Donald Trump, Twitter and distraction

Compare and contrast:

Less than a month ago, on 20th January, Donald Trump took this very solemn oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

That constitution enshrines the rights of a free press and democracy.

Last night, 4 weeks after he took above oath of office, the President of the United States, the so-called leader of the free world, someone with more power than most others on this planet of ours, tweeted this:

What had got his goat this time was coverage of his bizarre press conference when he attacked the media. It’s a pity that the media claims can’t be verified with video footage of the entire 76 minute extravaganza.

The media is there to be a pain in the backside to those in power. Part of our problem here at the moment is that much of the media is cheerleading for the government rather than putting it under pressure. The rich, Brexiteer owners of our media, in whose interests it is to be out of the scope of EU regulations, are not sufficiently challenged.

What is worrying is that anyone who challenges the wishes of the powerful is denounced as an enemy of the people. Over here, we had the Daily Fail disgracefully demonise Supreme Court judges upholding the law in that fashion. Now we have Trump dismissing any media outlet that disagrees with him in the same fashion.

Who does he think he is? Vladimir Putin?

Tom Malinowski served in the Obama administration as Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. This is what he had to say about Trump’s tweet:

He also retweeted this quote from JFK about the need for a free press:

Of course, all of this is a massive distraction. We do need to be careful that we don’t spend all our energy on Trump’s Twitter rants. We need to look more carefully at what he might be trying to bury with them. The Washington Post, for example, has an article today pointing out the massive cost of keeping the new first family safe.

Nobody objects to paying necessary security costs, but surely there is an obligation on the part of the said first family to arrange their lives in such a way as to minimise those costs. Certainly, they should not be enriching themselves by ensuring that those looking after them don’t have to pay a fortune to them to stay at their resorts.

The Post has had some very good articles, such as this one, on the utter chaos inside the White House and wider administration and is worth keeping an eye on.

Donald Trump’s use of Twitter is going to shock and appal us in many ways for as long as he lasts in office. However, it’s always important to keep an eye on what’s going on beneath the bravado and bluster on social media.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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12 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 18th Feb '17 - 12:17pm

    Psychologists Tversky and Kahneman have a view. People like certainty, perhaps for evolutionary reasons (Are you descended from a monkey on your mother’s side or your father’s?) Some people offer certainty which is not deserved. Is Donald J Trump one of them?
    Probably a majority of the White House staff are African-Americans, who liked having an African-American President.
    Trump’s liking for Brexit implies a preference for direct elections over representative democracy, so, if applied to the USA how about electing the President directly? so that the candidate with more votes, or the most votes, is elected as President.
    Tversky and Kahneman also have a view about “What if?” situations. What if JFK had not been killed? What if a friend or relative had been late trying to catch a civil airliner which crashed? What if takeoff had also been late? (and by how much?)

  • Laurence Cox 18th Feb '17 - 12:46pm

    To understand how Trump can do what he does, one needs to understand that an authoritarian leader needs willing followers. This book by Altemeyer discusses the type of personality characteristics that turn people into willing followers of authoritarian leaders.

    http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf

  • Neil Sandison 18th Feb '17 - 2:20pm

    Agree with previous comments the far right /authoritatian or militatary dictatorships all abhor a free press ,attack objective analysis and re-writes history in their own image .20th Century history is littered with many examples from Adolf Hitler , Bosnia to Poll Pot.
    They must always be challenged and we need to counter their evil fake messages before it becomes the accepted norm .liberals must take this fight on .

  • Simon McGrath 18th Feb '17 - 3:37pm

    Happily the US Constitution protects the freedom of the press. Here on the other hand Lib Dems are supporting plans to have state licencing of the press…..

  • “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    Been tried before and I’m afraid it works.

  • nigel hunter 18th Feb '17 - 4:06pm

    State licensing bad. It puts in the same position as a dictator or authoritarian regime. The truth should be given direct to the voter. This way we can combat the right with papers of this world.

  • Tony Greaves 18th Feb '17 - 4:47pm

    It’s worse than this really. The basic technique of people like this, many but not all of them on the hard right, is what when they are faced with arguments based on evidence and reason (ie rational argument) they ignore it. Instead they attack the person or organisation making the argument.

    By personally discrediting anyone making critical comment, they discredit all opposition arguments by association. It is very effective and very dangerous.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 18th Feb '17 - 5:23pm

    We are in no position , on some issues raised, to lecture a country that does indeed have a freer press and media, from in one where , never mind state licencing for press, you cannot watch television without paying a television licence !

  • Jennifer espeland 18th Feb '17 - 5:24pm

    For Malignant Narcissists – diverting reality and constant chaos are their chosen environment.

  • @Simon McGrath – The USA constitution can and has been amended 27 times, but given the ratification process, Trump would probably have difficulty effecting change to the Constitution to limit press freedom.

  • I have to challenge this ridiculous notion that we have “state licensing of the press”. We support a system where those publications who won’t sign up to a fairly tame self regulation scheme can be subject to greater legal penalties – and even that isn’t being implemented with any enthusiasm.

    And let’s just pause and remember why that was set up – because newspapers were hacking people’s phones. The public has to have some protection against this sort of invasion of their liberty.

    I have absolutely no problem with paying a licence fee to one of the best broadcasters in the world, if not the best. It’s something we should all be very proud of.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Feb '17 - 12:11pm

    Tony Greaves: Yes, there was a woman on the Daily Politics recently arguing against equal pay for women. She argued on an ad hominem basis. Guest of the day was Owen Jones (Labour, Guardian) who was surprised to be accused of being a Marxist.
    This is really about undeclared interests. Does she have a high-earning husband, or a business where she sees these low-earning women as employees? The question was not asked, possibly because of a dislike of ad hominem attacks.

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