For several years now, we’ve seen a corrosive concoction of hyperbole and vitriol injected into our national discourse. In the early days of this reckless trend, the invective was often brushed off as little more than seemingly aimless rabblerousing. However, as the weeks turned into months, it became readily apparent that one sector of American society had been selected to absorb the brunt of the budding partisan ferocity.
Even predating the launch of his candidacy, President Trump and his supporters have waged a vicious verbal campaign to discredit the vast bulk of our nation’s media. Time and again, the public has been treated to what can only be described as the dawn of a new reality. In this veritable “Bizarro World,” near implicit due diligence-hampering directives are frighteningly handed down by the upper echelons of our nation’s power structure.
The message being shouted from the rafters is a particularly insidious one, a message which posits that justified criticism is always rooted in nefarious motives, and that truth is subjective by nature. Notoriously biased “news” organizations of almost universal disrepute have apparently been quite successful in their attempts to curry the favor of those they apologize for, and there lies the abrasive rub, the blatant and undeniably toxic hypocrisy.
To an extent, we can put aside the ridiculously hollow positive light these outlets shine on even the most detestable actions of the current administration. We can cope with a president embracing juvenile behavior that we wouldn’t tolerate from a 7-year-old, and the shameful attempts by his de-facto public relations arm to excuse such childishness, even if it is profoundly embarrassing. We can even wrap our collective minds around reports that one of the aforementioned media outlets may have buried an unflattering story of the president’s personal life, as Newsweek noted.
However, what we cannot overlook, and absolutely must not excuse, is the inherently dangerous bandying of terms such as “fake news,” or the abominable labeling of America’s free press—a time-tested bastion of liberty—as an “enemy of the people.” To consistently, much less intentionally, undermine the press and dehumanize its constituent members is not merely deplorable, but is the conduct of the morally-bankrupt and patently irresponsible.
Just yesterday, The Hill reported that a man had been arrested after making numerous violent threats against CNN. According to the report, the suspect contacted a CNN operator and said that he was traveling to Georgia and that “your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours.” In his horrifically-detailed threats, the suspect also stated “fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down.”
This is the inevitably twisted conclusion of the tirelessly-aired sentiments of a president and his supporters. While the president and his vocal supporters may not have phoned in the threat, their vile rhetoric has demonstrably done well to light an incalculable number of fuses in those possessing unstable minds.
As children, we’re taught that actions have consequences, that we’re responsible for each and every word that exits our mouths. Public personalities, including the president, are not exempted from these basic rules of responsibility.