You Let Them Call You Traitor

Four things. The first, this Katy Tur piece referenced by Adrastos, which got a lot of play in journalistic circles last week:

He demanded I apologize.

I didn’t, so Trump decided to go further in Mount Pleasant, pointing his finger squarely at me and launching a personal attack as millions of Americans watched at home.

“What a lie it was,” Trump said, referring to the claim that he had left the stage abruptly. “What a lie. Katy Tur. What a lie it was. Third. Rate. Reporter. Remember that.” The crowd’s boos ricocheted off the iron hull of the USS Yorktown.

The second:

The third: 


The fourth:

When I told a New York Observer reporter that my only regret was that Timothy McVeigh didn’t hit The New York Times building, I knew many would agree with me — but I didn’t expect that to include The New York Times. And yet, the Times is doing everything in its power to help the terrorists launch another attack on New York City.

The last two are no surprise to regular readers of First Draft during the glory days of the Bush administration. Many, many right-wing blogs featured this and other anti-reporter merch, along with regular exhortations to ostracize and even harm reporters along with university professors, kids who wanted healthcare, and other liberal types.

This raging against the media, like so many GOP practices during the Trump campaign, is being billed as some new phenomenon. Now come commentators asking how can the GOP possibly normalize this kind of anti-First Amendment, anti-journalist hate? Now come reporters, some genuinely concerned for their safety, asking when it became okay to hate the press this much?

As with so many things that only seem new because Cheeto Jesus does them louder, inciting anger against reporters has always been okay to the GOP. And I hate to break this to reporters, but it’s been okay to many of their bosses, too. The biggest enablers and normalizers of anti-media rhetoric are assignment editors, executive producers and corporate owners.

Donald Trump hasn’t done a thing to normalize anti-press rhetoric that is more effective than what media bosses have done themselves. Donald Trump did not make CNN hire Corey Lewandowski AFTER HE PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED A REPORTER. Every paycheck that asshole cashes is an insult to whatever journalists still work for the Most Trusted Name in News.

Ann Coulter got a series of fawning profiles in major magazines and her column is syndicated by Universal Press, even after she called for America to invade Muslim countries, “kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”

Howard Kurtz and Michelle Malkin still appear on TV with a regularity anti-war critics can only dream of, after questioning whether kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll had colluded with her abductors. 

I must say, though, that I found her first interview yesterday rather odd. Carroll seemed bent on giving her captors a positive review, going on about how well they treated her, how they gave her food and let her go to the bathroom. And they never threatened to hit her. Of course, as we all saw in those chilling videos, they did threaten to kill her. And they shot her Iraqi translator to death.

(Malkin, by the way, went on to speculate that a Vietnam War hero shot himself in the leg for a medal, but since she said it about a Democrat and not about John McCain, Republicans were spared the need to have a public moral crisis about it.)

Melanie Morgan, a radio host who once called for the execution of then-NYT editor Bill Keller, said in 2006:

“Yes, we’re picking on the New York Times, the poor defenseless New York Times. But I don’t care if it was the New York Times or the L.A. Times or the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. All of you people are equally guilty of treasonous behavior!”

What does Morgan do now? Why, she anchors the “Sonoma County Morning News.”  Her accusations of treason toward the media didn’t seem to affect her getting a media job in any way.

Late USA Today founder Al Neuharth had lots of chuckles about Rush Limbaugh, the man who practically invented the “liberal media” slur.

Well, when I travel across the country, my amusement comes from Rush Limbaugh’s show. I find that that’s one of the funniest programs on the air. I don’t become offended by the idiotic things he says; I become amused by them.

It’s all been just a gigantic joke for years, ha ha, we think your employees are scum and should die, don’t you want to publish us, syndicate us, interview us on your shows? Don’t you want to call us in for meetings, listen to what we have to say? Don’t you want to welcome us to the table as legitimate voices, hire us, pay us for our learned commentary? Don’t you want to tell everyone you know, including the journalists who labor mightily and for little pay under your goddamn banner, that you are willing to give money to people who think their lives have no value at all?

At best, higher-ups in the press ignored people like this, saying things like this, thinking that polemicists and provocateurs like Limbaugh and Coulter were beneath the notice of decent people. Defending your reporters, your employees, and your role in society was looked upon as getting down in the muck with these cretins and that was not allowed.

Which left the cretins the only ones doing the talking.

At worst, and most commonly, people who hated the media were invited to use them regularly, broadcasting their hate and contempt to millions of viewers and listeners and readers in a thirst for ratings and clicks. When the crowd turns on the press pen and starts to shout, do you really think it’s a spur of the moment decision inspired by a guy like Donald Trump?

Or is it three decades of hearing angry, resentful rants about the “liberal media,” most delivered through that same so-called liberal media?

This isn’t me saying Katy Tur deserved to hear what she heard, or that that jackass up there should have been shouting about traitors. This isn’t me saying anybody was asking for it.

It’s me saying they’ve been giving it to you for years. As with so much about Trump that is credited to him alone, contempt for and hatred of the press is knit into the Republican right, muscle and bone, and it will take more than pushback against Trump to scorch it out. But if Trump’s what it took to get people to notice, good. This has been going on far too long, and I’ve seen far too many good people hurt by it.

It’s about time somebody fought back.


5 thoughts on “You Let Them Call You Traitor

  1. Preach. Somewhat to the chagrin of my superiors, I always told my reporters there was some shit that they were by no means obligated to eat — and that I would put my own job on the line for that principle because it wasn’t just about their safety or mine, it was about the entire fucking culture.

  2. Let us not forget Sarah “Lame-stream Media” Palin, an actual GOP VPcandidate promoted by many media folk, including the contemptible Bill Kristol.

  3. That guy was way older than 65 – in his late 70s.

    Amen to this article – is there anyone more clueless than the press and what their role is supposed to be?

  4. Thanks for the reminder about all the instances calling for journalists and liberals deaths, including those from Melanie Morgan. I would like your readers to know that Morgan and her co-host Lee Rodgers didn’t walk away without consequences. Their comments also disgusted me, so I and some other bloggers decided to alert their sponsors of their violent rhetoric. The advertisers were appalled and pulled their ads from the show and in some cases the entire station. The lost of advertisers’ revenue hit KSFO so hard they didn’t renew Morgan’s contract. For me this was a bigger win than her getting fired for what she said, because it hit the promoters of this kind of talk in the wallet, which they cared about most.

    Then they terminated Lee Rodgers contract 6 months early because his violent rhetoric and genocidal comments. They cost the station too much advertiser revenue and he wouldn’t back down.

    To see the rise of this same kind of comments passed off as a joke again is…”troubling” as they like to say. It actually pisses me off. Because people don’t want to talk it seriously. Because if it is serious, what does that say about people?

    While the media can write these things and try to find their false equivalency, and the comedians can make fun out if it because otherwise they would despair. Activists can do something too.

    People can say what they want, but that doesn’t mean they have to get rich saying them. They founders knew that their could be consequences for free speech that weren’t always positive.

Comments are closed.