Sunday, July 29, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got fake-mad at the free press, and then he got really mad at the free press.

Several weeks ago, New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger met with Trump in the White House for an off-the-record discussion. This morning, Trump revealed the existence of that conversation when he tweeted about it, saying that the two had "[s]pent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, 'Enemy of the People.'"

Speaking to the press off the record works both ways, so Sulzberger responded with a brief statement. He said that he had agreed to talk to Trump so that he could "raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric," which he found "not just divisive but increasingly dangerous." Sulzberger pointed out that Trump's language was being mimicked by dictators, and that Trump's hostility to the free American press is being used in authoritarian regimes to justify killing journalists.

Trump, whose public schedule was once again empty except for shuttling between the White House and his New Jersey golf club, responded to Sulzberger's statement with an enraged four-tweet blast. He said that "insane" journalists were putting people's lives at risk, not the other way around--though he didn't say how. He called the free American press "very unpatriotic" and said that he "would not allow" the country to be "sold out" by the newspaper press. 

Why is this bad?

  • A president who is given criticism in private and hears only agreement is probably not mentally healthy enough for the job.
  • A president who is given criticism in public and reacts with rage is definitely not mentally healthy enough for the job.
  • The truth is not whatever is most convenient for Donald Trump.