Steve Bannon says President Trump will take the US back from a “corporatist, globalist media” that opposes his brand of economic nationalism. Trump is “maniacally focused” on fulfilling his campaign pledges, Bannon warned, predicting a daily fight against the media he has branded as the opposition party.
Bannon, whose confrontational, populist brand of Republican politics upends decades of conservative orthodoxy, describes his own West Wing office as the “war room”. He has also organized his right wing agenda into three “verticals”: national security and sovereignty; economic nationalism; and “deconstruction of the administrative state”.
Bannon is always present whenever cameras cover a Trump press conference or follow the President into the Oval Office. The ideas coming out of Donald Trump's mouth are Bannon's. Bannon determines what media Trump consumes and shapes his worldview. The information flow is going through Breitbart and Fox News rather than through the national security apparatus.
Donald Trump and his cohorts have instructed the American people on what to believe, whom to hate and how badly they can behave. And yet we continue to be surprised by each aggressive pronouncement or move.
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” Bannon said. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.”
History has shown us why totalitarian governments are such implacable enemies of the press, and why, on coming to power, their leaders have been so quick to impose strict censorship and criminalize dissent. Denying journalists from the Guardian, New York Times and other outlets access to a press briefing is an authoritarian move.
The President has declared war on the First Amendment. In so doing he has attacked a cornerstone of democratic self-governance.
On the same day that access was being denied to journalists at the White House, Trump was at CPAC continuing his ferocious attacks on the media: “I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news,” said Trump. “They have a professional obligation as members of the press to report honestly. But as you saw throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn’t tell the truth. They always bring up the First Amendment,” he said.
This must be seen for what it is: the strong-arm tactics of an authoritarian. It is, in fact, a signature of authoritarian rulers that they turn the opposition into the enemy. The opposition is to be engaged and persuaded; the enemy is to be isolated and crushed.
This cannot go unanswered. And the push back must come from all corners, in particular from congressional Republicans. The members of Congress swear to uphold the Constitution, and this oath of public service requires defending our democracy from this extraordinary threat. It's their move...
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