Tomorrow, they will say, “Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

So Trump did rant and rave at the press on Thursday. But not at all the press. He has never attacked Breitbart, the vehicle for white supremacist falsehoods piloted by his Rasputin, Neofascist Steve Bannon (White House chief of strategy and National Security Council eminence grise).

And that is the real significance of his accusation that the major corporate media outlets are “fake news.” What he means by that is their refusal to adopt a white supremacist editorial line.

He doesn’t actually mind fake news, or he would fire Bannon and dissociate himself from Breitbart, which is mostly filled with far-right racist falsehoods. There was, for instance, the fake news about the alleged Muslim immigrant mass rapes in Cologne a little over a year ago. Breitbart beat the drums for it, but the the story was not true. Or then there was the phony story about Muslims burning a church in Germany, also played up by Breitbart and also not true. Trump is deeply influenced by Bannon’s insane conspiracy theories; if you want to know why he keeps saying false and/or unbalanced things, consider that he gets his news from alt-Neonazi toilet paper like Breitbart.

He is attacking mainstream media for not following the Breitbart lead, and for disrupting the narrative that he and Bannon are trying to spread, of persecuted white people suffering at the hands of invading Mexicans, Chinese and Arabs.

He minds the mainstream media giving over their airwaves to critics of his Muslim ban (not everyone has; Rupert Murdoch’s Faux News has been a cheerleader for it and even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has insisted that Judge James Robart and the panel at the 9th Circuit were out of line in challenging it).

He minds the mainstream media reporting on the spike in threats to synagogues since he was inaugurated, and on his White House refusal to mention Jews in his Holocaust message (“other people suffered”). That is why he was so rude to Jake Turx of Ami magazine. Bannon and Trump think the liberal Jewish elite are behind Fed monetary policy and pro-immigration policy (i.e. the Jews are to blame for the Muslims).

He minds negative coverage of his policies toward Mexico, including his smearing of Mexican-Americans as rapists and drug dealers and threat to send down US security forces to take care of their ‘bad hombres.’ He has no Latino cabinet members. He clearly does not like Latinos or think they belong in the US (even though old Castilian Californio families have been here since 1769, rather before the petty grifter Frederick Trumpf began his seedy activities in 1885 in Queens).

What Trump is trying to do by vilifying the corporate media is to bring them to heel and to put pressure on them to bring more Breitbart and Stormfront commentators on air to spew Trumpist talking points.

Ironically, Jared Kushner is also playing a role in trying to bring e.g. CNN to heel. He’ll be sorry.

This is not cute, folks, and for all the giggles it produces on the late night opening monologues, it is extremely sinister.

When someone like Trump moves the signposts on allowable public discourse, things can get ugly fast. You start having panels on cable news at 2 pm debating about whether African-Americans have only themselves to blame because of their laziness and violence. (You can tell this is propaganda because self-contradictory; lazy people wouldn’t have the vim for violence). You start having anchors who think that Islam is an intrinsically violent or anti-democratic religion (this has already happened on HBO via phony liberal and stealth supremacist Bill Maher). You start having commentators opining on the dangers of undocumented immigrants voting in New Hampshire.

Trump hopes to keep the pressure on, by portraying independent news and commentary as inherently false and unfair, and to use his shock troops to intimidate the media into taking his line, which is to say, the Neofascist line.

Trump went on to boast about his New Improved Mussolini foreign policy:

I have directed our defense community headed by our great general, now Secretary [James] Mattis. He’s over there now working very hard to submit a plan for the defeat of ISIS, a group that celebrates the murder and torture of innocent people in large sections of the world. It used to be a small group, now it’s in large sections of the world.They’ve spread like cancer. ISIS has spread like cancer — another mess I inherited.

ISIL does not actually murder people in large sections of the world. Obama rolled it back into being a relatively small terrorist group. All it has left in Iraq is part of the city of Mosul; it has half of dusty, remote Raqqa province in Syria. It has been kicked out of Sirte in Libya, in part by Obama’s AFricom strategy. While small terrorist cells can hit anywhere at any time, portraying ISIL as actively committing massive violence in large sections of the world is just vast exaggeration and fear-mongering.

Then he said:

“And we have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran, who has totally taken advantage of our previous administration, and they’re the world’s top sponsor of terrorism, and we’re not going to stop until that problem is properly solved. And it’s not properly solved now, it’s one of the worst agreements I’ve ever seen drawn by anybody.”

In fact, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has made it clear that he is not tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement, so Trump may as well stop complaining about that deal. Trump doesn’t seem to realize that his own policy is to support Russia in Syria, and Russia is allied with Iran in Syria. Moreover, ISIL was only rolled up in Iraq with Iranian help.

Iran is not the world’s primary backer of terrorism, despite what Washington pols keep saying. They considered Hizbullah’s struggle to liberate illegally occupied south Lebanon from Israeli occupation to be ‘terrorism,’ and minded that Iran backed Hizbullah. A country like the US, which waged a war of aggression on Iraq, set in train the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, bombed urban residential districts, made four million Iraqis homeless, and left behind a country of orphans and widows, really doesn’t have room to criticize Iran, which has not launched a war of aggression on a neighbor in modern history.

Then Trump boasted about plans to vastly expand the Pentagon budget. The US has less than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan and half that in Iraq. Aside from those two situations, America is not at war. Yet is has a military budget that roughly 40 percent of world military spending! The US is 5 percent of the world population. With the exception of some police actions we aren’t at war. We don’t need all that military spending.

Actually, if Trump worked to make Central America more prosperous, that would be a much better use of several hundred billion dollars going to the Pentagon. And that step, not building a wall, is what would reduce immigration to the US across its southern border (though note that already, more Mexicans leave annually than come in, because of the good Mexican economy).

None of this is funny. Bad.

Juan Cole


Related video:

Press, fake news, leaks and Russia: Highlights from Trump presser – BBC Newsnight

18 Responses

  1. Sure Trump lies with impunity and Breitbart et alia are fraudsters. But the reason i think some people give trump a pass for his real news parody act is that they are sick of being lied to by the “serious” media. The serious media have lied us into serial wars, from Iraq to Libya etc.
    As to the hagiography of Obama: didn’t he rearm Israel when they were massacring the children Gaza? Didn’t he drop over 26000 bombs on 7 poor defenseless Muslim countries last year? Didn’t he unleash a drone assassination program across the Mideast? And what about the policy of letting Isis have at it in Syria and arming Al Quaeda?
    Yes Trump gang is terrible but so was the Obama gang. Corporate media and Obama have one advantage they are more presentable, they hide the ugly empire’s sins better.

    • So what the Obama gang did was so reprehensible that an actual war of threats and whipping up of redneck anger against our national media, or ordering the Council of Economic Advisors to assume a future 3 to 3.5% growth rate instead of 2% and then filling in all other economic numbers to match, or looking for a way to use 100,000 National Guardsmen to round up aliens, doesn’t strike you as crossing the line into an actual dictatorship?

      I mean, that’s like saying that the Vichy Republic was morally no worse than the imperialist 3rd Republic that preceded it, because hey, that handing over Jews to Hitler stuff is offset by Vichy surrendering its empire to a foreign conqueror. You refuse to imagine what crimes Trump will attempt next based on historical models so that you can keep him morally equivalent to Obama. And then Trump commits them – and you will be back here with new excuses.

  2. However much Trump and the Nazi try to discredit the media, it does not seem, fortunately, to be working. The media is getting bolder and Trump’s support shakier.

  3. Now I’m thoroughly confused, Bibi’s buddy is a Jew hater and the military budget is tied to an actual need?

  4. Objectivity is an abstract concept. Even if you experience an event you can only react to it from your personal perspective, through your own cultural, moral baggage, and that is exponentially so when it’s an event you did not encounter first hand. The very act of reporting involves a massive degree of selectivity simply to produce coherent communication and the process itself is distinguishable from ‘spin’ only in degree. Look at the coverage of Israeli activities in Palestine where some see lawless, brutal oppression while others see the work of deity. The 1815 battle of Waterloo is a renowned victory to the English whereas to the French it is a prime example of Prussian perfidy. The Hebrew Exodus is seen as a triumphant escape of a deity protected tribe or the enforced removal of a group of nomads whose monotheist enthusiasms sat uncomfortably in a polytheist nation governed by priests and ruled by a divine incarnation. All these have at their core a simple occurrence, just variously interpreted. The real difference now is that primary occurrences themselves are often invented and spun across the media; gossip once passed sotto voce from mouth to ear has now gone viral.

    There are arguably two ways to respond, one is to accept what you read or hear, particularly if it comforts your prejudices, the other is to investigate deeply and form a judgement of your own. The latter is relentlessly hard work, similar to the proper study of historical events, and I don’t mean the pernicious scissors and paste job soi-disant historians pursue where they start with a conclusion and then string a series selected bits to reach it, I mean active, dog at a bone, ratiocination, Murder in the Rue Morgue stuff, of events and their circumstances until they provide illumination of what happened, why and how. The shortcut to that of course is extensive attention to multiple conflicting media.

    • Now you’re broaching the metaphysics of reality. Per Rove, its dangerous to give credence to follow that road and not recognize what’s really so.

  5. Has anyone found the thousands of Arabs dancing in the streets? While gradually lifting the sanctions on Iran why does Trump always refer to this money we are allowing Iran to receive as the money being ‘our’ money, when technically this is Iran’s money?

    Although Trump over embellishes almost everything he says, is he not guilty of what almost everyone in the media is also guilty of….and that’s where the truth is stuffed down deep inside of an agenda?

    The New York Times will go to great lengths to hide any American involvement with Nazi inspired rioters in Ukraine. The Washington Post will literally create ‘fake news’ while they attempt to slander quality Internet news sites as their being untrustworthy, and of all things they are reporters of fake news. CNN might as well just put a CIA agent in the anchor seat for never reporting to how conveniently our American weapons where supplied to the Saudi’s always end up in short order being used by such groups as ISIS. MSNBC while in a continual search to blame the Wikileaks exposure of Hillary’s emails on the Russians never ever mention such notable players as Craig Murray, and especially they never bring up the strange murder of young Seth Rich communications director for the DNC campaign committee.

    It’s agendas people. Much like our politicians should wear NASCAR logo emblazed uniforms allowing us to clearly see who supports them, our news agencies should do the same.

    I don’t think we need another law to be ignored and only enforced when it suits someone’s agenda, but what we should do is refine our methods on how each of us as individuals comprehends the news we read and hear.

    I come here to hear the opinion of Professor Cole as he centers his thoughts around reported events. These events he speaks to I can evaluate in truth by my lining up his facts amongst other articles and reporting I also read. The good professors opinion may not always be the opinion of other news/opinion sites, but his facts will line up to the others who have based their writings on real facts. Even with that a reader of the news may have to take a giant leap to accept any news they read as fact, and that’s a fact…everything you hear no matter where you hear it comes down to your own brain taking on the responsibility to believe it.

    I can’t sit here and write a self help guide to how one should gather their news, but I can offer the advice to be careful to what you believe.

    Recently I have read some good things about what the Trump Adminstration is doing with China…but it’s not in the MSM news.

    Read this…

    link to

    If you read that, and if Meyssan is reporting the news honestly then why isn’t this kind of reporting being brought up in our American news outlets? Could it be Meyssan is off the reservation, and his reporting doesn’t fit the agenda.

    Trump is guilty of what his opponents are guilty of, and it’s not always simply a lie, as much as it’s always ‘the spin’. We are so screwed up that even though, and I don’t hate Bill O’Reilly, but he always starts out his program by saying, ‘and the spin stops here’ and then he goes on to spin for the next hour…really?

    If it’s true that the truth will set you free, then we might as well all be locked up….as the good Sgt. Friday always said, ‘just the facts sir, just the facts’.

    With all of that I didn’t even bring up ‘infotainment’ once.

  6. It was quite the spectacle. I watched from start to finish and found myself shaking my head in consternation, mumbling how this can’t really be happening. It was worse than Nixon’s meltdown when he said goodbye to his staff. The hacks in the rightwing media and the GOP political establishment are trying to paint this as an optimistic picture of a strong President asserting himself.

    It’s just the opposite. The man’s myriad insecurities are eating him alive.

  7. Trump’s press conference was the most incredible thing I have ever seen from a US president. I give you the words of John Dean who was asked to give his views of Trump vis a vis Watergate, etc. Dean has first hand knowledge of what an unstable and corrupt president looks like. A close paraphrase is that he said, “I went to my first presidential news conference in 1957. I have never seen such a classless president.” Trump is clearly the most dangerous man to ever occupy the White House and it amazes me that some still can’t see that and make false equivalencies.

  8. This is Trump’s latest tweet, approx 5PM EST, Friday, Feb. 17.

    I post this because it underlines what you’ve written, Juan.
    This is not funny anymore, not that it ever was.
    This man is mad.
    This is dangerous.
    What happens when a prominent media figure is assassinated?
    Or when a pipe bomb detonates at a MSM outlet, either print or TV (since radio is pretty much under fascist control)?

    None of his tweets – however insane they’ve been – have given me chills like this one has:

    Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 1h1 hour ago
    The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
    29,204 replies 14,303 retweets 42,046 likes


  9. We’re running up against the refusal of extremists in America to accept that the flouting of civilized standards of behavior may be instrumental to actual acts of evil – because they’ve already staked their self-worth on the certainty that civilized standards of behavior are evil. And I’m not just referring to the extreme Right.

    It takes a Hitler to show us what evil truly is, as opposed to ordinary bourgeois corruption and hypocrisy. And then our grandchildren forget.

  10. Basically, a hysterical, unqualified new President is verbally calling out and tweeting against opponents up front and behind the scenes studying the best way to call out the National Guard.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  11. The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

    What will tiny fingers do to protect us from the scourge of facts and reality.

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