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Massive, relentless attacks on the U.S. media; a precursor to a totalitarian...

Massive, relentless attacks on the U.S. media; a precursor to a totalitarian state?

The big question then is; what kind of a president with what kind of characteristics would be needed to take this country in that dangerous direction?

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One of the key steps in creating a totalitarian state: attacking, silencing the media.

Could these relentless attacks by the Trump administration on the media be a sign that this government could be heading down a road leading to a totalitarian state?

Perhaps we can draw some conclusions by reviewing history to see what happened in other countries in past decades when its national media came under attack by its highly aggressive, controlling government and was muzzled and silenced.

Here are some of the most notable totalitarian governments of the past; note that several of these countries could still be so classified: 

  • Soviet Russia under Stalin
  • Nazi Germany and Hitler
  • Italy under Mussolini
  • North Korea under various dictators from the same family
  • China under Mao Zedong 

All of these countries had governments that evolved into either fascist or totalitarian states. One of the first things that they did when moving down that path was to keep the people from knowing exactly what was going on, so that there was little to no chance that they would rise up and revolt against the formation of this kind of a controlling government.

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As history tells us, these kinds of tactics by these governments proved to be very successful. The means of communication by those who were responsible for reporting what was going on in their country and government was shut down; some people had an idea of what might be going on but the masses knew little to nothing. And we all know what followed thereafter. 

It’s hard to imagine something like that actually happening in America where we have this strong belief in free speech, where we have the right of dissension, and where the media can, at least so far, speak out against government abuses and misguided government policies and actions without interference or censorship. Well, it’s happened many times before and it can most certainly happen anywhere in the world.

Are there any signs that this could ever take place in our country?  

 Donald Trump and his advisers are trying very hard to figure out how to create laws by which they could take the various elements of the media to court when they strongly criticize something this government does. However, that is virtually impossible since experts on such issues are saying it will take a Constitutional Amendment. What is very troubling is that this is a clear sign of this administration’s obvious desire to censor or even punish those who dare to criticize government actions. 

Speaking of the media, communications and freedom of speech, remember the Soviet news organization that was called Pravda? 

Pravda became an official arm of the Soviet Communist Party. It became the means for announcing official policy. It was mandatory for state-run companies, the armed services and other organizations to subscribe to it.   

Trump would get along beautifully with a news organization like Pravda whereby it would be his mouthpiece and never, ever assume the role of a journalistic watchdog.

Now let’s discuss the increasing attacks, the very derogatory and troubling comments that Mr. Trump has and continues to make on the mainstream media to illustrate how he wants to muzzle it:  

Trump: “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, right?”

He has said on many occasions that the media is the “enemy of the people.”

He stated, “I’m going to open up our libel laws to combat purposely negative and horrible and false articles.” 

“They’re scum. They’re horrible people. They are so illegitimate.” 

“I do hate them. And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.” 

He, in a fit of anger, said that he just might sue Rolling Stone and Huffington Post to “Put them out of business!”

His campaign attacked CNN’s management “for peddling fake news and not reporting on the fact that President Trump is making America great again.”

During his campaign he banned certain members of the media from attending events where he was speaking; and is still doing it whenever someone really ticks him off. 

He issued a threat of retribution against Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post. Retribution, as defined, includes some form of severe punishment.

We know that many U.S. presidents have had contentious relationships with the media and have lashed out and struck back at its members when they felt that the media went over the top in reporting. But which of them ever went so far as to declare a war against the entire profession? This kind of behavior and use of venomous language against the media is unprecedented in modern U.S. history. Presidents should be above that; he’s not.

Let’s talk about this media’s faults and shortcomings to determine why its approval ratings, currently about 32%, are so very low. Yes, there are those who make unproven accusations against Mr. Trump and his administration, as well as others who practice ways to put a negative spin on various situations. 

What I see as less than objective, meaningful journalism can be found in these two examples: first, let’s take the highly important issue involving the ongoing GOP debate on repealing Obamacare. What we see on many shows is the old worn out discussions in which there are three or four chosen participants on one side of the host and the same number on the other.

Typically, those on one side totally support the GOP plan and those on the other say that it will be a disaster. Nothing is ever resolved and we continue to see one show after another that tells us nothing of significance. The shows’ managements should initiate discussions involving highly qualified experts in various segments of the healthcare field that would explore this issue in depth and exchange ideas to try to come up with a really effective system for the American people.

The very same thing should be done on any number of important issues that need to be resolved such as plans to reform the tax code, immigration reform, the creation of jobs, or a program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. But this media continues to present these long winded, boring discussions instead of in-depth ones; and this is one of the main reasons why the American people are fed up with much of this kind of shallow, so-called journalism. 

After going over this media’s many shortcomings let’s also give credit where credit is due. Over the years, from the Watergate scandal to the Vietnam War, to many other important events, the media has done an excellent job in exposing government actions that were entirely unjustifiable. Many government officials and politicians who have done illegal or immoral things have been exposed and have been run out of the government. 

There are various elements of the media that are zealous watchdogs over what this government does. Some have paid a high price for refusing to back down from intimidation. They have been threatened with severe punishment if they continued to monitor and report on situations where the government was out of order. So let’s not totally condemn the media and call it all bad or incompetent when that is not the case.

So the message to the American people should be; you are right to disagree with many things that this media does and says and feel that it is highly faulted; but keep one thing in mind; The muzzling, the silencing of the media can’t be allowed to happen in America; if that ever does take place and this government is then free to do many things that are against the best interests of this country and its people then we all will be rapidly traveling down the road leading directly to totalitarianism.

So right now, even though there are ominous signs pointing to it, we have to conclude that we don’t really know what is going to happen in the future and if this country will end up with a totalitarian government. The big question then is; what kind of a president with what kind of characteristics would be needed to take this country in that dangerous direction?

Well, all we need do is to look at the individual who is currently occupying the Oval Office and then we just may have the answer to that question.




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Michael Payne
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.

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