Trump again threatens the media. Will the media care?

In an infamous article from 1922, The New York Times introduced the United States to a rising German politician by insisting that "Hitler's anti-Semitism was not so violent or genuine as it sounded." It would be nice to think that in the intervening century the nation’s largest media outlets have learned a lesson. And they have. They’ve learned to lean into it.

As Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson reported on Tuesday, a new study shows that the media is willing to cut Donald Trump infinite slack when it comes to using dehumanizing and threatening language toward everyone he sees as an opponent. Which is … everyone. Democrats. Republicans. Former members of his staff. Judges. The whole legal system. Steve Jobs’ widow.

But no one seems as eager to indulge Trump as America’s leading news outlets. It’s not just that they’re willing to look the other way when he attacks others; they are also eternally willing to bend over and take another one for team “objective journalism.” Except what they’re promoting isn’t anything like fairness, and what they’re protecting certainly isn’t some platonic ideal of truth.  

The nation’s major media outlets are begging Trump to hurt them again. Hurt them good. Oh, and to destroy the nation while he’s at it.

Overnight, Trump attacked MSNBC. The reason for this isn’t particularly clear and doesn’t particularly matter. However, in this attack, Trump makes an overt threat against the network, its leader, and the whole concept of the First Amendment.

In response to Trump’s attack, NBC News has issued this heartfelt reply: silence. But then, why wouldn’t they? They also didn’t comment back in September, when Trump threatened NBC’s parent company and insisted they should be investigated for “Country Threatening Treason.”

Silence in response to Trump’s threats is what major media outlets do.

Trump already declared the free press “the enemy of the people.” He already put journalists in cages so that his supporters could jeer them as Trump pointed them out for mockery. He didn’t do these things in the early days of his 2016 campaign. He did them while occupying the White House. Trump stood behind the bully pulpit and regularly informed the American public that the media was their enemy.

Those journalists were in a cage for a rally that Trump held in 2018, far from any presidential election. That the link to that Iowa rally is from an Australian news outlet is not a coincidence, as the reporter from that outlet seems to be the only one who was shocked by the way journalists were being pointed out for threats and derision, or by how an undercover filmmaker approached the cage to whisper that he was too afraid to try and conduct interviews, or how they weren’t even allowed to go to the bathroom without being supervised by a member of Trump’s staff. By that point, American journalists following Trump seemed to have simply accepted this as their lot.

Just over a month ago, Trump threatened journalists with prison rape unless they gave up sources who were informing on Trump’s crimes. And those same journalists went back to work the next day, cutting Trump every possible break.

The biggest of those breaks is simply this: Acting as if because Trump espouses fascism, racism, misogyny, bigotry, and violence every day, it’s not news. This is the most ass-backward idea ever cooked up in a newsroom. The fact that Trump does it over, and over, and over is the news. Responsible, objective journalism isn’t ignoring Trump’s threats because he makes them regularly. The regularity of his vile statements makes them both worse and more newsworthy.

If the mass media treated the Son of Sam killings the way they do Donald Trump, they would have stopped reporting after the first victim. After all, it’s just more of the same thing, right?

Trump is out there attacking journalists every day. He’s out there spitting on the First Amendment every day. He’s doubling down on his attacks on democracy every day. And all major media seems to think about is how many more clicks, views, and ad dollars they will make if they can use silence and selective reporting to ease Trump over the line to the White House.

Every time Trump calls out journalists or a media outlet, the reaction seems to be the same. Rather than fighting back, or defending their reporting, outlets slink further into the placating corner. Or hire another former Trump official. They seemed genuinely more concerned about offending Nazis than fighting them.

News outlets appear willing to keep up the pretense of being objective, even when studies show that they are leaning on the accelerator for Trump. They’ll keep up that pretense even in the face of the absolute reality that, should their boost carry Trump back to the Oval Office, he will come for them. He will come for the “enemies of the people.” He will come for those guilty of “country threatening treason.” He will make the days when he only put reporters in cages and encouraged the crowd to scream at them seem like a fond memory.

Trump is dedicated to destroying democracy. He’s absolutely insistent on ending the free press. He is openly using Nazi propaganda and threatening to repeat the most despicable events in history. Even so, as Laura wrote on Tuesday:

There is no question, by the hard numbers, that the media is giving Donald Trump a pass. His dehumanizing rhetoric describing his political opponents as “vermin” that he will “root out” is a nonstory as far as the broadcast networks, cable news networks, and largest newspapers in the country are concerned

Unless something changes, it will go on being a nonstory right up until the time Trump is telling them what stories are allowed.

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No, Republicans, Trump’s indictment isn’t about free speech

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell might not be commenting on the former president’s latest indictment, but those Republicans who have spoken up are dismissing Donald Trump’s alleged conspiracy to overthrow an election by claiming that it was merely “free speech.”

Apparently it is now a crime to make statements challenging election results if a prosecutor decides those statements aren’t true. So when should we expect indictments of the democrat politicians who falsely claimed Russia hacked the 2016 election?

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 2, 2023

“Apparently it is now a crime to make statements challenging election results if a prosecutor decides those statements aren’t true,” Sen. Marco Rubio asserted, knowing full well that this is not about Trump’s statements, but about his actions.

Bogus “free speech” arguments are a tried-and-true Republican favorite, and Trump’s legal team is no exception. “[O]ur focus is on the fact that this is an attack on free speech, and political advocacy,” said Trump lawyer John Lauro on CNN. “And there’s nothing that’s more protected, under the First Amendment, than political speech.” (Lauro might want to do a quick review of how that defense has been working for Jan. 6 defendants, including the Proud Boys.)

Special counsel Jack Smith knew this would be a key argument from Trump, and quickly debunked it on page 2 of the indictment. “The Defendant had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won,” the indictment says. “He was also entitled to formally challenge the results of the election through lawful and appropriate means …. [I]n many cases, the Defendant did pursue these methods of contesting the election results. His efforts … were uniformly unsuccessful.

“Shortly after Election Day, the Defendant also pursued unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.” That’s what Trump is being indicted for: his actions.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of the Jan. 6 committee and lead manager of Trump’s second impeachment, explained all of this during a appearance on MSNBC, poking a big hole in Republican arguments with a simple analogy. “[Y]ou can say ‘I think the currency is phony and everybody should be allowed to make up their own money … but the minute that you start printing your own money, now you run afoul of the counterfeit laws, and it’s the exact same thing with the Electoral College,” the Maryland Democrat said.

Here’s the full transcript:

We know that our friends across the aisle are trying to mobilize some big free speech defense of Donald Trump here, which is just comical. Of course you have a right to say for example, “I think that the meeting of the House and the Senate in joint session to count Electoral College votes is a fraud or is taking away Donald Trump’s presidency.” You can say whatever you want, but the minute you actually try to obstruct the meeting of Congress, you crossed over from speech to conduct.

It’s like you can say, “I think the currency is phony and everybody should be allowed to make up their own money.” You can say that, but the minute that you start printing your own money, now you run afoul of the counterfeit laws, and it’s the exact same thing with the Electoral College. They can say, “Well, we don’t think that Joe Biden really won in these states,” even though every federal and state court rejected all of their claims of electoral fraud and corruption. The minute that they start manufacturing counterfeit electors and trying to have them substitute for the real electors that came through the federal and state legal process, at that point, they’ve crossed over from speech to conduct. I think the indictment is really tight in focusing just on the conduct.

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Conservatives cried about how the “woke” (whatever that means) “Barbie” movie would fail. It didn’t. In fact, the film has struck a chord with American and international audiences. Daily Kos writer Laura Clawson joins Markos to talk about the film and the implications of the Republican Party’s fixation on mythical culture wars, which is failing them in bigger and bigger ways every day.

Infowars host Owen Shroyer overlooked in abortion coverage while Jan. 6 plea deal may be in works

Owen Shroyer has a history of promoting his anti-abortion stance publicly. There is a reported record of his sharing misinformation or outright false information about organizations like Planned Parenthood, including the lie that they engage in human sacrifice rituals. 

This is untrue, like much else that springs forth from Shroyer’s lips or that of his cohort, Alex Jones, the host of the popular right-wing conspiracy program known as InfoWars.

And if people were unfamiliar with Shroyer for InfoWars, or perhaps wouldn’t recognize his face from a public outburst he had during an impeachment inquiry hearing for Trump in 2019—he was hauled out by police—they could also turn to the wealth of public reporting that exists about Shroyer and his very public fight to beat charges related to the attack of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Owen Shroyer was led out of a public impeachment inquiry hearing for President Donald Trump. 

And yet, when ABC ran World News Tonight on Sunday, the network included a video clip where Shroyer is briefly interviewed about his anti-abortion stance. He is, bizarrely, identified only as a “protester” in the chyron below his name.

Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast

Noted by Media Matters for America first, what makes the chyron particularly concerning is that less than 24 hours before this interview in Texas by a reporter for ABC’s KVUE affiliate, Shroyer boosted his apperance on Infowars for over an hour. 

During that Infowars program, Shroyer is even seen in clips wearing the same shirt as he did in the ABC interview. He was also carrying a giant picture of a crying baby’s face with him that he apparently cut out, glued to a stick, and held up over his own to taunt pro-abortion rights activists. 

The plain descriptor of Shroyer at the protest is also troublesome because of his history of trolling the abortion rights movement and capitalizing on fears of violence. On the ninth anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2018 by Scott Roeder, for example, Shroyer coordinated a protest in Texas and live-streamed right outside of the Texas Planned Parenthood. 

Meanwhile, Shroyer’s defense attorney made a virtual appearance in federal Washington, D.C., court on Monday afternoon as his client pushes to have criminal charges for Jan. 6 dropped, including entering restricted grounds and disorderly conduct. 

Shroyer, who was arrested in August, has argued that because he is a journalist he should not be charged. His conduct on Jan. 6, he claims, was protected speech under the First Amendment. 

Interestingly, when Shroyer’s Infowars colleague Alex Jones was in divorce court fighting for custody of his children with then-wife Kelly Jones, Alex Jones’s lawyer described Infowars—on the record—as “fake news” and told the judge that Jones was just playing a character. 

Shroyer couched his First Amendment claim in the argument that he was merely trying to calm the mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and essentially do crowd control. The judge presiding over his case, U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly, an appointee of former President Donald Trump’s, rejected that bid once before. 

Motion to Dismiss Shroyer Second Attempt by Daily Kos on Scribd

Another status conference for Shroyer was set for June 23, according to an entry on the court docket by Judge Kelly. 

Shroyer’s attorney, Norm Pattis, told Daily Kos in an email Monday, that after the hearing Monday, no plea agreements had been struck yet. 

“We are negotiating,” he said. 

Another plea agreement appears to be well in the works for fellow Infowars staffer Samuel Christopher Montoya.

Montoya—who was reported to the FBI by his family before his arrest last April—was meant to appear in court Monday for a status conference. But late last week, his attorney filed a motion to delay the hearing as a plea agreement was negotiated. 

US Montoya Motion to Continue Hearing by Daily Kos on Scribd