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Lemon: Trump's rallies not the reality

CNN's Don Lemon says President Donald Trump's rallies are much different than the real world.

Posted: Oct 21, 2018 10:48 PM
Updated: Oct 21, 2018 11:20 PM

For a man with too much to say about too many things, President Donald Trump has maintained atypical restraint in the 17 days since since the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul and was presumably murdered inside it by agents of the regime.

The president groundlessly asserted that "rogue killers" could have committed the crime. Then he retreated even farther to plead that the de facto Saudi dictator, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, should not be undeservedly suspected in the apparent assassination of a prominent political opponent.

All the president's evasiveness has set off speculation about what conflicted interests might explain it -- Trump's longtime business dealings with wealthy Saudis, his brokering a major arms deal with Riyadh for American defense contractors, bin Salman's importance to American efforts to isolate and confront Iran.

Valid as those theories seem, they omit one other obvious reason for President Trump's striking indifference to the likely slaying of a journalist who was, after all, a resident of the United States for the past several years and a regular columnist for the Washington Post. Quite simply, if a government indeed killed a bothersome journalist, then that action is just the logical, if ghastly, extension of Trump's campaign to vilify and endanger journalists in the United States.

During both his campaign and his White House reign, President Trump has referred to journalists as "disgusting," "crooked," "dangerous," and, most significantly, as "the enemy of the American people." That phrase, closely echoing Josef Stalin's, all but invites the Stalinist solution to such treason: perhaps the show trial, perhaps the Gulag cell, perhaps the executioner's bullet.

With his deviously brilliant demagoguery, President Trump has never explicitly called for the death of American journalists, but he has consistently incited the mobs at his rallies against working journalists, sometimes by name. In her memoir of covering the Trump campaign, "Unbelievable," Katy Tur of NBC recounts Trump pointing out her location to a hostile crowd at a Virginia rally.

"She's back there, little Katy," Tur writes in the book. "She's back there. What a lie it was."

Ostensibly, then-candidate Trump was complaining about a broadcast he considered inaccurate. But no sensate person could miss the mortal threat in his words. Indeed, Secret Service agents walked Tur back to her car after the rally to ensure her safety. At Trump speeches and rallies, journalists are penned in by metal barriers, making them easy prey for heckling and ridicule. Individual correspondents such as April Ryan of the Urban Radio Network, Geoff Bennett of NBC, and Tara Palmeri of ABC have either hired bodyguards at their own expense or received security from their news organization.

Thursday night ,Trump hailed Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte for having body-slammed a reporter -- a crime for which the politician was fined and punished -- during a special election in 2017.

While the fatal shooting last summer of five employees, including four journalists, on the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., had no known roots in Trump's rhetoric, other news organizations have received credible threats that do cite or evoke the presidential hatred.

There is nothing new about political leaders in the United States fuming against journalists for their critical coverage. During his presidency, Richard Nixon put several journalists on his so-called "enemies' list" and dispatched his vice-president, Spiro Agnew, to denounce the news media as "nattering nabobs of negativism."

Nor, sadly, is it unprecedented for an American journalist to be lethally attacked. Just to cite one especially notorious example, Don Bolles, an investigative reporter for the Arizona Republic, was assassinated with a car bomb in 1976.

But even at his most paranoid, Nixon never solicited violence against journalists. And the murder of Bolles, though never fully solved, is widely believed to have been committed by organized crime figures, the target of his reporting.

No, the Trump era has brought a new level of menace, intimidation, and treachery into the mainstream. The Committee to Protect Journalists, sensing the change during the 2016 campaign, began tracking threats and attacks against American journalists soon after Trump took office. Prior to then, the organization was understandably focused on the risks to journalists in unfree nations abroad.

In the old-fashioned world, meaning the one before the Trump presidency, Americans would be right to worry that his feeble response to Jamal Khashoggi's death would embolden autocratic governments or their complicit vigilantes around the world to take similarly brazen action against journalists. And, yes, we should worry about that.

In our upside-down present, however, the concern also holds right here at home, where the president in the MAGA hat defiles the First Amendment, and practitioners of a free press feel ever more the peril that ultimately swallowed up Jamal Khashoggi.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
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