An “Enemy of the American People”

A few days ago, The Boston Globe proposed that, on August 16th, newspaper opinion writers write about Donald Trump’s “Enemy of the American People” description of the media. As I write this column, 200 other papers have decided to join the Globe.

If Trump walked up to a guy in a bar (assuming no Secret Service to protect him) and started calling him an “Enemy of the People”, “dangerous and sick”, a “stain on America”, “fake news”,  “very dishonest” – which he’s called the media – he’d very soon be looking at the world through his belly button. But because he’s the President and he’s insulting reporters, those same reporters take the insults and don’t react. Why? Because it’s their job to report the news, not be part of it. So, except in rare instances, they don’t respond to their President, a man whose priorities are a constant tan, fake hair, junk food, and a nearly constant stream of lies, especially about reporters.

How long would you take that kind of treatment if you were a reporter? Small wonder they keep a running tally of his lies.

The biggest lie, of course, is the one about the media being the “Enemy of the American People”. Unfortunately, it is a lie so “colossal”few would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truthso infamously”. (The quotes are from Hitler’s 1925 book Mein Kampf, in which he outlined his strategy of using The Big Lie against Jews).

Let’s examine Trump’s “Enemy of the American People” claim, just for a bit. That would include Walter Cronkite, who first brought the America people the truth about Viet Nam. That would include the New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers and exposed the lies the American government told its citizens about Viet Nam. That would include Woodward and Bernstein, who exposed Nixon’s crookedness. That would include the exposure of Wells Fargo for stealing from its customers. That would include reporting on the thousands of children abused by priests of the Catholic Church for decades, including this week’s stories about 70 years of priests hurting kids in Pennsylvania.

Anyone can post “fake news” on the web, as Trump does. Not so real reporters. Real reporters, working for real newspapers, have real rules: facts have to be verified, usually twice; stories are screened by real, professional editors. Newspapers do this so readers can rely on them for the truth. Do they always get it right? No. But unlike Trump and other purveyors of really fake news, newspapers correct even minor misspellings, immediately. Check any major paper and you’ll see notes to that effect at the bottom of articles.

Which is why the media are not Enemies of the American People; they are Allies of the American People.

Hey, Mr. President, want to see some real “Enemies of the American People”?

How about the opiod Crisis? How about our crumbling infrastructure? How about Russia, climate change, economic inequality and the shrinking middle class? How the World Healthcare ranking of American healthcare as 37th in the world and the US Educational System ranking of 24th or below, worldwide? How about local gerrymandering and a federal government that tears children from their parents? How about banks that steal from customers, a health system that ignores 27 million Americans, etc…?

How about attacking those – real – Enemies of the American People, Mr. President? How about doing something to actually help the country instead of lashing out like an angry 12 year old?

I’m not talking about policy here, by the way. Debate over policy is healthy, as American as the flag. Debate over policy is the friend of the American People, not the enemy. That’s how we choose our leaders, and how, when, why and where they should take this country.

Nope, I’m talking about personality, not policy. I’m talking about one personality who uses lies against truth, who deliberately turns Americans against each other and against a world we once led and helped make safe, who is damaging the very soul of this country.

I’m talking about President Donald Trump.

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