With CNN Reporter Attack Video, Trump apes Seedy Dictators

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump has taken another big step toward becoming an African dictator.

On Sunday he tweeted a video someone made for him that was posted at a white supremacist site at Reddit.com. It showed him attacking a CNN reporter, WWF style, and wrestling him to the ground. When a snarky insecure white kid posts something like that on Reddit, it is supposed to be a joke (though let’s face it, the whole thing is sad however you look at it). But when the most powerful man in the world does it, it has to be read as a threat.

Real presidents attack real journalists more often than one might hope.

But usually it is dictators who style themselves presidents who engage in this kind of fascist behavior.

Faure Gnassingbé is the President of the West African nation of Togo. He is also the son of the former president of Togo, who died in in 2005 (since that year, Gnassingbé has been president.)

Here is a press release from Togo in 2006 just a year after Gnassingbé came to power:

“The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the attack on Yves Kpeto, a journalist for private radio station Nana Fm, who was beaten by brothers of the President of the Republic of Togo on accusations he had criticized their father, the previous president.

On Sunday November 5 at around 7 p.m., two brothers of President Faure Gnassingbé, who are also sons of the late President Gnassingbé Eyadema, attacked Kpeto at a party in the Agoényivé district of Lomé. They accused Kpeto and his colleagues of constant criticism of their father and biased coverage of events after his death.

Of course, Faure Gnassingbé would have had nothing to do with ordering Yves Kpeto beaten up.

Yves Kpeto

I see some indications on the Web that Kpeto may now be an expatriate in Ireland.

His crime? To have written critically about the father of Faure Gnassingbé

Then there was that time in March 2016 when Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was giving a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in the United States and some Turkish journalists tried to cover it, and he had his security men beat them up. This scene was repeated, mainly with regard to protesters, again this spring.

Wochit: “Chaos Emerges Outside of President Erdogan’s Speech in Washington”

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq invited freelance British reporter Farzad Bazoft to Iraq several times during the 1980s. Saddam liked Bazoft, who was of Iranian origin, because he opposed the Khomeini revolution. Bazoft typically filed for the Manchester Guardian newspaper, though he wasn’t an employee. On a fall 1989 invited trip, Bazoft unwisely investigated an explosion at a munitions plant (possibly a chem production site) while in country. Saddam Hussein had him arrested and beaten up, and possibly drugged. He was sentenced him to death, and then hanged in spring of 1990.

Farzad Bazoft, d. 1990

Bazoft’s crime? To look into a news story that the president did not want investigated.

You will say that Trump’s tweeted video didn’t show him killing anyone, just beating someone up. But you see, that is how it begins.

14 Responses

  1. In Germany the government has passed a law forcing all internet search engines to take down what they call “fake news” Presumably this affair of Trump’s video would qualify as fake news? I can’t imagine how loud the screams and howls of censorship from the white house would be if they took down his video. Over here in the UK there are plans for forcing Google and others to take down “fake news”. However, as yet fake news hasn’t actually be defined. I wonder would the stuff CNN puts out qualify as fake news? They have after all, just sacked three of their staff for just this offence, as well as being caught on camera actually saying they put out all the Russia gate stuff for ratings.

    • You misrepresent the German law that has been passed. It simply gives teeth to hate laws that have always been enforced in RL. I.e. what needs to be taken down is blatant racist and anti-semitic disinformation. Germany is especially sensitive to Holocaust denial.

      A video like this, while in bad taste, is still obviously satirical in nature, and covered by the freedom of art article in the German constitution, which also explicitly protects freedom of religion and academic research.

      It also protects free speech, but in the immediately following article specifies that is to be regulated and limited by common law to, for instance, protect youth as well as personal dignity.

      There is no free speech absolutism in the German constitution. On the other hand an academic like Juan enjoys full constitutional protection to publish contentious research on the Holocaust as long as his work lived up to academic rigor.

  2. Trump’s policies and actions strongly suggests he thinks he is all powerful and a dictator. Not a leader of a democracy. This presidency has gone to his head, which is not surprising considering he is narcissistic, and unfortunately the beauty pageant organizer, and reality show host, still craves the attention and focus on himself, and doing his best for the nation has he promised is only secondary, if at all.
    Trump is not making America great again, Trump’s presidency is all about Trump (and his many businesses).

  3. When it comes to free speech – and other things – D. Trump may qualify as a brutal satirist disguised as a clown, as a caricature. Trump satirizes the elected officials, just about all of them who, rightly so, are scare to death to discuss certain subjects, while they look and act as if they are free.
    We seem to be blind to the facts: Trump is the messenger, the message is us. We are living a farce to be epitomized tomorrow when the Declaration of Independence is read in public.

  4. Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert was unperturbed by the video portraying Trump’s physical attack on a person representing CNN: ‘No one would perceive that as a threat.’

    Would Bossert have been as untroubled if the victim in the video had been depicted wearing the uniform of a soldier or a policeman?

    • Or one of Tom’s kids.

      Apparently, Mr. Bossert is unaware of those so-easily-manipulated Trump minions constantly being cued by Alex Jones, Drudge, NewsMax and FAUXNews?

      The Trump CNN takedown metaphor is simply a CUE for minions to act.

  5. Trumps wrestling CNN video is to be expected as a PR gimmick to be used by a ratings whore tv reality show host.

  6. Trump is scarcely ‘the most powerful man in the world’. That would require him able to accomplish more than anyone else, he is too constrained for the accolade. Being the most powerful man in the world requires acquiescence from others. Earlier post WW II presidents may have possessed the appearance. Now, however, Trump attempts to bestride the international scene with nothing but his military arsenal, his petrodollar, and a basket of sanctions. Meanwhile Xi Jinping is calling in on Putin on his way to the G20, their third get together this year. Ostensibly this is to complete a massive trade deal, but you can bet the bottom dollar US activity in the South China sea and the THAAD installations in South Korea will the main topics. Wilbur Ross Trump’s commerce secretary was recently delivering a speech by video to several hundred guests of the German Economic Council. Contributions were limited to 10 minutes but he rabbited on making preposterous demands until at 20 minutes the moderator simply cut the video link. Could that happen to someone holding a key position in the cabinet of the most powerful man on earth?

    • Well, that’s fine for you, but I have to live in a state full of armed, delusional Trump supporters. Like the plantation owners of the past who could send such thugs to eliminate dissidents without any formal governmental authority, he sure looks like the most powerful man in the world to me.

  7. There are simply no longer any excuses to be made for Donald J. Trump and HIS MINIONS!

    They have now become a GRAVE PHYSICAL THREAT to the normal citizens of our country.

    And this is how it begins.

  8. The Goldwater rule is no longer applicable. Years of public exposure are worth more than any office examination or testing. The specific diagnosis is no longer relevant. This pitiful being is so very clearly unfit for public office.

  9. “apes seedy dictators”, in my opinion he is a seedy dictator, he is just working on getting the control he wants and needs for he and Bannon to establish the new reich.

    We have only to look at what Hitler did to the Germany media prior to WW II or Egypt, Turkey, China, etc.

    When you look at how fast Syria became a war torn country and in ruins you shake your head and wonder how did it all happen so fast. Well it will happen just as fast in the U.S.A.

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