Wednesday , August 30, 2017 - 4:00 AM15 comments
Today I’m choosing to remark on a subject dear to my heart, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I may have written about this before, but I don’t remember. The reason my memory fails may be blind rage clouding my mind.
Why so upset? Last week, the president of the United States said reporters are “sick people.”
Naturally, I assumed he must be speaking of Fox News. But then he added: “I really think they don't like our country.” (Notice the “they”/“our” bit of us-versus-them in that latter remark? It’s a classic of the blame-the-media genre of weasel politics.)
So, clearly not Fox, because those folks obviously love America – or at least the part of it that still hates Barack Hussein Obama.
Further, President Donald Trump said, the media are “the source of division” in our nation. “They are trying to take away our history and our heritage.” Again, with the us-versus-them.
Which got me to wondering: Imagine if every time Utah Gov. Gary Herbert didn’t like the news reported about his administration, he claimed the Standard-Examiner, The Salt Lake Tribune and KUTV hated Utah.
I may be wrong, but my guess is that such anti-media harangues wouldn’t fly too far in the Beehive State. We have our media haters, but most people are smart enough to know better. They understand the press’s role in our society: to report the news.
What our president doesn’t like is that much of the news being reported is based on the actual facts of his personal life, presidential campaign and how his White House administration is operating. It’s a dismal story made worse by a man who refuses to admit he’s ever made a mistake.
Failing to win the popular vote? That was voter fraud.
Coming up short on Obamacare repeal and replace? Not for his lack of support. Rather, it was the failure of U.S. Senate leadership.
Backlash over his embrace of racists in the wake of Charlottesville? It’s the media reporting what he said instead of divining his pure heart’s intent.
About that last item, let’s imagine something similar on a statewide level. What if, for example, when news broke of a Southern Utah polygamous leader’s sexual abuse of underage females, our governor – Herbert, Huntsman, Leavitt, take your pick – had offered a Trumpesque reaction? Something like, “You know, there are wonderful polygamists who marry themselves and other men to 13- and 14-year-old girls. Terrific people. You know, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were polygamists. They had many wives, many wives. Were they wrong? Are you saying they were wrong?”
I don’t know, maybe that’s not the most apt comparison. And, obviously, I can’t imagine any of the aforementioned Utah political leaders being that obtuse. But in attempting to fathom a bizarre and improper reaction to horrific behavior, it’s probably in the ballpark.
My point is, I think most Utahns would be stunned by the comparison and take that governor to task. The political leader in our fictional scenario might well lash out at the press who reported on such stupid and offensive remarks, but only because sensible Utahns – including his own political party’s leadership – flayed him on social media and provided comments to reporters who were covering the story and he saw his political future dimmed to utter darkness.
But we Utahns wouldn’t nod our heads and say to ourselves, “Yes, the media hate this state.”
Yet it seems like what half of Americans are doing right now, even if they don’t agree with Trump on his latest foray into race-baiting. I hope it’s only because they don’t appreciate being reminded of the terrible decision they made in the voting booth last November.
I fear, however, it may be something deeper and more ruinous. With his pardon of Joe Arpaio last week, Trump has signaled his eagerness to subvert the judiciary and the rule of law. If he can convince enough Americans to distrust the Fourth Estate, the media’s watchdog role will be rendered ineffective. Then the legislative branch of government will be the only obstacle in his way.
Do you have confidence in Congress to do its job? I don’t either.
Email Don at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DonPondorter.
Sign up for e-mail news updates.