Yesterday was a particularly bad morning.
A number of media outlets decided to publish editorials reminding their readers of the Constitutionally secured status of the media as part of a democratic society. It is ridiculous that they even had to do this. It is ridiculous that in an advanced industrialized country the media had to remind people (or tell them for the first time) that independent journalism is a guarantor of individual rights. Without journalism, information, we have no way of controlling government, corporations, the powerful, anything.
But, media anchors in covering this story yesterday were seriously asking other media representatives if the defense of this constitutional right was “counterproductive” because it “feeds into” Trump’s narrative that the media is the enemy of the people. WHAT? I SAID WHAT? The argument is that one shouldn’t say what is obviously true for fear of provoking a reaction by liars and charlatans?
How can intellectually functioning adults sit on a set and ask questions like this? Do they not even think through what they are saying on national television?
O.K. Next. Donald Trump takes away the security clearance from John Brennan to signal that anyone, especially those in the intelligence community, opposing his policies, questioning his actions, or speaking out against him will be punished. He has already made sure that the careers of Justice Department officials who might testify against him, have have been seriously affected, if not destroyed. This is the behavior of a autocrat – using the government to destroy anyone who opposes him.
There is no doubt that this is what he is doing. He even admitted it before the day was out. The direction here is crystal clear. Omarosa herself once said in an interview with NPR that the Trump presidency was about making people bow down, everybody who had ever questioned, challenged, or criticized Trump. Stephen Miller said on national television that no one was allowed to question Trump.
If you have half a brain you can look at the actions of this administration and see that Trump and the Republican party are advancing a coup, a slow coup, but a coup. They are installing one-party government, a kleptocracy with dictatorial powers, run for the benefit of a few wealthy individuals. And it has to be stopped.
But, the discussion on morning cable news yesterday was not about Trump’s clear use of the federal government to destroy his enemies, about the serious implications this has for a democracy. The narrative was actually about John Brennan’s behavior, whether Brennan “crossed a line” or whether he was “too political.” His motives were even called “impure” by Noah Rothman in a weird kind of rationalization where he both argued that Brennan was at fault and that Trump’s action was abuse of power.
But, damn it, JOHN BRENNAN IS NOT THE ISSUE. This is not about what John Brennan has done or said, it is about TRYING TO SILENCE and INTIMIDATE OPPOSITION. If they can do it to John Brennan, who is next?
But, the Cable news media never disappoints when it comes to trivializing every event. The conservative wimp-ass line started (at least for me) Thursday night with Elise Jordan, who I have no doubt is decent enough personally. She was vociferously arguing with Katy Tur that Brennan shouldn’t have a security clearance anyway. Jordan argued that Brennan didn’t need a security clearance because the administration wouldn’t rely on his advice. He had, according to Jordan, clearly made himself objectionable to the administration. In her mind, Brennan deserved to have had his security clearance taken away.
But, damn it, JOHN BRENNAN ISN’T THE POINT.
Whether Brennan should or shouldn’t have a security clearance isn’t the point. The goddamn point is that Trump took the security clearance away to punish him for speech, and to intimidate other speech. This is a dangerous path, an extremely dangerous path.
Fortunately, the discussion Thursday night was a little better, but this morning, on MSNBC, the head of Axios was advancing a truly strange argument that Trump was not trying to silence speech, he was actually attempting to elevate Brennan, to make him more important. Trump himself then picked up this argument on the White House lawn talking to reporters. I have no idea what the guy from Axois was arguing.
Trump and the Republican party are clearly moving to install one-party rule in this country and it’s not going to be nice. As someone else said today, there’s nothing I would put past them in pursuing this goal.
MY HAIR IS ON FIRE.