If ever the United States of America needed a fourth estate, it’s now. The man-child in the president’s seat is completely out of control even by his own standards. Given his history of vendettas against those who oppose him, it would be easy — understandable, even — for the press to just hunker down and wait four years for all this to be over.
It’s to their enormous credit that they are not doing that. The most respected newspapers and magazines in America are writing boldly and uncompromisingly about the man who every day brings the presidency into disrepute.
Here’s a brief selection:
The New York Times plainly states that Trump is a fluent, habitual liar who knows nothing else:
Trump does not simply have “a running war with the media,” as he so indecorously and disrespectfully spouted off while standing on the hallowed ground before the C.I.A. Memorial Wall. He is in fact having a running war with the truth itself.
Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.
Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.
The Washington Post explores the source of Trump’s public announcements:
Over the past 12 or so hours, President Trump has made two major policy pronouncements via Twitter. On Tuesday night, he said he may “send the Feds!” to combat the “carnage” in Chicago, and on Wednesday morning, he said he planned to launch a “major investigation” of voter fraud.
Both of these things can pretty easily be traced back to one source: Trump’s television.
The Boston Globe describes how extreme narcissism is at the root of everything Trump does:
Every day of his presidency so far provides yet more evidence of Trump’s acute narcissism; of his inability to control his impulses, husband his anger, or feel genuine empathy for others. After a campaign full of lies, exaggeration, and boastful proclamations, he is acting the same as president. Even after reaching the pinnacle of political power, Trump seemingly cannot tolerate any person who questions his achievements. His response to criticism or to any statement that dents his ego and self-conception of himself is the same as it was during the more than 18 months he ran for president: rage, anger, and a scorched-earth response.
While Trump’s initial temper tantrums have been over the pettiest and most trivial imaginable stories, imagine what his response will be when the stakes really matter.
The New Yorker on the sudden relevance of George Orwell’s 1984 (which is very well worth reading in its entirety):
An unbidden apology rises to the lips, as Orwell’s book duly climbs high in the Amazon rankings: it was far better and smarter than good times past allowed us to think. What it took, of course, to change this view was the Presidency of Donald Trump. Because the single most striking thing about his matchlessly strange first week is how primitive, atavistic, and uncomplicatedly brutal Trump’s brand of authoritarianism is turning out to be. We have to go back to “1984” because, in effect, we have to go back to 1948 to get the flavor.
There is nothing subtle about Trump’s behavior. He lies, he repeats the lie, and his listeners either cower in fear, stammer in disbelief, or try to see how they can turn the lie to their own benefit. Every continental wiseguy, from Žižek to Baudrillard, insisted that when they pulled the full totalitarian wool over our eyes next time, we wouldn’t even know it was happening. Not a bit of it. Trump’s lies, and his urge to tell them, are pure Big Brother crude, however oafish their articulation. They are not postmodern traps and temptations; they are primitive schoolyard taunts and threats.
The point is not that these things are being written: it was inevitable that there would be people writing such things about such a president. The point is that that they are being written by the respected end of the mainstream press. It’s as though the Telegraph, Guardian, Independent and Spectator were writing these things in Britain.
America needs this. Thank you, journalists, for doing your job. Keep it up!