During his Wednesday press conference, President-elect Trump attacked both BuzzFeed and CNN, refusing to answer a question from the latter.
While taking questions from the press, Trump didn’t mince words about BuzzFeed, which, on Tuesday, published a 35-page dossier of unverified intelligence memos about Russia and Trump in its entirety, uncensored. One part of that memo included a paragraph alleging that in 2013, Russian intelligence operatives surreptitiously recorded video of the President-elect paying Russian sex workers to urinate in front of him at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.
CNN reported on the two-page synopsis of that memo — which John McCain recently admitted he gave to FBI director James Comey — which was shown to President-elect Trump during an intelligence briefing. In addition to slamming BuzzFeed as a “failing pile of garbage” that would “suffer the consequences,” Trump refused to answer a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, calling CNN “fake news.” When Acosta insisted that Trump allow CNN to have a question answered since Trump attacked their reporting, Trump simply responded by saying, “Don’t be rude,” and “Quiet, quiet.”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 11, 2017
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) January 11, 2017
The press conference was largely rambling and disorganized, with the President-elect referring to himself in the third person twice in just 30 seconds:
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) January 11, 2017
Journalists and political commentators observed on Twitter that the President-elect’s treatment of critical journalists is not unlike how some of history’s most notorious dictators treated news outlets that provided oppositional coverage. Journalists also remarked that Trump blatantly disregarded the strict provisions in the Constitution that prevent presidents and elected officials from making decisions that would result in their own enrichment:
"You are fake news!" says the guy who spent 8 years birthering Obama, and said Ted Cruz's father helped kill JFK….. #TrumpPressConference
— Josh Mallon (@jmallon199) January 11, 2017
The guy who started the birther campaign against Obama just called CNN fake news. Let that sink in. #TrumpPressConference
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) January 11, 2017
This is the beginning. All real news is about to become fake. This is straight out of the Authoritarian playbook. #TrumpPressConference
— Laura Miers (@LauraMiers) January 11, 2017
Trump just threatened BuzzFeed. Actually this is how Nazi Germany started. #TrumpPressConference
— imfabulous (@imfabulous13) January 11, 2017
Trump just refused to answer questions from a CNN reporter. Because he doesn't like their coverage of him.#TrumpPressConference
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) January 11, 2017
Trump insists that the press are 'fake news' at his own press conference. This is very very bad indeed. #TrumpPressConference
— Laurie Penny (@PennyRed) January 11, 2017
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) January 11, 2017
It isn’t hyperbolic to compare Trump’s treatment of the media to Hitler’s treatment of the press in the prelude to Germany’s Third Reich. As the Washington Post reported, the term “Lügenpresse,” which translates to “lying press,” was a slur popularized by Nazi supporters during Hitler’s reign, and encouraged by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s director of propaganda. Hitler’s treatment of the press resulted in physical attacks against journalists:
The verbal attacks against journalists soon turned into physical violence in Germany. At times, media members were unable to cover the Pegida-organized protest marches without private security personnel. Some reporters who risked going in without bodyguards were beaten up. It is without doubt that the word “Lügenpresse” has an extremely ugly meaning in modern-day Germany.
The term “Lügenpresse” remained in relative obscurity until Trump’s supporters began using it to describe reporters covering his rallies. The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray captured video of two Trump supporters haranguing members of the media as “Lügenpresse” outside the press pen during the campaign:
Friendly interaction outside the press pen. "Lugenpresse!" pic.twitter.com/MWUZynJ8jx
— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) October 23, 2016
During the campaign, Trump banned Washington Post reporters from obtaining press passes to his events between June and September, citing their critical coverage of him. It remains unclear whether or not CNN or BuzzFeed will be allowed into White House press conferences during the Trump administration, particularly since Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said that the President-elect won’t follow traditional media rules during his administration.
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook.