Trump intensifies his attack on the free press

Trump is in Poland, and he’s done a press conference and then a speech. The speech was ok because of course someone else wrote it and he simply read it. The presser was the usual embarrassment.

Then there is Trump’s willingness to continue his ongoing war with the media while abroad — and not just abroad but in a country where freedom of the press has been considerably curtailed in recent years.

The first question Trump took in Thursday’s press conference was from David Martosko, the US politics editor for and a man who was once mentioned as a possible press secretary in this White House. And it was focused on CNN’s alleged “fake news” coverage of the president.

Past presidents traveling abroad might have deflected the question, acknowledging that the press didn’t always get it right but pivoting to a broader defense of the absolute necessity of a free and independent media.

Not Trump.

“I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them,” he said. “As you know, they now have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very dishonest way.”

That right there? Wholly inappropriate. Fifth Column level inappropriate. Quisling level inappropriate. It’s a frank lie that CNN is fake news, and he’s basically flinging shit at his own country and its institutions by saying it is…along with demonstrating just how self-centered and narcissistic he is, in case Poland had missed it until now.

After asking the Polish prime minister whether they had that same problem with the media — Nota bene: Recent crackdowns on the Polish media have led to the country dropping from 18th in 2015 to 54th in 2017 in the World Press Freedom Index — Trump offered up another broadside on the American media:

What we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free, but honest press. We want to see fair press. I think it is a very important thing. We don’t want fake news. And by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing, very bad for our country.

That’s Trump aggressively undermining the free press while in a country that has worked to stifle media dissent in recent years. That’s truly remarkable.

Yes, it is. Remarkable and horrifying and profoundly dismal.

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