly harmful to the American public.
‘If he created a culture where Fox & Friends and Jesse Waters are regarded as serious journalism, and The New York Times and The Washington Post are not, he will have done longstanding, harmful effect on the country.’
See the segment featuring Dean Baquet on Reliable Sources below.
.@deanbaquet: If President Trump creates a culture where 'Fox and Friends' is regarded as "serious journalism," and the New York Times and Washington Post are not, it will have a "longstanding, harmful effect on the country" https://t.co/khOJbYoPoz
— Reliable Sources (@ReliableSources) April 8, 2018
Featured image screengrab via Twitter