One of the most terrifying prospects of Donald Trump’s presidency has been his contempt for journalists – visible on the campaign trail as he railed against CNN and NBC, and openly admitted he trashed stories he didn’t like as “fake news.” When he became president, he threatened to open up libel laws – making it easier to sue journalists and harder for them to protect their sources. Attacks on the free press are the hallmark of nearly every authoritarian leader – a way to erase the unflattering truth that stands between them and absolute power.
Much of Trump’s sentiments towards the media are echoed by his right-wing base of followers, who seek out Fox News as the only source of truth – a network that was once Trump’s only source of comfort, since he could reliably watch and see himself portrayed in the best possible light. Now, even Fox News is getting to be less safe – as contributors like Shepard Smith and legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano have grown increasingly critical of him.
We’re at an increasingly critical point in his illegitimate presidency, as we learn more about the nature of his border concentration camps by the day, and new details emerge in the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein. In Sunday night’s tirade amidst the bad news, Trump lashed out first at The New York Times for exaggerating the nature of the border facilities, and then tore into his favorite network, simply because they quoted the same New York Times article he didn’t like.
Trump angrily berated the network in his usual fashion, accusing it of secretly being run by Democrats – which is just a little absurd when Democratic presidential candidates are refusing to appear on Fox. If that wasn’t laughable enough, he tweeted: “@FoxNews is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there!” One could argue that the network owes much of its recent success to President Obama, who the hosts railed against with clockwork regularity. If anything, Fox News has been struggling under the Trump administration, with ads being pulled from Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
Donald Trump will probably have a handful of pundits on Fox continue to prop him up, but the truth is getting harder to spin – and it’s now clear they can provoke his wrath without even trying. The one thing we do know for sure – it’s getting much harder to shield Donald Trump from reality.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making