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Could Trump’s Disdain for the Press Lead to Russian-Like State-Controlled Media?

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Actual Press Coverage to Be Limited for a Trump Presidency?

Will Donald Trump’s unprecedented disdain for the mainstream media lead to various forms of state-controlled press, like Russian president Vladimir Putin has created?

Here was Trump at a rally, attacking the “dishonest” media, less than one week before the election. That attack included calling out by name Katy Tur of NBC News, who was in the press box:

The press and the American presidency traditionally have had a relationship that at times appears adversarial, while at other times is viewed as seemingly cozy and nearly conspiratorial in nature. While the American people have come to expect this state of affairs, the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States has drastically altered the very dynamics of that relationship. 

Media critics, watchdog groups, and Trump’s opponents have charged that the President-elect has manipulated, bullied, and cajoled American media into covering his campaign, and now presidential transition, without regard to his more egregious actions, statements, flip-flops, or outright misstatement of fact. His detractors claim that media outlets seem uninterested or unable to holding him accountable.    

One troubling factor is Trump’s ability and penchant for going around the mainstream media via social media to engage with the public directly. Veteran journalist and senior editor, Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post’s media columnist, noted this past week:

In many ways, Trump can bypass the traditional press — using YouTube or Twitter to take his message to the world without pesky journalistic fact-checking or filtering. 

He has masterfully manipulated the media for the past 18 months — bullying reporters, garnering billions in free publicity and portraying journalists as part of the corporate structure that must be brought down so that the people can triumph.

That’s a deeply misleading and dangerous picture. In fact, U.S. citizens need an independent press more than ever. 

Journalists, and their corporate bosses, shouldn’t allow themselves to be used as props in Trump’s never-ending theater.

Trump’s willingness to by-pass the media sets a dangerous precedent according to David Karpf, a political communications professor at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Speaking with CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) political journalist Matt Kwong Tuesday, Karp warned:

“If Trump effectively shuts down the White House press corps, and only provides interviews to some amalgamation of Breitbart.com and Fox News,” he says, “there’s a very real risk that within six months to a year we’re going to have something that looks like [state-controlled] Russia Today and [former Soviet newspaper] Pravda.” 

Is it possible that a marginalised press corps is a path to a “quasi-state-controlled apparatus” in the U.S.? Yes, according to a broadcast news executive for Comcast-Universal, the parent company of NBC News. Speaking with NCRM on the condition of anonymity, he said, “These are valid concerns raised by Professor Karpf.” 

The executive, knowledgeable about the meeting held at Trump’s transition headquarters this week in New York between various media representatives and the President-elect, indicated that Trump and his team’s disdain for the collective gathering was obvious: 

“He [Trump] was lecturing the media representatives present, complaining that their coverage was biased and unfair. At one point he became agitated over one media outlet’s use of photograph that he deemed made him less attractive with a double chin.”

There was nothing of policy import, no discussions of a post-election press conference, the type normally held by a president-elect within the first days of winning office and no concrete commitment by either Trump or his transition team regarding allowing for greater press access, daily briefings, or a pool to cover him.

Take, for example, the report published late Wednesday that finds President-elect Trump has had more contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin than any other world leader, and their aides have been communicating as well.

Then take the response of Jason Miller, the Trump transition team’s communications director’s response to reporters:

Lynn Walsh, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, an organisation whose stated mission is to promote and defend the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press as well as encourage high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism; echoing Professor Karpf’s concerns to CBC’s Kwong cautioned:

“All the information is coming through one filter. It’s Trump’s opinion, his angle, his team, without allowing anyone from the outside — whether a journalist or the public — to question it.”

Trump has used Twitter to defend himself against conflict of interest allegations over his continuing involvement in his global business empire, attempted to spin coverage of a $25 million settlement in the Trump University fraud cases, incited feuds with news outlets, most notably The New York Times. Then too, in an extraordinary never before seen display of anger by a president-elect, Trump lashed out at the cast of the popular Broadway musical “Hamilton” after they lectured Vice President-elect Mike Pence who was in the audience last week and also taking aim at NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ whose comedic parody of him he deemed ‘unfunny’ and said that the show needed to go away. 

Trump and his team limiting press access was defended by Fox News pundit Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel program Tuesday night. Hannity stated that Trump should reconsider granting traditional access to reporters until they and their media bosses admit to colluding with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Trump can do this and speak directly to you, the America people, without having his words twisted and taken out of context,” he said. 

Mike McCurry, former White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton was more blunt in his assessment. “He’s saying, ‘I’ve got some power that you barons in the mainstream media are losing,’ and that’s direct access to an audience through social media,” McCurry said. The bottom line as far as Trump is concerned?  McCurry opined that Trump’s overall sense of his relationship with the press seems to be one of: “I can make you pay a price if you’re not willing to work with me.”

Adding to media’s consternation, Trump and his team have been seemingly resistant to adopting the “protective pool,” a tradition that dates back decades, which allows a small group of reporters, representing the extended White House press corps and other media, access to the president-elect, keeping them near in the event of breaking news or national security.

Since his election Trump has ditched the press, first when he barred the pool from flying with him on his plane when he went to Washington to meet with President Obama, and afterwards simply returning to New York without alerting the press he had left D.C. Then a few days later after his spokesperson had called a “lid” to the reporters assigned to him, he and his family left for a dinner unannounced at Manhattan’s 21 Club. The “lid” should have signaled an end to the day’s activities for the president-elect. Although the press pool did travel to Florida with Trump for Thanksgiving, in move seen again as out of ordinary for a president-elect, they were flown on a separate plane. 

Communication and the free-flow of information from an incoming presidency is a must for a free and democratic society to be kept informed as to the actions of its leaders. In the case of the American presidency it probably more so critical given the nature of the office and a president’s impact on the global community at large. Trump’s seeming indifference and disregard for the previously established traditions and conventions sets a dangerous precedent.

 

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com 

Image: Screenshot via Bloomberg Politics/YouTube 

 

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‘I Will Find Out’: Jimmy Kimmel Questions Why Texas TV Station Cut Away From His Monologue on School Shooting

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A Dallas/Fort Worth television station cut away from Jimmy Kimmel’semotional monologue about the Robb Elementary school massacre that left 19 children and two adults dead.

ABC affiliate WFAA-TV interrupted the six-minute, comedy-free monologue with a string of commercials, starting with an in-house news spot, before airing the end of Kimmel’s opener, which he used for a three-minute ad for the gun violence prevention organization Everytown.org, reported the Star-Telegram.

“To my friends in Dallas who are asking: I do not know whether our @ABCNetwork affiliate @wfaa cut away from my monologue tonight intentionally or inadvertently but I will find out,” Kimmel tweeted. “In the meantime, here’s what you didn’t get to see.”

You can watch the clip below or at this link.

A source at the TV station said the commercials were aired and part of the monologue was cut because the 10 p.m. newscast ran long, and an interview with “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane was also chopped up into segments that aired between commercial breaks.

READ MORE: NYT’s Maggie Haberman reacts to ‘stunning’ testimony that Trump approved of ‘Hang Mike Pence’ chants

Kimmel called out elected officials, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX), and urged them to take action to prevent another mass shooting.

“Once again we grieve for the little boys and girls,” Kimmel said, fighting back tears. “Whose lives have been ended and whose families have been destroyed. While our leaders on the right, the Americans in Congress and at Fox News and these other outlets warn us not to politicize this. They immediately criticize our president for even speaking about doing something to stop it, because they don’t want to speak about it because they know what they’ve done and they know what they haven’t done, and they know it’s indefensible, so they’d rather sweep this under the rug.”

“The reason they call them common-sense gun laws is because that’s what they are,” he added. “Eighty-nine percent of Americans want background checks before a gun can be purchased, which is the very least we can do.”

 

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Watch: Texas Republican Opposes Any New Gun Legislation Because We’re Going to ‘Convict’ and ‘Punish’ the Shooters

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A Texas Republican state lawmaker said just one day after 19 elementary school students were shot and killed he opposes any new gun legislation for two reasons: the U.S. Constitution, and under existing laws prosecutors should just “convict” the shooters.

“What we want to know is what your solution is,” CNN host Alisyn Camerota told Rep. James White, who happens to be a former school teacher.

“We’ve all seen how quickly and creatively Texas—your local legislature—can act when it wants to, say, protect the unborn embryo,” Camerota added, referring to Texas’ vigilante abortion ban, as The Daily Beast reported. “Why not act with that alacrity to protect living, breathing 10-year-olds in this school behind me?”

“We have this thing called the Constitution,” White replied, even though the Texas abortion ban, under current law, violates at least the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and many other Republicans, and like the NRA, White then defended his desire to pass no legislation to help reduce gun violence by declaring the problem is actually one of mental health.

He said, “these young men, for some reason, they have some very disturbed emotional state.”

There is no evidence, according to Gov. Abbott, that this shooter had any documented mental health issues.

White then decided to propose utilizing existing law to reduce gun violence.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “we’re going to look at the people who do these acts, we’re going to convict them, and we’re going to punish them.”

Appearing flabbergasted, Camerota replied, “You can’t convict him, sir.”

“Sir you can’t convict him. He was killed. He was killed, along with 19 children in the school behind me.”

Watch:

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BREAKING NEWS

Duggar Gets 12 Years in Jail After Prosecutor Tells Judge He Has a ‘Violent Sexual Interest in Children’

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Josh Duggar, the former “19 Kids and Counting” reality TV star who was found guilty on horrific child pornography charges in December was sentenced by a federal judge Wednesday to serve 151 months – more than 12 years – in prison.

“Duggar has a deep-seated, pervasive, and violent sexual interest in children,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Roberts wrote in a sentencing memo, as Buzzfeed reported.

U.S. District Judge judge Timothy L. Brooks, appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama, called Duggar’s crimes “the sickest of the sick,” US magazine noted.

Editor’s note: Caution – graphic descriptions follow.

“Authorities described Duggar, 34, as a ‘very savvy computer user’ who tried to cover his tracks as he downloaded ‘sadistic and masochistic abuse’ material in 2019,” Buzzfeed adds.

Among the more than 600 images and videos that prosecutors said he downloaded was footage of prepubescent girls being raped, whipped, threatened with knives, and held naked in a dog cage.

Another video showed the rape and torture of a toddler — footage so terrible that a Homeland Security Investigations agent said it was among the most horrific things he had been forced to watch in his career.

The 34-year old Arkansas-born Duggar, who was forced to resign as executive director of FRC Action, the political activist arm of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council, spent nearly two years promoting his conservative and religious values as he was fawned over as a role model by the far-right, including FRC President Tony Perkins, and former Arkansas GOP governor Mike Huckabee.

“The former TLC personality has previously been involved in multiple scandals over the years,” US adds. “In May 2015, resurfaced court documents revealed that he molested five girls — four of which were related to him — between 2002 and 2003. He was 14 and 15 years old at the time. Sisters Jill Dillard (née Duggar) and Jessa Seewald (née Duggar)came forward one month later, revealing themselves to be two of their brother’s victims.”

Duggar has seven children with his wife Anna.

RELATED:

Josh Duggar Confessed to Molesting Multiple Minor Girls Close Family Friend Tells Jury Under Oath

Josh Duggar’s Attorneys Ask Court to Drop Child Porn Charges and Suppress Photos of His Hands Taken After Arrest

Federal Prosecutors: Josh Duggar Had Over 200 Obscene Images of Underaged Kids – Some of Children as Young as 5

 

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