Sen. Jeff Flake unfortunately managed to receive positive press once again through moral grandstanding.
In a speech delivered to a nearly empty Senate Wednesday, the Arizona Republican issued a diatribe against President Trump for his treatment of the press.
“I don’t make comparisons between Trump and Stalin,” Flake said, right before comparing Trump to the infamous Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. “I’m just saying an American president shouldn’t be using that language because it is so fraught with malice… Our president shouldn’t be using ‘enemy of the people.’ It leads to a type of relationship with the press that has led to this fake news charge that is now picked up by authoritarians globally.”
He added that Trump is to blame for journalists who were imprisoned and killed around the world in 2017. “They’re now using fake news as justification for jailing journalists, 262 jailed just this past year. That’s a record,” the senator argued. (RELATED: Jeff Flake Blames Trump For Journalists Being Jailed Abroad)
Similar to his “historical” resignation speech that was promptly forgotten a few days after it was delivered, Flake received fawning praise from the press corps and liberals for upholding the nobility of journalists.
However, the Arizona senator probably picked the worst day to give a speech depicting the media as heroic resisters of tyranny. Just the day before, numerous prominent journalists had given air to wacky conspiracy theories concerning Trump’s medical exam.
On Tuesday, well-respected White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson held a lengthy press conference on the president’s clean bill of health. Dr. Jackson had to field many ridiculous questions from journalists during his lengthy time holding court at the White House press briefing room.
He had to shoot down a question if the president was a drug addict because of his medication. CNN’s Jim Acosta demanded to know if the White House was hiding anything from its very thorough medical report. Another reporter wanted to know if Trump slurring his words might have some medical cause, while said reporter slurred her own question on the matter. (RELATED: White House Press Corps Treated Results Of Trump’s Medical Exam Like Results Of The Election)
Dr. Jackson was patient and in good spirit during the whole affair, and it looked like he might have buried all questions about Trump’s mental and physical health after the press conference.
That wasn’t the case as the media immediately started promoted ridiculous speculation about Trump’s health following the press conference. Many doubted that Trump was in fact 239 lbs and one NBC reporter demanded the president step on a scale for all the world to see. New York Times star reporter Maggie Haberman believed Trump’s height given in the medical exam was off by one inch, and thus the whole thing must be treated with skepticism. (RELATED: Journos Unable To Accept Results Of Trump’s Physical Exam)
CNN’s Brian Stelter, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin and numerous other commentators disputed the results of Trump’s perfect cognitive test and insisted he was still mentally unfit to hold office. CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta asserted Trump had heart disease, even though the president’s own physician ruled that out and the president’s heart condition, according to his exam, is better than most men his age. (RELATED: What CNN Didnt Tell You About Trump’s Heart Health)
Flake’s image of journalists as brave defenders of the truth looks delusional when faced with the dozens of “Girthers” who challenged the expertise of one of the most respected doctors in the country because his findings upset their narrative.
Trump and his supporters who loathe the media enjoyed validation of that belief in the wake of all this media silliness, and the conspiracy theories served as a nice prelude to the “Fake News Awards” presented on Wednesday night.
The president’s awards showed genuine cases of bad journalism on the part of America’s most influential outlets, yet the light-hearted event was still treated as a sign of encroaching totalitarianism by very serious journalists.
Even worse than Flake’s Stalin comparison is the declarations of respected international organizations that deem America a hellhole for journalists because of Trump’s mean tweets. While dozens of countries actually imprison and murder reporters, the Committee to Protect Journalists called Trump the most oppressive leader towards press freedom because he wants to revise libel laws.
Freedom House, a group funded by the U.S. government, downgraded America on its freedom index primarily because of Trump’s mean comments about the press.
Flake’s eye-rolling speech fits the larger pattern of the global elite viewing Trump as a semi-fascist dictator, even though he has trouble passing his agenda through Congress and many of his legally-sound executive orders are blocked by the court system. The current president is hardly a dictator, and his mean comments to journalists are not backed up by real threats of censorship and arrest.
That’s very much unlike Turkey, China and several other countries where a free press is either threatened or non-existent. Additionally, free speech still does not land one in jail in America — the same can’t be said in Europe where political dissidents are frequently charged under “hate speech” laws.
But, surprisingly enough, all the histrionics about Trump actually help him. The Donald has built his political career on having a ridiculous foil to his populist image. In the GOP primary, he had Jeb Bush. In the general election, he had Hillary Clinton.
Now he has the media.
Trump would have probably not won the Republican nomination if he hadn’t made Jeb his punching bag early on in the race. He would not have been president if he wasn’t differentiating himself from Crooked Hillary.
As president, he has the media as his perfect opponent, constantly baiting them into ridiculous reactions to the amusement of his supporters. The media does itself no service by always taking Trump’s bait — such as his medical exam — and beclowning themselves in the process.
No one is moved by proclamations that the White House is a threat to press freedom when journalists are using that very same freedom — which is not being hindered in any way — to demand the president publicly step on a weight scale.
Trump always has the best enemies, and he knows a critical part to his appeal. Thankfully for him, CNN is blissfully unaware of that.