Trump's War on Press Is A Key Signal of Authoritarian Objectives In Repressive Societies

Artist Lucian Wintrich has seen a remarkable rise in his professional resume, moving quickly from founding 'Twinks4Trump' and organizing a Brooklyn art gallery, October 2016 benefit 'DaddyWillSaveUs' to credentialed White House correspondent.  ArtNews writes:

Wintrich, 28, will represent the Gateway Pundit, a far-right website where he’s written articles like “Government Leeches Scared of Federal Freeze – Threaten to Take Down Trump” and “Buzzfeed Admits Liberal ‘Fake News’ No Longer Works—Points to Gateway Pundit as News of Future.”

The site recently became infamous during the confirmation hearings of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, when it erroneously reported that Washington Post homepage editor Doris Truong was caught secretly photographing Tillerson’s notes, prompting her to face a wave of internet hate. In fact, Gateway Pundit had mistaken Truong for another person at the hearing, apparently because she was also an Asian woman.

Wintrich shared a photoshoot of fellow Trump lover Milo Yiannopoulos in advance of the 'Twinks4Trump' Brooklyn show.  We wouldn't be surprised to see Yiannopoulos himself with White House press credentials as part of a new journalism venture, after his Tuesday February 21 resignation as a senior editor at Breitbart News. 

Related: Milo Yiannopoulos: Out At Breitbart, Out At CPAC & Out Of A Book Deal, The Showman Will Rise Again. Shed No Tears For Milo AOC Daily

Related: Milo Yiannopoulos Loses 'Dangerous' Book Deal & CPAC Speech. Is His Breitbart Job Also On The Line? AOC Women's News

Milo Yiannopoulos by lucian b. wintrich via breitbart news

Milo Yiannopoulos by lucian b. wintrich via breitbart news

Wintrich's new appointment was announced by Gateway Pundit at the January 18 'Deploraball' as a celebration of alt-right internet trolls committed to electing their 'Daddy'.  Gateway Pundit led the #fakenews info war around Hillary Clinton's health. Wintrich made his first professional appearance at President Trump's press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, joined below by Gateway Pundit owner Jim Hoft. 

The New York Times reported on a telephone interview with Wintrich from the West Wing, where he said he would "be reporting far more fairly than a lot of the very left-wing outlets that are currently occupying the briefing room." Wintrich shared a glimpse into the future "trolling of the media in general here."

Asked what kind of trolling of his fellow White House correspondents was on the docket, Wintrich replied "I don't want to give too much away. We have some pretty solid stuff planned." 

Gateway pundit founder Jim Hoft with lucian  wintritch at trump/trudeau at january 2016 press conference

Gateway pundit founder Jim Hoft with lucian  wintritch at trump/trudeau at january 2016 press conference

Trump tweets: Press "is the enemy of the American people" Politico

In a now deleted tweet from Friday afternoon, February 17, President Donald Trump charged that the media is the enemy of the American people. Trump singled out The New York Times, CNN and NBC News in particular, before revising the tweet 16 minutes later to include ABC and CBS. 

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” the amended tweet said.

On Thursday, Trump's campaign released a 30-question “mainstream media accountability survey” asking supporters whether they trust outlets such as MSNBC, CNN and Fox News to report on his campaign “fairly.” The survey was shared on Facebook and answered by many progressives, including myself.  

The degree of leading-the-witness questions was astounding, making it the most biased survey I have ever seen. Apparently, the Trump campaign didn't like the responses and results of the survey, and another version of it was circulating on Facebook Wednesday, January 22, 

Note that 1) AOC supports the rights of voices like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus as part of his First Amendment rights; and 2) we also believe that the expansion of Shawn Spicer's daily briefing to include Skype questions is a good idea. 

We do not support this aggressive war on the established media as a positive mission for President Trump. There is no presidential candidate or president who has more Pants on Fire ratings from PolitiFact. 

In a Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday, February 23, 90% of those surveyed believe it's "very important" or "somewhat important" that journalists "hold public officials accountable." Half of those polled said they disapprove of how news organizations have covered Trump (hugely Trump voters and supporters) but 61% of respondents -- 61% -- say they disapprove of how Trump portrayed the media. 52% said they trusted the media more than Trump to tell them the truth. 

In the same Quinnipiac University poll of 1,323 landline and cell phone respondents, 58% said Trump is dividing the country, with only 36% saying the President is working to unite it. Trump's approval rating among independent voters was 38%-55%.

Trump Launches War on Established Media

McCain, Critics Say Trump's Gone Too Far With Press War Newsweek

Many prominent voices suggest that President Donald Trump's assault on media credibility has gone too far. Speaking to Chuck Todd on 'Meet the Press' Senator John McCain articulated the fears of many Americans. 

"The fact is I, we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital,"  McCain, who is featured in this week's New York Magazine cover story. 

"If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started."

Many Americans believe the press was largely responsible for Trump's rise to power, giving him unfettered, daily access to morning news shows. There's a note of irony to watch Trump turn on the press with his daily criticisms of "fake news" and the "dishonest media" from the bully pulpit of the presidency. Trump supporters eat up his sparring with reporters in news conferences or telling crowds the media has no credibility. On Saturday, Trump took his message to an adoring crowd in Melbourne, Florida, insisting that the media "opposition party" makes up sources and have "become a big part of the problem." Those comments followed a Friday night tweet in which the president wrote that the "fake news media" is "the enemy of the American people."

McCain warns that dictators "get started by suppressing a free press. In other words, a consolidation of power, when you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I'm not saying that that's, that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history."

Fox News host Chris Wallace said on Fox & Friends that Trump has "crossed an important line" by branding the media as the "enemy" and says McCain is "exactly right" with his comparisons to the origins of dictatorships.

“And I know there are a lot of (Fox News) listeners out there who are going to reflexively take Donald Trump’s side on this,” Wallace said. “It’s a different thing when it’s a president because if it’s a president you like trying to talk about the press being the enemy of the people, then it’s going to be a president you don’t like saying the same thing. And that’s very dangerous.”

Former Republican presidential contender John Kasich was not nearly as effusive as McCain but defended the press on CNN's "State of the Union. "Thank God you're there," he said. "While I don't always agree with the reporting of the press, they're vital. They're such an important part of democracy."

Journalist Carl Bernstein, a key reporter who broke the Watergate scandal, compared Trump's actions to the Nixon presidency.

"Trump's attacks on the American press as enemies of the American people are more treacherous than Richard Nixon's attacks on the press," he said on CNN's "Reliable Sources." "There is a history of what 'enemy of the people,' that phrase means, as used by dictators and authoritarians."

Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat and member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also compared Trump to both Nixon and dictators in comments on ABC's "This Week."

"I didn’t think I could be shocked anymore by this president but I have to say, of all the things you said since he became president or since the election, this to me was the most devastating and the most alarming that he essentially views the First Amendment—because that’s what these organizations represent—as an enemy of the people," he said.

"This is something that you hear tin-pot dictators say when they want to control all of the information. It’s not something you’ve ever heard a president of the United States say, not even Nixon went there, and it is deeply concerning. I hope it is repudiated by people from both parties because this is not America."

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