A new U.S. president takes power, and his government immediately declares war — against the American media.
Really, how much of a honeymoon were we actually expecting from this shotgun wedding anyway? Even so, where in the hell does this go from here?
In what sounds eerily like a statement from Russia or China, President Donald Trump’s hired guns said Saturday and Sunday that the new leader is displeased with the accurately unflattering reporting of Inauguration Day crowds. Newly minted Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer unleashed a tirade on reporters, insisting that they should, instead, report a collection of provable lies, all because Trump was clearly embarrassed by the showing up for his swearing in.
This is not even the slightest hyperbole. This is how frightening this has become — on day two.
Trump adviser KellyAnne Conway later defended Spicer’s lies, and insisted that his inaccuracies were instead, “alternative facts.”
Alternative facts. Honest to God, she said that. She meant that. That’s what your federal government is going to say when verified statistics later show that no manufacturing jobs have been created, but the Trump Administration says they’ve created millions with an average wage of $59 an hour. The media lies, and Trump presents “reality” with his “alternative facts.”
Wait, there’s more.
They both have repeatedly and chillingly said that the new Trump government will hold the media “accountable,” without saying what that might mean.
“We might have to rethink our relationship with the media,” Conway later told the Washington Post on Sunday. You mean it’s going to get worse?
Seasoned journalists from left, center and right media sources were aghast at the dressing down, the lies and the insistence from Spicer of what the media “should be covering.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said.
Every available fact and metric from inside out outside of media sources disproved that, but he wouldn’t let it go.
He said they would supplant U.S. media reporting with their own version of news through Twitter and Facebook channels.
It clearly won’t be long before Trump’s government funds and opens its own government-run news agency, just like in Russia, China and North Korea, where the new leader will no longer be disappointed by civilian media hacks.
So, where exactly do we go from here?
Trump and his administration consistently and regularly told outright and provable lies all throughout the election process, often doubling down on those fabrications. And now, as officials, they’ve made it clear they will not only continue their misinformation and disinformation campaign, but they will fight against the media for dispelling the administration’s untruths.
You don’t have to be a Republican, a Democrat or someone who doesn’t even give a rat’s ass to see that this does not bode well for anyone. And rather than stepping in to set the new administration straight, much of the GOP leadership stands admiring, not admonishing.
So will this be the new reality for government reporting from the top down and sideways? Government officials everywhere say whatever they want, and if the press says something else, they’re just liars?
Do we just continue to throw tantrum after tantrum every time the Trump government pulls something like this? Do we all run headlines like this one from the New York Times, cuing our readers as to each and every government whopper? “Trump Falsely Hits Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift.”
Besides insisting that he had the biggest crowds ever for his inauguration, Trump also insisted that the media invented his disdain for U.S. intelligence officials, even though almost all of the reporting was based solely on Trump’s own tweets and public comments. The man doesn’t just plain out lie, his lies are crazy-ass stuff, because all you have to do is read his tweets or listen to him talk. This is like Donald In Wonderland kind of crap that makes the business of being accurate, fair and balanced akin to particle physics.
This is like trying to persuade not just a single delusional person that there, indeed, are not ants crawling all over them, but an entire ward full of crazy people all insisting on a revolving, bizarre delusion fueled by a tyrant’s ego. The man said that as he began to speak at his own inauguration, the rain stopped. It didn’t.
We can lament all this crazy all we want, but there has to be a plan get through the next 48 days, let alone the next 48 months.
At this point, it seems to me that we have no choice but to regularly tell readers in headlines and ledes that this government official or that one is falsely claiming this thing or that. It would be the height of journalistic irresponsibility and give way to a total lack of ethics to do anything less. The public must know that its government has no use for facts when they don’t serve its purpose.
The danger, here, is twofold: Being branded as pernicious liars, the government some day will be ignored when rightfully crying out about a wolf. Second, the public is dangerously misled by government propaganda campaigns. There’s really nothing we in the media can do other than what we’ve always done, and what we do best: keep on reporting as best we can and hope the public doesn’t tire from news about a government that sees a free press as an impediment to its agenda, whatever that may be.
Rather than fight back with the truth, we’ll simply report it. History has shown time and again, the truth does, eventually, win.
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