Our opinion: How long is the fuse on Trump's powder keg
If you want a taste of what it will be like for the media to cover a Donald Trump administration, just ask GQ's Julia Ioffe, who has been receiving death threats and anti-Semitic insults since an article she wrote on Melania Trump, The Donald's wife, appeared a few days ago.
It's no secret that Trump holds the media in contempt and has publicly sneered at it during his versammlungs, much to the delight of his minestranten with their salutes of allegiance. In late February, Trump said, that if he wins the election news organizations that have criticized him will "have problems," specifically citing The New York Times and The Washington Post. He would also like to see the libel law "opened up" to go after media outlets that write purposely negative and horrible and false articles ..."
His minacity is familiar to people around the world who dare not impugn royal figures or joke about the authorities lest they find themselves betwixt a stone and a very hard place, indeed.
"Trump gets offended, he gets upset and he wants to sue to retaliate. That's not a good reason to sue someone," said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Currently, libel law makes it difficult for public figures to sue reporters or other people who criticize them. "To win such a case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that factually incorrect statements were made with actual malice or a reckless disregard for the truth," noted the Associated Press' Jeff Horwitz. And the Supreme Court has repeatedly endorsed this legal standard, so it's doubtful if Trump could change that by executive order or an act of Congress.
But the subtleties of the U.S. Constitution are not in The Donald's wheelhouse. He prefers thunderous generalities and inflammatory bromides that rile up his disenfranchised adulators. But if Trump can't rely on a Constitutional Convention to revamp the Bill of Rights, he can always depend on the rabidity of his blame-everyone-else flag wavers (or "Flying Monkey Brigade," as Wonkette describes them) to go after his critics.
Ioffe is learning this lesson after Melania Trump expressed her dissatisfaction over the profile article published by GQ.
"This is not a heavily critical article," Ioffe told The Guardian. "There is nothing in it that is untrue. If this is how Trump supporters swing into action, what happens when the press looks into corrupt dealings, for example, or is critical of his policies?"
Since the article was published, Ioffe has been the recipient of anti-Semitic images, phone calls with recordings of Hitler speeches and death camp jokes.
"I started the day off having a sense of humor about it but by the end of the day, after a few phone calls like this, with people playing Hitler speeches, and the imagery, and people telling me my face would look good on a lampshade, it's hard to laugh," she told The Guardian.
As Wonkette noted, "Ioffe knows a thing or two about organized anti-Semitism, having immigrated from Russia as a child and majored in Soviet history at Princeton. When she returned as a journalist to work in Moscow for three years, she also saw what charming intimidation a quasi-totalitarian regime can hand to journalists, like seeing 'colleagues receive bouquets of funeral flowers at work,' not to mention the occasional murder of journalists — another Donald Trump laugh line. Like some kind of simpleton, she never thought that sort of thing would happen here in the Land Of The Free"
Donald Trump has deflected criticism of his comments that spur his followers to mouth hate-filled rhetoric or lash out at protestors either on the street or at his rallies. "I have no control over the people," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I don't know that I can calm them down. I can certainly try, but they're very angry people. They've been misled by politicians for years, and they're tired of it, and that's why I'm doing so well, and that's why I'm leading."
Yes, we have been misled for years. But anyone who claims to want to be president shouldn't fan the flames of disaffection as Trump is doing. His hyperbole could lead his acolytes down a path of shattered glass. The world has traversed those bloody corridors in the past. It's only a matter of time before Trump's heated words are turned into deadly actions by one or more of his deranged devotees. Just the thought of a Trump administration should strike fear in the heart of rational human beings. Beware.
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