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: 895229

Reported Deaths: 9462
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1749772017
Ramsey722701040
Dakota66032572
Anoka62513568
Washington39357355
Stearns32821275
St. Louis28761399
Wright25354211
Scott25329181
Olmsted21750127
Sherburne18478126
Carver1629166
Clay11923103
Blue Earth1126366
Rice11234138
Crow Wing11003122
Chisago974676
Kandiyohi9660106
Otter Tail9611126
Benton8815124
Beltrami801794
Goodhue786596
Douglas7689100
Itasca752796
Mower721349
Winona702756
McLeod694483
Isanti681383
Steele669431
Morrison663479
Becker620873
Polk591684
Freeborn550846
Carlton529474
Nobles521654
Lyon518761
Mille Lacs516573
Nicollet510960
Pine500641
Cass491252
Todd483642
Brown465057
Le Sueur445933
Meeker422357
Martin378143
Wabasha366010
Waseca365132
Dodge351511
Hubbard349848
Roseau307931
Fillmore299115
Wadena298239
Redwood277845
Houston266817
Renville264151
Faribault253032
Pennington247529
Sibley246917
Kanabec241536
Cottonwood225032
Chippewa216342
Aitkin215850
Pope203210
Watonwan194920
Yellow Medicine185423
Rock174728
Swift169322
Koochiching168123
Stevens164511
Jackson159216
Clearwater155720
Marshall151122
Murray150911
Pipestone148329
Lake129824
Lac qui Parle120025
Wilkin119416
Mahnomen104714
Norman10389
Grant9719
Big Stone9365
Lincoln8705
Kittson71523
Red Lake70710
Traverse5996
Unassigned572124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3020

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
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