Wednesday, September 30, 2020

the last book I ever read (Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth by Brian Stelter, excerpt seven)

from Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth by Brian Stelter:

Day by day, tweet by tweet, the country came to grips with the fact that presidential statements—which used to really mean something—were now just the misinformed and misspelled rants of an elderly Fox fan. No one was going to turn off Trump’s TV set or stop him from tweeting. This realization sunk in for me on February 17, the first time he lobbed an “enemy of the people” grenade at the media. Up until that point I thought that Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus, old Washington pros, people I trusted to some degree, would intervene before things got that bad. I was wrong. Spicer and Priebus knew that the Stalinist “enemy” language was dangerous, but they didn’t stop it from happening. After leaving the White House, Priebus’s successor, John Kelly, said, “the media, in my view, and I feel very strongly about this, is not the enemy of the people. We need a free media.” Yes—but he should have said that while working for Trump. Kelly also commented, in his post-West Wing life, that “you have to be careful about what you are watching and reading, because the media has taken sides. So if you only watch Fox News, because it’s reinforcing what you believe, you are not an informed citizen.” Another veiled critique of the president—but past the point when it mattered.

I asked people like Hope Hicks why aides didn’t step in when the president used morally reprehensible rhetoric to disaparage the free press. The answer basically boiled down to: “He’s the president.”

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