Opinion: Trump, truth and the media
To the Editor: Thank you for your prescient editorial column of January 18, 2017, regarding threats to press freedom under President Donald Trump, titled “With Trump in charge, what’s next for media?”
Since November 8, 2016, many around the world have been asking, “How did this happen?” I think I know now.
I think Team Trump decisively tapped into a base of people whose ideas most of us — especially the mainstream press — dismiss and ignore.
(Before my text proceeds any further, I wish to clarify I mean no offense to those who support Trump along traditional party lines: I respect and am grateful for your opinions.)
Why while campaigning did Trump disparage women during his campaign? Or say he would make Mexico build a wall? Why did he say he would create a Muslim registry?
Why did he call Chicago’s Southside “hell”? Why did he attack the press when during a campaign he might need them? Why did he keep saying things are so damn bad the United States is basically a shithole without him?
Trump said all those unconventional things because he was cultivating his base. He said those things to get elected.
By speaking to the fears of online fringe readers seeking Santa Barbara shooter-like manifestos; Armageddon- and Rapture-ready sermons; twig and insect prepper recipes; anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic diatribes; justifications for bias against people of color or LGBTQ persuasion; or whatever makes people different … Trump built a base that is far outside traditional ideas of who and what defines a Republican voter.
It didn’t take Russian hackers or Comey to tip the scales in Trump’s favor because, of course, there’s also the Second Amendment.
While Trump was saying things like he wouldn’t make changes to Medicaid, he was again just saying what people wanted to hear. He lied to get those votes.
We know now he will keep lying. Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer challenged the press within Trump’s first 72 hours in office and essentially said repeatedly on air that we the people should expect “alternative facts” from this administration unless the mainstream press is willing to disseminate their lies.
Why would Trump continue to attack the press now that he is president? Doesn’t he understand he needs them?
Strategically, he doesn’t need any one of them, except Fox. To get re-elected in four years he will keep nurturing his fringe base, a group especially distrustful of mainstream media, and he will use Fox so he can hang on to enough reasonable Republicans to once again tip the scales in his favor.
I can think of no other way to explain what has been happening between Trump, the truth and the media. And I wish us all good luck.
Anne Grogan is a Reno resident.