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Media Falls for "Gentler" Donald

The New York Daily News Condemns “Gentler” Donald’s Awful “Load of Clap”-- The Washington Post and New York Times Get Suckered “Bigly” February 4, 2018

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” According to the Washington Post, Demagogue Donald has made 2,140 false or misleading claims in his first year in office, or 5.9 misleading claims/lies per day (washingtonpost.com/news/fact-chec). Shame, shame, shame on the Washington Post, New York Times, and most other traditional reporting outlets for getting fooled again by “the Donald.” How? These “serious” papers took two out-of-context quotes in Donald’s 1/30/2018 State of the Union (SOTU) address, a speech otherwise larded with multiple lies and anti-immigrant racist demagoguery. These papers claimed these two quotes represented Trump’s new “gentler presidential/pivotal” tone. They summarized these statements and ran with them as their top headlines.

Trump Quote #1: “Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need deliver for the people.” Trump Quote#2: “This, in fact, is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living in the American dream (NY Times, Hirschfeld Davis & Shea, 1/30/18).” The NY Times’ headline summation of these statements read, “Trump Issues Appeal for Unity in First State of the Union (Hirschfeld Davis & Shear, 1/30/18).” The Washington Post’s first internet headline was worse. It blared, “A Call for bipartisan unity.” “Bipartisan unity?” How can the Washington Post buy into Trump’s talk of “bipartisan unity” without gagging? Trump, remember, just blew up a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigration deal and just about anything else both parties have tried to cobble together. When twitter users panned this headline by correctly calling Trump’s speech “highly partisan and even extremist,” the Wash. Post internet “makeover” was little better. Its next headline proclaimed, “A new American moment.” Ironically, this Post and this Trump line were first delivered by Hillary in 2010. Even worse, the Post’s sub-headline stated, “Trump adopts Gentler Approach (huffingtonpost, Mazza, 1/31/18).”

How fooled/suckered can you be? There is no “gentler” approach to trashing immigrants. “Gentler” State of the Union (SOTU) Trump spoke of “Americans as “dreamers too.” He is distorting the “Dreamer” term for his xenophobic “red meat” crowd. It’s “Us against Them”--Trump’s “real native Americans,” versus those “foreign” Dreamers. “Gentler” Trump stated he’s open to giving DACA recipients citizenship. This “citizenship,” however, will be held hostage to Trump’s getting the ridiculous wall on the Mexican border, being able to easily deport other undocumented immigrants, and being allowed to slash legal immigration. These conditions are absolute DACA deal breakers, rightly booed by the Democrats.

True, “Gentler” Trump didn’t call these immigrants people from “s’holes.” Hooray, Hooray! Instead, “Gentler” Trump used the same racist demagoguery he always has. He talked of how “gangs and drugs have poured into our most vulnerable communities, how these immigrants have taken away jobs and have caused the loss of many innocent lives.” “Gentler” State of the Union Trump pointed to guests of his, a family of two teen-aged girls who had been murdered, allegedly by the Salvadoran MS-13 gang. “Gentler”Trump, please note that research shows immigrants commit substantially fewer crimes than native-born Americans (pbs.org/news hour, Kristof @ NickKristof, 1/30/18). This Willie-Horton/“Guillermo Hortinez” use of the race/ethnic card by “Gentler Trump” was a tactic he previously employed to try to help GOP candidate Ed Gillespie win VA’s 11/2017 gubernatorial race. Fortunately, Trump and Gillespie failed “bigly.”

Sure, “Gentler” State of the Union Trump was not throwing paper towels to Hispanic members of Congress as he had done to hurricane-stricken Puerto Ricans. Instead, “Mr. Gentler” praised the U.S. response to hurricanes and promised he would “remember” the Puerto Ricans. Trump’s words mean nothing. At least 1/5 of Puerto Ricans, who are American citizens, still lack electricity, and power won’t be fully restored until 5/2018. On the very day of Donald’s SOTU speech, FEMA decided to halt new shipments of food and water to this island, still struggling four months after Hurricane Maria (CNN, Sanchez, Shah, & Santiago, 1/31/18, Kristof @ Nick Kristof, 1/30/18). Only a “y uu ge” outcry forced FEMA to reverse this action (See CNN, Santiago, 1/31/18).

When Trump spoke to a joint session of Congress last year, most of the traditional media gushed over the fact that he didn’t go off message and stuck to his teleprompter. Liberal commentator Van Jones called him “presidential.” Now, unlike the NY Times and Washington Post, Van Jones “got” it. He called “Gentler” Donald’s 1/30/2018 SOTU speech one where he (Trump) “was selling sweet-tasting candy with poison in it.” Van Jones went on to criticize Donald for implying that immigrant children are gang members and called that talk “completely unacceptable (Mazza, huffingtonpost.com, 1/31/118).” Spot on. Even though the NY Times news headlines about Trump were beyond awful, their two excellent editorial columnists, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof, rightly tore apart Trump’s SOTU address. Krugman called Trump’s use of racist anti-immigrant dog whistles even worse than when GOP presidential candidate H. W. Bush attacked black criminal Willie Horton. Horton, remember, had been furloughed in MA, ran away, and went on a crime spree. Krugman argued that even though using Willie Horton was a racist dog whistle, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, there was a crime wave. Now, when Donald attacks Latino immigrants with the Willie Horton/ “Guillermo Hortinez” racist dog whistle, there is no crime wave, especially in cities with a large foreign-born population (Krugman, NY Times, 1/31/18). Donald is, again, engaging in ugly racist lies to rile up the public. Kristof brutally fact-checked all of Donald’s economic, foreign policy, and racist/demagogic lies (Kristof, 1/30/2018). However, these two columnists write opinion pieces. More people notice the paper’s blaring front page headlines praising “Gentler Donald” and don’t read further. They get their first and last impressions from front- page headlines.

“Gentler Donald” also called in his SOTU speech for “Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people (governing.com/topics).” This comment is more in the mode of an authoritarian leader trying to purge non-political civil service workers. Such workers have been protected in the U.S. since the late 19th Century. These many unknown and unheralded workers provide the necessary impartial know how our government needs. Donald only wants “yes people.” In “Donald World,” anyone who even worked on Obama policies is considered a “traitor.” Already, several State Department employees have hired attorneys. They are charging Trump’s Sec. of State Rex Tillerson with having them re-assigned to career “purgatory” posts because they had previously worked on implementing Obama policies (CNN Labott, 1/26/18). This statement about “removing federal employees” may also indicate Trump wants to goad Congress to go after Special Counsel Robert Mueller and FBI employees “threatening” him over the Russian meddling investigation.

Kudos to the New York Daily News! This paper, considered a tabloid by many, showed the NY Times and Washington Post how to correctly handle Donald on its front page. Instead of praising “Gentler Donald,” its front page had a picture of narcissistic Trump applauding himself as he gave his own SOTU speech. The headline read, “WHAT A LOAD OF CLAP.” Exactly. Clapping as one gives his own speech is what authoritarian, especially Communist leaders, often did. The NY Daily News has fiercely criticized Trump, even during the 2016 election campaign. At that time, many other outlets thought Donald was a joke, but, nevertheless, gave him oodles worth of free exposure (See huffingtonpost.com).

In his fact check of “Gentler” Trump, NY Times opinion writer Kristof stated that the role of the press “isn’t to applaud politicians but to provide accountability (1/30/18, NY Times).” Kristoff, of course, agrees with what our Founding Fathers believed about the media’s role. The Founding Fathers wanted a free press as a check upon our leaders so that we could maintain our democracy. They also felt that the various factions in the House and Senate could check each other as well as the President. Were they alive today, the Founders would be horrified to observe how our present GOP-run Congress not only doesn’t check its various members, but also echoes everything its leader Donald does. Many of these Congressmen even run interference, politically “blocking and tackling” for Demagogue Donald. Exhibit A—FBI/ Department of Justice memo smearing Cong. Devin Nunes (R-CA). When the Executive and Legislative branch do not exercise accountability, the media must be ever vigilant. Writing “puff” titles about “Gentler” Donald does not foster accountability or properly inform the public.

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