Anyone with a real interest in democracy must feel discomfort at President Trump’s blanket dismissal of the media as “fake news”.
In his latest outburst, yet again, he encouraged the crowd at his rally, to turn on the reporters.
This whipping up of hatred has been a theme of Trump’s rallies since he first launched his bid to become president. You may remember at one of his early rallies some of his supporters wore T-shirts showing a journalist, a tree and a rope with the slogan “Some assembly required”.
To anyone who believes that the role of the media is to investigate, interpret and report what the authorities are doing in our name, this attack on the media is very disturbing.
If there was a book ‘How to Establish a Totalitarian State’, ‘Attacking the Media’ would surely be its very first chapter.
The media are, after all, the enemy of any politician and any state that does not want their actions analysed and reported for the public to see.
It is a matter of record that, within the first few weeks of gaining power, Hitler’s Nazis seized printing presses and the Nazi-owned publishing house set about taking over newspapers across the country, sometimes using holding companies to disguise the state control. Meanwhile Nazi supporting students organised mass burning of books which contained views that opposed Nazi ideology.
In today’s world, Steve Bannon, one of the architects of Trump’s election as President of the United States, is said to be setting up in Europe, with the intent to swing European politics to the far right.
The far right fascists came to power in Germany 85 years ago. Three years later the Spanish Civil War started the fascist wars in Europe. There was, of course, worse to come with the horrors of the Second World War – a battle to free Europe from hatred, xenophobia and unspeakable evil.
Now, in 2018, it is as if the lessons of fascism have been forgotten as politics on both sides of the Atlantic veers in that direction once more. Now – as many in the generations who experienced the horrors of war are no longer with us – we need a free press and media to investigate, interpret and inform.