Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

This evening, Trump announced his intention (at least for now) to refuse to show up for debates in the 2020 campaign.

Of course, Trump doesn't have to do debates if he doesn't want to—or if he's afraid to—or if he simply doesn't plan to abide by any election result where he doesn't win

But speaking of "Fake News," Trump's tweet doesn't give the reason why the DNC decided not to let Fox News host a primary debate: the revelation this week that, just before the 2016 election, the network had refused to run one of its own employees' reporting on Trump. That fall, reporter Diana Falzone wrote a multiply-sourced story complete with photographic evidence about Trump's sexual affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, which wasn't widely known at the time. The story was spiked and Falzone was told it was because Fox News CEO "Rupert [Murdoch] wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.”

Trump also benefited from a similar "catch and kill" tactic employed by the National Enquirer, which at one point owned a physical safe in which its owner, David Pecker, locked away information that would be damaging to Trump. (Pecker, who is implicated in an attempt to blackmail Amazon owner and Trump enemy Jeff Bezos, is now cooperating with federal prosecutors' investigations into Trump and his associates.)

Who cares?

  • Corrupting the free press—or delegitimizing it where corruption doesn't work—is what authoritarians do.
  • It's bad if presidents try to hide from public scrutiny.
  • Some of the people who voted for Trump might not have if they'd been allowed to know about the scandals that other people covered up for him.