It’s not difficult to imagine the president sitting in his bedroom late at night, bathrobe-clad, unable to divert his attention away from picking at the scabs on his legs. He never meant to let it get this bad, and he knows he has to let them heal, but the acute relief has driven him to *pick* *pick* *pick* until blood red intermingles with the Nor-rich Blend hue of his skin.
While the vision I’ve presented may cause distress, it’s no more disturbing than the metaphorical obsessive scab-picking Donald Trump can’t seem to stop himself from doing when it comes to perceived or actual slights. Whether by the judicial branch, the Democratic congressional bloc, the Deep State, ordinary citizens practicing their right to assembly or the news media, Trump finds dissent intolerable and will do everything in his power to quell disagreement.
In the case of the media, there’s been not so much a creep as an all-out offensive against the Fourth Estate meant to neutralize any impact their reporting might have. Trump’s style, and in point of fact the preferred method of modern authoritarians, is direct communication. Hence his ruining Twitter forever, hence taking progressively bolder steps to deligitimize uncomplimentary purveyors of information by branding them “fake” and “the enemy of the people”.‡ With the media no longer able to dilute or question his message with any efficacy, his consolidation of power will be that much harder to resist.
His latest affront is in some ways his most openly boundary-pushing to date.
The White House on Friday blocked a number of media outlets, including CNN and POLITICO, from an off-camera briefing with press secretary Sean Spicer, while allowing in a select group of journalists that included many conservative outlets.
The White House had earlier planned on having an on-camera gaggle with Spicer in the briefing room, but the administration later in the day changed it to a restricted off-camera gaggle in Spicer’s office.
As the administration’s controversies proliferate at an astounding rate, their need to bottleneck the flow of communication to preserve their legitimacy in the eyes of The Movement is ever more pressing. A secondary but no less vital function of icing out their critics is that the Trump faithful eat up a “ballsy” strike against the Liberal Media like it’s a plate of grilled red meat and potatoes. As long as they’re sating their appetite for symbolic violence against the enemy, they aren’t thinking about the reporting that led to the off-camera briefing in the first place.
Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.
The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia.
The Deep State war rages on…
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‡ Not to suggest that corporation-controlled media establishments are always on the side of the American people. That their interests seem to coincide with the public so closely right now speaks more to how unusual this moment in our country’s history is.