If you take the words of Donald Trump at face value, he has uttered a great truth and, as usual, he has told the truth entirely by accident. In his self-proclaimed war on the media, the so-called President of the United States told his adoring cult members gathered in Maryland last week:
“A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are — they are the enemy of the people.”
And he’s right. Fake news – lies made up by provocateurs for the sole purpose of inciting the uninformed, the ignorant, and the downright stupid – is an enemy of the people because it results in national disasters like the election of Donald Trump as “President.” Fake news purveyors like Rush Limbaugh, Steve Bannon, Alex Jones and Matt Drudge don’t really love their audience members, they actually despise them while they watch them drink the poison they themselves pump out.
Alas, we know that Donald Trump didn’t mean to utter a great truth because when he said “fake news” he didn’t mean his buddies in the fantasy world, he meant the New York Times. And he knows it’s a lie. In fact, Trump hates the Grey Lady because she unwaveringly tells the truth. Oh, sure, the opinion pages lean so far left sometimes even Barney Frank is embarrassed. But the Page One news stories, the national and international news, the economic news, even the society and entertainment news is unerringly and unflinchingly honest and trustworthy.
This is America’s newspaper of record.
It is the standard to which the rest of us try to hold ourselves.
The real news media – that is, what’s known as the “mainstream media,” which is interested in producing a real-time stream of information about events as they occur — certainly is the enemy of misinformation, disinformation, fantasy, and pretense. And if Donald Trump wants to wage war on the real news media, then yes, the press is the enemy of the Trump administration and we’ll wear the label gladly. It’s our job to find out exactly what has happened and report it, and set straight falsehoods presented as if they were true. It’s exhausting work but we do it because someone has to, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s on Facebook, on television, or the front page of a newspaper. Journalists do what journalists do because we have no choice; if, over the long term, we stop telling the truth, the American people will find out and we will cease to exist.
So why do the fantasy websites and Fox News stay in business? I don’t know for sure, but I have a theory. My theory is that 100 percent of American people know that the stuff Breitbart and Drudge and Infowars and Fox puts out is false, but it feels good, so they continue to consume it. It’s like an alcoholic who continues to drink; he knows it’s bad for him and that it alters his reality, but when he’s drunk he just feels so damn good! When he’s drunk he’s smarter, funnier, sexier, and just plain better than when he’s sober, so he just keeps drinking.
The fake news outlets aren’t held to the same standard as the rest of us because everyone knows they’re just booze for the tortured soul. People know the fake news is fake and they know the real news media is telling the truth and that’s why they hate us so much – because when we tell the truth it becomes clear that when people voted for Donald Trump they weren’t nearly as smart or funny or sexy or good as they wanted to think the were.
Criticism of news outlets is nothing new. Walter Cronkite, once called the most trusted man in America, had to defend CBS news against charges that only bad stuff was reported as news. He responded that good stuff is normal and news departments don’t report on normal, they report on abnormal. That’s why news media often present themselves as watchdogs – we only bark when something is wrong.
But this is the first time in history I’ve ever seen the mainstream media actually accused of making stuff up, and it is particularly galling that the charges come in the form of stuff that is itself just made up. Case in point: A New York Times article reported that Gov. Matt Bevin, Republican of Kentucky, “said he was appalled by the ‘unbelievable incessant focus on the most mindless things,’ with regard to how the president is portrayed in the news media. ‘Let’s talk about crime rates. Let’s talk about economic viability. Let’s talk about joblessness,’ Mr. Bevin added. ‘Let’s focus on things that matter and stop being so tabloid-like and titillated by idiocy.'”
Well, all right, Gov. Bevin, let’s talk about “joblessness.” The unemployment rate soared to 10 percent in October of 2009, during the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency. Since then it has trended steadily downward and now has remained between 4.5 and 5 percent since September 2015.
Let’s talk about economic viability. Gross Domestic Product, the government’s primary measurement of the nation’s economic viability, is at its highest point in history. But wages are stalled and most of the wealth has again drifted up into the stratospheric reaches of the hyper-rich, people like Trump himself, who continue to cram their pockets while the rest of us worry about how we’re going to pay for health care.
Let’s talk about crime rates. According to the report released by the FBI in September 2016, crime remains at a 20-year low in America. Now, that’s violent crimes like homicide, rape, and assault, and property crimes like burglary, auto theft, and vandalism. The one crime that’s not going down? White collar crime. Embezzlements, securities fraud, wire fraud, and income tax evasion are at an all-time high, and yet prosecution of the criminals — almost entirely people in upper income tax brackets — is at an all-time low.
So yes, by all means, let’s talk about those things and about what really good shape this country is in. But let’s also talk about the “idiocy” – your word, Governor – that drenches the White House these days. That’s what the New York Times and CNN and the Los Angeles Times and the BBC are talking about. Let’s talk about a so-called president with a fourth-grade mentality, let’s talk about a “leadership” that fails to lead, let’s talk about an administration in which only 36 percent of Americans have any confidence at all.
The war that Donald Trump has declared isn’t just war on the media, it’s a war on all educated, progressive, liberty-loving Americans. As in any war, there are casualties, and some already have fallen. People have withdrawn from the fight, closed Facebook accounts, gone silent in their discussion boards, cut off all discussion of the things that really matter most because they just cannot take it any longer.
They have my sympathy. They are not weak, they are not un-committed, they are just wounded and need time to heal. We need to grant them the peace they need to do so.
As for me, this war is just getting started, and I’m a well-armed and battle-hardened veteran. I’ve been through this, and the way to survive, thrive, and win is to pay attention to fundamentals: Credit all sources, double-check the quotes, and be damn sure of the facts. I’ll fight right here, in our little backwater, which is as precious to me as any homeland ever was.
The so-called president wants a war? He’ll get one.