After NBC News reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to Donald Trump as “a f-----g moron” in the presence of senior government officials, the president quickly labeled the story “fake news” declaring the news organization concocted it out of whole cloth.
When Tillerson was subsequently offered an opportunity to deny the NBC report, however, he didn’t.
I’ve figured out what President Trump means by “fake news.” These are factual reports Trump doesn’t agree with. This includes virtually every critical news story about the president and his administration presented since he took office.
Russian meddling in the 2016 election? Never happened. Inauguration crowd? Biggest ever in history. Don Junior’s meeting with Putin operatives? Adoption.
Trump, of course, is playing to his base, the 35 percent or so who blindly support him. Like The Donald, these folks are predisposed to hate credible national news media for doing their job. I have right-wing friends down here in Georgia who still insist the Bush administration was right about WMD in Iraq and that the news media conspired to hide “the facts.” Thus, when the president characterizes the Tillerson story as phony, this crowd reflexively agrees.
While Trump continues his attack on the legitimate press, he caters to the more compliant conservative media serving his most ardent fans.
As noted in MediaMatters for America, the president has granted interviews to Fox News 14 times and two with the Christian Broadcasting Network. CBS, NBC, ABC, and MSNBC have all done just one interview with Trump and CNN has not done an interview with the president since he took office, according to MMfA.
“The president has not done a one-on-one national TV interview with a non-conservative host in nearly five months, since he sat down with NBC’s Lester Holt on May 11. (That interview went poorly for the president.),” reported MMfA.
Trump can’t do real interviews because he’ll be forced to defend and justify his administration, just like past presidents had to do.
There will be pesky questions about Special Counsel Robert Muller’s Russia probe, or Trump’s decision to work with Democrats on saving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or why he wants to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal when his top advisors tell him to stay in.
Accountability to the voters? No, that’s not for Trump. His recent interview with CBN’s Mike Huckabee was an example of the sort of fawning interview he prefers.
“You were a rock star (in Puerto Rico), I saw the video of it,” gushed Huckabee, whose daughter Sarah is Trump’s press secretary.
“You have a lot of things out there on the horizon, including North Korea and Kim Jong Un -- or as you like to call him, Rocket Man, which I thought was a great moniker,” the “journalist” told Trump.
And how about this softball: “But in tax reform, this would be a rocket fuel for the economy. And we’ve already seen almost a tripling of the GDP just since the beginning of the year. That’s huge. How do reducing taxes and reforming taxes transfer into an economic boom?”
“Trump thanked Huckabee for the ‘support over the years’ at the end of the interview and added that the Republican host has ‘been so fantastic,’” MMfA noted.
What a detestable disservice to the American electorate. Rather than perform the role of professional skeptic, Huckabee and all the rest of these shills tell audiences only what they want to hear and not what they need to know. That’s “fake news.”
The price we pay for such willful ignorance is the man currently occupying the Oval Office. God help us.
Kevin Foley owns KEF Media Associates, Inc., an Atlanta-based producer and distributor of electronic publicity. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.