New Republic - July 11, 2019
Donald Trump’s war against the media reached perhaps its weirdest point on Thursday afternoon when the president hosted a “social media summit” that excluded Facebook and Twitter, but included a number of right-wing conspiracy-mongers, provocateurs, and grifters. Defending the summit earlier in the day, he argued that he would be showcasing the future of media—and burying its past.
“A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets. “The Fake News is not as important, or as powerful, as Social Media. They have lost tremendous credibility since that day in November, 2016, that I came down the escalator with the person who was to become your future First Lady. When I ultimately leave office in six years, or maybe 10 or 14 (just kidding), they will quickly go out of business for lack of credibility, or approval, from the public…. Sorry to say that even Social Media would be driven out of business along with, and finally, the Fake News Media!”
Trump is not wholly wrong here: While Facebook, The New York Times, and CNN are not going to wilt as soon as he leaves office, Trump’s presidency has shown that social media can indeed be more powerful than the mainstream media. Trump’s ability to bend reality, 280 characters at a time, has been central to his political success. And his decision to host dozens of firebrands, including the QAnon-promoting Joy Villa and Bill Mitchell; James O’Keefe, the master of deceptively edited video; and Brent Bozell, who once told Sean Hannity to say Barack Obama looks like a “skinny ghetto crackhead,” is an acknowledgment of his increasing dependence on a fringe right-wing media ecosystem that consistently turns out and circulates hoaxes and conspiracy theories. It’s also suggestive of the president’s growing paranoia—and perhaps even dementia.
For much of his political career, Trump has cultivated a mutually beneficial relationship with Fox News. “Fox sycophancy dominates its prime-time hours, as Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity praise Dear Leader, and the morning shift, when the hosts of Fox & Friends supply him with ample supplication,” Jack Shafer wrote in 2017. “Trump completes this unvirtuous circle by tweeting back his approval. The ensuing feedback loop serves both the man and the network, making both seem larger than they really are.”
But that appears to be changing. Five days before Thursday’s low-rent summit, Trump took to Twitter to blast his most important ally in media, Fox News. “Watching Fox News weekend anchors is worse than watching low ratings Fake News CNN,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Fox News is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there!” Later reporting from the Associated Press revealed that Trump was particularly annoyed about a live broadcast from a bar where fans of the U.S. women’s national soccer team chanted “Fuck Trump,” and also that the network had cited a New York Times report about the horrific conditions that migrants were being held in at the southern border. ...
Read full report at New Republic