Shame. Trump ‘wrestling CNN to the ground’ tweet is a call for more attacks on press

The tragicomedy of the POTUS’ tweets and the White House asking for ‘patriotism’ from the media have eerie parallels with India.

 |  8-minute read |   03-07-2017
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The President of the United States, Donald J Trump, has “wrestled the CNN to the ground”. And won. At least according to this tweet by @RealDonaldTrump, his “personal account” with more than 33 million followers, the battle between the POTUS and the Cable News Network has never been more harshly put forward.

Trump called CNN “Fraud News” and went about bashing it in a series of tweets, saying things like it’s “modern-day presidential” to tweet the way he does.

Let’s just say that this is “unpresidented”, but hardly unexpected, given Trump’s history of tweeting at 3am and accusing the American press of being “fake news”. He kept up the show on July 2 night as well as he showered the press with adjectives like “dishonest”, “fake media”, etc.

The latest barrage of tweets emanates from Trump taking potshots at a couple of TV anchors – Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski – who had criticised the POTUS for his constant misdemeanors.

Though it’s no longer surprising, the impunity with which Donald Trump keeps spewing rubbish on social media is of a different league altogether, to the extent that he defends it by calling it “modern-day presidential”. However, most of these rabid attacks against establishment media and newspapers older than himself stem from a deep-seated insecurity about his own place and showmanship in the American theatre of politics.

The wrestling CNN to the ground video – portraying Trump pinning to the ground a figure with a CNN logo for the head – seems to be an edited clip from an old appearance by Trump on WrestleMania, an annual professional wrestling event. The clip ends with CNN logo changing into “FNN: Fraud News Network”.

Not only that, there have been repeated attempts from the current White House administration to demand a more friendly and “patriotic” coverage of POTUS Trump and his regime. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior adviser, has said she’d like to see a more “productive and patriotic” press. 

Not only that, both White House press secretary Sean Spicer and deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have defended Trump’s outrageous behaviour, plain lies and many more indiscretions with a straight, and often petulant face, admonishing reporters for doing their jobs.

Sanders, when accused of inflaming xenophobic passions by a reporter from a Washington DC-based newspaper, shot back: "I think if anything has been inflamed, it's been the dishonesty that has taken place in the news media."

Similarly, Trump has continued to disparage CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times as “garbage journalism”, “fake news”, carrying on his attacks against free press. However, lawmakers in the US have blasted Trump’s “crude, false and unpresidential” CNN tweet. Many saw it as incitement to violence, a call for attack on the press, making that journey from online abuse to offline brutality against reporters themselves.

Trump has broken all limits of decency and has taken the office of the POTUS to unimagined depths of unruliness and disgusting abuse. He’s flanked by an army of official sycophants whose only job is to defend the president, no matter what be the case. The “covfefe” incident when Trump tweeted gibberish and it stayed on for the whole night because no one had the guts to wake the president up and correct it, was also telling.

There have been calls to suspend Trump’s Twitter account, with an American attorney and assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire, Seth Abramson, asking Twitter to do the same on grounds of “civil offences and violations of terms of service”.

There have been those who have “reported” Trump to Twitter, though the microblogging network doesn’t think Trump has violated its norms.

Moreover, a report by the news magazine Politico says that pro-Trump tweets are probably part of a “paid tweet” system, organised campaign with a lot of networking. It says:

“Hundreds or even thousands of these pro-Trump forums coalesced on Twitter during the presidential campaign, members said in interviews. Impossible to count or even find except by invitation from an administrator, the rooms vary in internal rules, structure and focus. They share the unified purpose of coordinating tweets, videos and memes in support of Trump and his platform.”

What’s happening in the US, of course, has eerie parallels with India, where press is under constant attack from those associated with the ruling regime. There have been CBI raids on promoters of a channel not toeing the government line, while journalists in Karnataka were sentenced to jail for two years for writing articles against MLAs.

Similarly, echoing Kellyanne Conway, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked journalists to “avoid unpleasant truths” in “national interest”, as if the two were separate. There’s been attempts by cabinet ministers to malign the sections of the press that are still maintaining the interrogatory spirit as “presstitutes”, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sings paeans for free and independent media. 

Internationally, there’s a growing clamour, driven by Saudi Arabia and not criticised by the American establishment, to shut down the renowned news channel Al Jazeera, because it’s funded by Qatar and is critical of the Middle Eastern emirates and monarchies. It seems what Trump has aced is really a global phenomenon, with Turkey cracking down on free press, Russia almost obliterating anti-establishment media, and India languishing at rank 136 in the World Press Freedom index, indicating a hostile environment.

But Trump, being the president of the world’s oldest democracy, is setting new lows as he tweets inanities of a raging lunatic and gets away with it. By showing himself assaulting a CNN-headed figure, he’s inciting violence against the free press, and is attacking the fourth estate itself. It’s obvious that Trump is completely oblivious to the massive implications of his rogue tweet, or, perhaps he thinks this is the way to be “presidential” in the current-day America.

Either way, it’s a serious misfortune and sad times for the United States of America.

Also read: Modi's reprimand to gau rakshaks in the name of Gandhi is as clichéd as Gandhi


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