Disgraced Congressman Newt Gingrich has enjoyed an unlikely comeback through doglike loyalty to Donald Trump and the return to relevance is bringing out his most dictatorial instincts.
Appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show last night, Gingrich said that Trump should “shrink and isolate” CNN in order to “close down the elite press.”
Gingrich was inspired by Trump’s angry exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday. After dismissing the cable channel that invented for-profit news as “fake news,” Trump called on a Breitbart reporter for a softball.
Meanwhile, the table next to Trump was covered in blank file folders containing blank pages — a prop meant to show how much ‘work’ had gone into his nonexistent divestment plan to deal with conflicts of interest — while a crowd of staffers was on hand to jeer the press like one of his rally crowds.
Now Gingrich wants the reality TV star-turned-president-elect to ban Acosta for two months “as a signal, frankly, to all the other reporters that there are going to be real limits” on their ability to ask hard-hitting questions about such fakery.
Expressing his anger over questions about a private intelligence dossier that claims the new president has been compromised by Russian intelligence, he also advises Trump press secretary Sean Spicer to let local reporters fly in from all around the country for future press conferences, avowing that they will be “a lot more courteous” and “responsible” than the “adversarial” reporters for major publications.
You don’t have to think of The New York Times or CNN or any of these people as news organizations,” Gingrich opined. “They’re mostly propaganda organizations. And they’re going to be after Trump every single day of his presidency.
Trump and Spicer “simply need to go out there and understand they have it in their power to set the terms of this dialogue,” he continued. “They can close down the elite press.”
If that sounds ominously like a certain Russian dictatorship to you, it’s because this is exactly how Vladimir Putin operates.
At his press conference, Trump succeeded in dividing the press against itself by singling out BuzzFeed as a “failing pile of garbage” for daring to publish the controversial dossier. Will Oremus explains at Slate that Trump “exploited weaknesses—not just the tendency of the press to eat itself, but also its own status anxieties.”
“In particular, he exploited traditional media outlets’ intense desire to be perceived as sober and objective, and thus to be respected by conservatives and liberals alike—a business imperative that has been transmuted into an ethical injunction,” Oremus writes.
Indeed, Trump is already exploiting the competitive nature of media organizations to affect his coverage. Conservative commentator S.E. Cupp says they should display more camaraderie:
If Trump bans a news organization from a press conference or refuses to take questions from an outlet that has accurately covered him, every other outlet should walk out or refuse to give him airtime or print space.
If he thinks he can silence the press, strong-arm journalists into printing only favorable reports or replace the press with tweets, every outlet should protest, not only the ones he is punishing.
But, this is asking news organizations to do something that simply does not come naturally to them, and Gingrich’s remarks show that there are still many other ways to browbeat journalists into submission.
Having failed to hold Donald Trump accountable during the election, the press now seems very vulnerable to these tactics and shows no sign of adapting to the new reality. It’s going to be a long four years, and democracy may not survive them.
Watch Gingrich forget about the First Amendment, here:Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Republican Dirty Tricks