The Ventriloquist’s Dummy

They follow him like sheep. Not a bleep. Blindly, they mouth the ventriloquist’s voice. What Trump says is gospel, especially to his minions in the White House.

The worst offender is his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. He only has to open his mouth with more crass comments than she parrots the inanities to a press corps constrained by the possibility of ejection.

If Trump defends himself by saying he was only joking, his press dummy faithfully repeats his line to journalists inured to the lies, dodges, and insults.

When have we ever heard the president of this shining United States fling devastatingly hurtful comments towards Gold Star families? First it was the Khan family, whose son lies buried in Arlington National Cemetery after being killed in action in the U.S. armed forces.

Most recently it was a grieving widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, killed in action in in the U.S. armed forces in Niger. Trump had the asinine reaction to Myeshia Johnson’s feelings when he disputed her recollection of the phone call by saying he had “one of the great memories of all time,” therefore she should back off her charge of his stinging comments.

This man is demonstrably unfit for the highest office. He is like a nascent Hitler, sternly rebuking all who do not follow his dictates in lockstep. Courageously, a senior Republican broke ranks to compare Trump’s White House to a day care center for adults. But the majority of Republicans in Congress shy away from criticizing the president, who acts like a pre-pubescent.

That is of no consequence to the ventriloquist’s dummy in the White House press briefing room. With her familiar disdain for a free press, Sanders tore into the scribes by lecturing them on the inappropriateness of questioning a four-star general who is Trump’s chief of staff. This, despite his directing false charges against a congresswoman who dared to back-up Sgt. Johnson’s sobbing widow.

No one, including the president himself, is immune from questioning in this democracy. A cowed and defanged press corps does exist – but only in totalitarian states like Russia, China, North Korea, and other dictatorships.

Press secretary Sanders echoes Trump’s drumbeat of revulsion against “fake news” of all but Fox News and other propaganda outlets. She rarely strays from her role of stern school-marm disciplining purveyors of “fake news.”

Since when did Trump or Sanders learn the basics of journalism? He constantly says real stories lie in uncovering “leakers” and unnamed sources rather than reporting on their revelations.

Someone should shout out fearlessly that were it not for whistle-blowers and anonymous sources speaking off the record to avoid retribution, our media would be gutless and cringing. Anyone who has reported from states without a free and independent press will conclude that Trump and the ventriloquist’s dummy are skirting dangerous territory.

First came the slanderous accusations of “fake news.” Then came the threat to withdraw licenses from critical media.

Such a swerve off course from constitutional protections, after only nine months in office, has many guessing at the eventual outcome.

It all sounds so familiar. Remember Germany in the 1930s? The similarities are striking, from a pied-piper despot to his chief propagandist, Dr. Joseph Goebbels.

Anthony S. Pitch is a former journalist in America, England, Israel, and Africa, and the author of non-fiction history books, with 17 appearances on national television

About the Author
Anthony S. Pitch is the author of Our Crime Was Being Jewish. He was Associated Press Broadcast Editor in Philadelphia and a journalist in England, Israel and Africa before becoming a senior writer in the books division of U.S. News & World Report in Washington, D.C
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