Our president has called America’s free press an “enemy of the American people.” I do not believe he used that expression in his expansive ignorance. Perhaps he doesn’t know the bells it rings, but his chief strategist, Steve Bannon would know: This expression comes straight from Stalinist Russia. And there it meant the labor camp or a firing squad.
Unlike Stalin, Trump was referring to the mainstream media. This aggressive undermining of public trust in the media is a necessary function of dictators. If he does not see himself as dictator-in-training why would he use such expressions? He cannot say it was a joke, not an exaggeration. It’s an extremely serious thing to say.
There is nothing here that we can call reasonable or normal. It’s time for Republicans in Congress to pay attention. These words have meaning.
The White House didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Trump’s tweet came one day after he spent a major chunk of a meandering 77-minute press conference disparaging the press. He called the media “out of control” and “dishonest.” He also blamed what he called the “fake media” for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation, claiming reporters treated the former general “very unfairly.”
He also frequently attacks publications on his Twitter account and has claimed that polls showing negative ratings for him are “fake news.”