The media fumbled the ball when none of them quizzed the brand new White House communications director by asking, “What’s your take on President Trump time and again accusing the mainstream media of being ‘the enemy of the American people?’”
Photogenic, smooth-talking Anthony Scaramucci would have been tongue-tied in his debut performance on national television as the new chief of spin.
Regardless, Trump continues to rule like an omnipotent autocrat, taking potshots as if high on drugs while raging against his foes, especially the mainstream media.
Take heed, for this is a president addicted to adulation of himself, although ignorant of the barriers to his grasp.
If it were not for the media we would never know what is going on behind the White House walls and in secretive huddles beyond.
It has been the gutsy duty of the media in a democracy to report the news without threats or violence from any government official.
But that convention now lies in ruins. From atop our government, the president continues to intimidate, denounce, and penalize the mainstream media in an ongoing crusade to demonize all but one fawning cable news network. Reporters must now cope with Trump’s open enmity. Journalism is still an honorable calling, but insistent digging must now be reinforced with personal courage.
Trump has become inciter-in-chief, goading and rousing his followers to look upon mainstream journalists as prey when he tags them as “scum” and “horrible people.” It takes just a single individual to follow-up, with lethal consequences for a scribe armed only with a notebook and pencil.
That is the alarming state of affairs into which this unruly president has brought the nation since becoming head honcho.
Now is the time to recall the rise of fascism in pre-war Germany. At first they were ridiculed as incompetents, unable even to pull off a beer-hall putsch. But slowly and inexorably, the contempt for niceties caught the eyes and ears of the disaffected, and the ranks began to swell. Harsh rhetoric against opponents appealed to the lonely, the aimless, the unemployed, idle drifters, and above all the powerless holding grudges against others better off.
The party netted hordes, mesmerized by outspoken leadership, simple goals, and guarantees of better times, all amplified by the leader’s strident voice. As the halls filled, the masses moved to stadiums and then to wider open spaces, where flags and torchlight parades stirred their thumping hearts.
At long last the angry dispossessed belonged to something bold and irresistible. Identical uniforms, armbands, and jackboots gave them license to scare and rough up innocents.
All the while the movement’s leader attacked from the gutter and promised the moon. He raged at perceived enemies, scowling and strutting, immune to the warnings of brave critics as he basked in the applause of multitudes.
Now in control of pliant followers, the madman felt free to take on frightened holdouts in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive. Arsonists immediately torched the legislative building, leaving it a charred, uninhabitable wreck. Judges who refused to obey the party found themselves out of jobs. Party hacks replaced career employees in the civil service. And only an obedient media survived to disseminate doctored news. The movement ruled supreme, having snuffed out all embers of opposition.
At that moment the man who had plotted his ascendency could have stood in the middle of Berlin’s main street and shot someone without losing any voters.
Anthony S. Pitch is a former journalist in America, England, Israel, and Africa, and author of non-fiction history books, with 17 appearances on national television