Friday, January 27, 2017

Stephen Bannon's Real Enemy: The Media

Stephen Bannon's explosion in this NYT interview is worth noting.  He tells us that the media is the real enemy, that the media is the opposition party, that the media should, and I quote:

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s chief White House strategist, laced into the American press during an interview on Wednesday evening, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by an election outcome few anticipated, and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration.
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call.
“I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

Emphasis is mine.

In this he of course agrees with Trump whose rally speeches repeated the words "crooked" and "corrupt" when he spoke about the American media.  Indeed, repetition of that kind is very effective, and Trump is nothing but a carnival barker, so he knows what works.

Add to this the way Trump has begun a war against the intelligence community.

Now, neither the media nor the spooks are necessary the defenders of truth, apple pie and the American Way (whatever that might mean).  But consider the alternative:

If we don't get our facts from the media and the intelligence agencies, who is going to tell us what to believe?  What other possible sources even exist?

The answer, of course, is our Dear Leader.  If he tells us that up is down we must believe him.  

And that is the slippery slope towards a dictatorship.

So what are we to think when we read that the Rasputin behind Trump's throne hates the media and is proud of the lies the president's press secretary, Sean Spicer uttered?

Well, we could multi-task.  We could notice that Bannon is speaking to the rabid base of Trump supporters, who already only believe in alternative facts.  Then we could notice that there's something more wrong with this man than just his sexism and racism:  He is unable to control himself, just as Trump is unable to let any slight go unanswered.

Then we could muse about the importance of free press in democracies, and how the attempts to smear all the myriad newspapers and media sites as equally horrible will affect the functioning of democracy in the United States.  And we could shed a tear for the democracy that was, however halting it may have been in the last few decades.

We could even ridicule Bannon's way of gaining influence and friends.  Yelling at people!  Calling them the enemy!  Calling the media the opposition party!  Imagining how red his face was, imagining how his eyes bulged out.

And finally, we could see what Theodore Roosevelt had to say about all this, almost a century ago:

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

― Theodore Roosevelt