Trump has press führer waiting in the wings
Steve Bannon. | AP

The Trump administration is not just trying to muzzle most news media outlets. It’s trying to limit and control what the American people see and hear.

By successfully doing this in Germany, Hitler was able to establish a totalitarian society with himself as an unchallenged dictator.

That’s why more than ever America needs news outlets that will dig into the facts and that are not afraid to speak truth to power.

Trump has a fuehrer of the press waiting in the wings to take charge of handing the American people what Trump feels they need to know. He’s Stephen K. Bannon, one of the president’s top advisors and former head of the Breitbart News network, notorious for disseminating fake news and far-right conspiracy theories as fact.

Donald Trump says he’s at war with the press. White House Spokesperson Sean Spicer calls the press “shameful and wrong.”

But Trump and Spicer are not referring to all of the press. Their attacks are limited to just most of the media. They’re saying that explicitly conservative media outlets like Fox News and far right outfits such as the Breitbart News network are just fine and dandy.

In fact, Trump is threatening to lock out every news outlet except those who have a history of kissing up to him.

He’s even gone so far as to trying to bend reality his way and then blasting all media that do not relate his “alt-facts” as gospel.

For example, after the Washington Post published an aerial photo showing the number of people attending Trump’s inaugural was much smaller than the number who attended President Obama’s swearing in, Trump himself called the U.S. Park Service and demanded that they somehow produce “evidence” that Trump’s ceremony was bigger than Obama’s.

It couldn’t be done, so Trump sent Spicer out to try to discredit the press to the American people. In a nationally televised press conference, Spicer called the press “dishonest,” and accused it of purposefully trying to undermine Trump’s commitment to unifying the country.”

Never mind that just about everything Spicer said about Trump’s inaugural was inaccurate. The American people heard only his statements. He refused to take questions from the press.

And when Bannon told the New York Times  “The media should … keep its mouth shut because “they don’t understand this country,” the American people heard nothing to the contrary.

Bannon also said that the media, not the Democrats, are the “opposition” party.

In Germany, Hitler one by one falsely discredited newspapers and radio stations, until all that was left was the Nazi Party paper.

If Trump stays on the path he’s following, the main news outlet in the U.S. may very well become Breitbart News, which – aside from publishing flat out lies – is well known for its anti-Semitic and racist views.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler bragged about his “big lie” approach. If you tell a big enough falsehood over and over again, he said, people will accept it as truth.

Here, the Trump crowd disseminates what it calls “alt facts.”

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd pressed Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about why the White House had ordered Spicer to lie to the press by saying the crowd that gathered for Trump’s swearing-in “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

A man holds a sign for Steve Bannon in a women's march during the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency in San Francisco, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. | Jeff Chiu/AP
A man holds a sign for Steve Bannon in a women’s march during the first full day of Donald Trump’s presidency in San Francisco, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. | Jeff Chiu/AP

Conway replied, “You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts.

The next day, sales of George Orwell’s book 1984 rose to record highs evidently because people wanted to be reminded of the nature of “newspeak.” The novel portrays a society in which words mean only what the dictators say they mean.

Trump is not only intent on feeding the public only facts that he likes, he is also bent on limiting the news the American people absorb.

So far, he has been inordinately successful in doing this.

For example, this past week Trump succeeded in getting the media to focus on an issue that seems petty to all but Trump himself: how many people attended his inaugural.

Meanwhile, he finished appointing a cabinet that is overwhelmingly composed of white billionaires; placing a gag rule on employees of the Environmental Protection Agency; burdening low income homeowners with a rise in the cost of homeowners insurance and taking the first steps to kill ObamaCare and revive two pipeline projects.

Dana Milbank, a columnist for the Washington Post, calls this a “dead cat tactic.” No matter what people are talking about, Milbank explains, if you throw a dead cat on the table people will gape at that.

We can expect more diversions from Trump, more fake facts and more attempts at controlling what news the American people get.

There are signs that the American press is standing up and refusing to be silenced.

We hope this trend continues and expands.


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.