Last week hundreds of newspapers, including this one, wrote editorials pushing back against President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on the media.
The central argument is that Trump’s brazen attack on the free press is an attack on our democracy.
The question is why is he engaging in such dangerous and undemocratic rhetoric by calling the media “fake news” and an “enemy of the people”?
Could it be that the president is so thin-skinned that he is unable to withstand any criticism without lashing out at the media? Or is he an authoritarian who does not respect the role of a free press?
Based on the president’s conduct, the answer appears to be both, but there appears to be another reason — to distort the truth and confuse the public about what is true and untrue, especially when it comes to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts.
On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani made an extraordinary statement when he said “Truth isn’t truth.”
While the comment is shocking, it follows a disturbing pattern of Trump spokespeople attempting to distort the facts. Remember that earlier in his administration Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway introduced the phrase “alternative facts.”
Expect more of this kind of rhetoric as special counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate the president’s associates.
On Tuesday, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating bank, tax and campaign finance laws. On the same day, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on tax and bank fraud charges.
In a statement, Giuliani said: “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”
This is not true. Cohen’s guilty plea to violating federal campaign finance laws implicates Trump.
The president can no longer argue that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt.”
As of today, 33 people have faced criminal charges that stem from the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In the coming days, as the Mueller investigation targets more Trump associates, the president should be expected to launch more attacks on the media and those he perceives to be disloyal to him. It means we are getting close to the truth.