Donald Trump’s media mistake

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

For over 40 years, Donald Trump has been a media creature. He has successfully used the media, from his books to his TV and radio interviews to his reality TV shows to his tweets, to further his business and political interests. Trump’s love of the spotlight was well rewarded during the 2016 Republican primaries and general election with an astounding $2 billion or more of free media coverage. That’s why Trump’s rookie mistakes towards the media since stepping into the White House are so surprising.

In the Trump age, be your own news editor

Faux News, the original Fake News

Faux News, the original Fake News

In September 2015, we gave some recommendations on how to bypass the corporate mainstream media, which were doing an awful job reporting real news. We suggested that readers and viewers choose their own news sources, follow such sources on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and share important stories. This way, you can act as your own news editor and broadcaster. Given the mainstream media’s abysmal 2016 election coverage, and with Donald Trump now in the White House, these efforts are more important than ever.

Trump’s troubling ties to Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Several weeks ago, Donald Trump kicked off a constitutional crisis by firing the Acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates, after Yates opposed Trump’s Muslim Ban. Since then, after rulings by numerous federal courts, Yates’ view has been validated. Now it turns out that another correct decision by Yates, regarding Russia, was ignored by Trump and his White House staff, with dire consequences.

Republicans obsessed with fighting Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Like a dog with a bone, many Republicans just won’t let go of their battles over culture in America, from LGBT rights to guns to infusing government with their religion — often referred to by the phrase “God, Guns and Gays” — to the media we consume. Led by Donald Trump himself, these conservatives seem to be spending an awful lot of time fretting over Super Bowl commercials and other corporate policies. The results vary from ill-fated boycotts to a further tearing of the fabric of America.

Donald Trump’s Constitutional crisis

Richard Nixon leaving White House grounds by helicopter after resignation.

Richard Nixon leaving White House grounds by helicopter after resignation.

In October 1973, President Richard Nixon committed the “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he fired the Watergate Special Prosecutor who had been appointed at the behest of Congress, which caused the U.S. Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General to resign. Nixon also abolished the office of the special prosecutor. This Constitutional crisis, which occurred nearly five years into Nixon’s presidency, ultimately led to Nixon’s impeachment and his resignation.

Last night, after just 10 days in the White House, Donald Trump had a Saturday Night Massacre of his own. Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after Yates wrote a letter to top Justice Department lawyers, directing them not to defend Trump’s Muslim immigration ban in federal court. Trump also fired Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Daniel Ragsdale, for reasons thus far unspecified. Several days earlier, Trump fired top career officers in the State Department.

The best way to protest is to vote smart

Anti-Trump protest, January 2017

Anti-Trump protest, January 2017

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

–George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905

Massive protests are planned in Washington, D.C. and around the country against tomorrow’s inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Most of the people who will be protesting are on the political left. How many of these people voted against or publicly attacked Hillary Clinton when she was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee? How many of them didn’t vote at all? If they did those things, they helped elect Trump. Protesting now is certainly in the American tradition, but voting smarter in the first place would have greatly reduced the number of things against which to protest, or even eliminated the need to protest at all.

President Obama’s high-water mark

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Obama at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Barack Obama is leaving office on a high note. Many people might not remember what it was like when Obama took office in January 2009. The Bush Recession was underway, and America was losing 779,000 jobs per month. Stores were closing. Restaurants were empty. And our treasury was also empty (in fact, trillions in debt) from Bush’s disastrous Iraq War. Obama, with no help from the Republicans, turned things around to the point where he will be turning over a country that, by most objective measures, is doing very well. Let’s take a look at some of those numbers, so that we will have a comparison for the future:

John Glenn, Good Government hero

NASA astronauts John Glenn (C), Alan Shepard (R) and Gus Grissom (L)

NASA astronauts John Glenn (C), Alan Shepard (R) and Gus Grissom (L)

John Glenn, one of America’s heroes of the 20th Century, died last Thursday at age 95. Glenn was a highly decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War, rising to the level of Colonel. Then, as immortalized in the book and movie “The Right Stuff,” Glenn was chosen as one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts, where he became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Glenn went on to serve four terms as a U.S. Senator from Ohio, and he even returned to space at age 77, the oldest person ever to do so. In between, Glenn ran for president in the 1984 Democratic Party primaries.

What do all of John Glenn’s heroic accomplishments have in common? They were all done as part of the U.S. Government.

The Breitbarting of America

Trump/Breitbart propagandist Stephen Bannon

Trump/Breitbart propagandist Stephen Bannon

Donald Trump‘s unofficial electoral win, as well as the elevation of Stephen Bannon to Trump campaign CEO and then future White House counsel, demonstrates how Andrew Breitbart‘s style of propaganda and fake news has triumphed. The mainstream media helped the Breitbart model win, cheering every step of the way. All of this is dangerous for the country.

Before his death in 2012 from a heart attack at age 43, Andrew Breitbart launched Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv and other related sites, which furthered right wing narratives such as “Scary Brown People” and “Corporations Good, Government Bad.” During President Barack Obama‘s administration, Breitbart helped to push anti-Obama and anti-Democratic Party stories, many of which were at least partially fake or based on doctored videos (i.e., propaganda), but which got picked up by the major news media and became the news, with marvelous results for the GOP. Among the best-known stories flogged by Breitbart were:

Donald Trump’s shaky start

Anti-Trump protest in New York City, Nov. 12, 2016

Anti-Trump protest in New York City, Nov. 12, 2016

Donald Trump was able to get away with pretty much anything while campaigning for president, from admissions of sexually predatory behavior to numerous false statements. Now that he’s the president-elect, however, Trump is discovering that preparing to govern is something very different from campaigning. Trump has already gotten into a bunch of sticky or questionable situations just days after the election: