Trump seems confused about the media’s job. That they report things that happen has been a shock for him. Perhaps used to the fake reality of reality TV he has been spoiled by the idea of being edited to look powerful and in control, rather than the chaotic, foolish, racist, hate monger the media has revealed using magical devices that record actual reality.
Confusing his relationship with the media with that of a betrayed teen, at the first big boy news conference he got to handle alone he said “I never get phone calls from the media. How did they write a story like that in The Wall Street Journal without asking me…?”
To be fair, asking is no guarantee a reporter will have any facts to take away. Altfacts perhaps, still called lies by everyone but Trump and Kellyanne Conway, but nothing resembling information one could rely on. So was his first solo news conference what it appeared to be? On the surface, it was a live broadcast of a man in need of a briefing, combative, unaware of the ramifications of his words, ranting and unravelling before our eyes. I hope so, because the alternative is chilling.
The administration the media describe as chaotic, Trump calls a ‘finely tuned machine’. Which would mean that the chaos at airports all over America, angering China, having over 1000 staff members sign a letter of dissent, human rights violations, being resisted by scientists (Go Rebel Alliance!), having every branch of the government start their own rogue twitter accounts, approving a covert mission that ended in 24 civilian deaths, global protests, high level staff resignations, putting Iran on notice, losing a battle of wits to Arnold Schwarzenegger, pissing off big business because their employees can’t travel due to the #muslimban, getting sued for ignoring the constitution and any number of other horrific and stupid things his administration has done in the last month (only a month? Seriously?), are apparently deliberate. Those are our choices. This is a grand scale cluster f**k with enormously high stakes, or Trump and team are deliberately trying to end democracy and perhaps the world as we know it.
The scary thing is they probably are. As Lee Gelernt, human rights lawyer points out when interviewed by Samantha Bee, “It feels like they’ve overstepped so far that even when they step back they’re still way off the cliff…” “…and that may be their strategy. Even the pushback keeps us well beyond anything any other administration has ever done. And they are pushing the limits of the Constitution beyond the breaking point.”
When Masha Gessen, Russian author and dissident was interviewed by Bee, she said ‘My biggest worry is a nuclear holocaust.” It seems absurd that this was in fact the aim of the Trump administration, until Timothy Snyder, author of ‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” points out the possibility that the Trump administration far from being a chaotic, confused, insane, horrible beast, is in fact a calculating, insane, horrible beast.
Snyder describes a president that ignores institutions and will not be restrained by them. Certainly Trump’s behaviour has not been modified by the media, the judiciary, the mantle of office, or the Republican Party. Snyder says “They seem to be after a kind of redo of the 1930s…where we don’t build a welfare state and don’t intervene in Europe to stop fascism.” He points out that Steve Bannon has actually said “he wants to “…make life as exciting as it was in the 1930s.”” That both Trump and Bannon were aware the phrase ‘America First’ was the name of the movement that attempted to stop America from fighting Nazi Germany when it was used in the inaugural address.
The insanity is not an accident of a new and inexperienced administration but an orchestrated nightmare. Back in November The Hollywood Reporter quotes Trump’s right hand man, “Darkness is good,” Bannon said to Michael Wolff. “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”
Are the American public now the blind ‘they’ Bannon as Vader is deluding? Clearly we need the Rebel Alliance more than ever. Wolff reported that as chief strategist Bannon is “in charge of vision, goals, narrative and plan of attack…” so far that plan has created division, confusion, anger, chaos and rapid change in American politics, why is it so hard for us to believe that this is intentional?
When Bannon is a member of the administration that puts Iran on notice and angers China, whose leader says “I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea. And I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do with Iran.” a confrontational approach that concedes nothing to diplomacy, we should understand that Bannon sees war as inevitable and is in no way discouraged by this. He says himself “We have to face a very unpleasant fact. And that unpleasant fact is that there is a major war brewing [with the Islamic Caliphate], a war that’s already global. It’s going global in scale, and today’s technology, today’s media, today’s access to weapons of mass destruction, it’s going to lead to a global conflict that I believe has to be confronted today.”
Bannon is making the omelette while Trump breaks the eggs in their quest to take down American institutions that stand in the way of their plan to dismantle the current state. What will America be left with once this administration has rid themselves of the rule of law, the right to protest and the checks and balances of the American political system? In effect they are getting rid of the entire system which will then allow Bannon, and his representative Trump, to in Bannon’s words “… govern for 50 years”.
With all they have accomplished in a month, imagine what 50 years of this kind of rule would achieve.
References (ones that really reported real events).
Moynihan, R., (2017, January 31). Letter #6b, 2017: Steve Bannon, in his own words. Retrieved from www.insidethevatican.com 18 February 2017
Trump, D., (2017, February 16). Full transcript and video: Trump news conference. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com 18 February, 2017.
Wolff, (2016, 18 November). Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower as the President-Elect’s Strategist Plots “An Entirely New Political Movement.” Retrieved from www.thehollywoodreporter.com 18 February, 2017
Wright, M., (2017, 2 February). Check out Samantha Bee’s interview with civil rights lawyer and ‘freedom nerd’ Lee Gelernt. Retrieved from www.splitsider.com 18.2.2017
MSN news, (2017, 19 January). Full frontal is scared Masha Gessen edition. Retrieved from www.msn.com
Andra Jenkin co-wrote Double-Edged Sword- The Simonne Butler Story, and contributed to New Zealand Anthology of Women’s Comics ‘Three Words.’