Donald Trump caused yet another stir last week when he stated that the media are “the enemy of the American People.” Many noted that Trump’s statement bore striking resemblances to statements of dictators and tyrants of historical infamy. The New York Times called Trump’s statement “a striking escalation” even for Trump, who “routinely castigates journalists.”
Trump’s attack on the press was so abhorrent that even Fox News personalities have protested. Said Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, “Look, we’re big boys. We criticize presidents. They want to criticize us back, that’s fine. But when he said that the fake news media is not my enemy, it’s the enemy of the American people, I believe that crosses an important line.” Trump’s own secretary of state, Jim Mattis, also felt compelled to go on the record to voice his disagreement over Trump’s outlandish pronouncements, as can be seen in an interview with CNN posted here.
Now, vice president Mike Pence is attempting to sanitize Trump’s remarks. At a press conference in Brussels, Pence stated that the White House supports a “free and independent press.” Incredibly, he tried to deflect blame for Trump’s statement on the press itself. As reported by Politico, Pence had this to say:“The truth is that we have in President Trump someone who has a unique ability to speak directly to the American people. And when the media gets it wrong, I promise you President Trump will take his case straight to the American people to set the record straight.”
Sorry, Mike, it doesn’t work that way. Trump made a statement attacking journalists and the core First Amendment principle of freedom of the press. His statement was not an expression of Trump’s “unique abilities”, but a revelation of his flaws and the significant danger he poses to traditional American values of transparency and accountability.