Jeff Flake’s And John McCain’s Feeble Defense Of Fake News
GOP senators Jeff Flake and John McCain aren’t happy that President Donald Trump is challenging the liberal media over its repeated lies about his administration. According to the senators, even though stunningly biased press outlets are constantly spreading anti-Trump and anti-Republican propaganda when it comes to tax reform, illegal immigration, the president’s sanity, etc., Trump should curl up in the fetal position and simply take his punishment while liberal spin masters work him over. This suggestion is laughable and suggests Flake and McCain may be auditioning for a buddy movie called “Dumb and Dumber Part 3.”
Flake, who has announced that he won’t run for reelection (a wise move since Arizona voters don’t respect or even like him), has compared President Trump to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin because the president has had the audacity to challenge the press when it’s dishonest. Not to be outdone, McCain accuses the commander in chief of undermining democracy by calling out people in the media who spread lies to smear the White House. “Trump’s attempts to undermine the free press . . . make it more difficult to hold repressive governments accountable,” the failed 2008 presidential candidate editorialized. “For decades, dissidents and human rights advocates have relied on independent investigations into government corruption to further their fight for freedom. But constant cries of ‘fake news’ undercut this type of reporting and strip activists of one of their most powerful tools of dissent.”
Flake’s and McCain’s outrageous defense of fake news would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so significant. There is a world of difference between Trump’s criticism of the press for deceptive coverage — a right we all have under the First Amendment — and dictators censoring the press or even jailing and killing media critics like Stalin did. For Flake and McCain to compare the two is a false equivalence that insults the intelligence of the American public.
Moreover, they fail to understand that it is precisely because of the significant role that a free press has in a democracy — and because of the media’s tremendous power to shape public opinion — that President Trump should be applauded for calling out the elites who control the media when they lie and shamelessly provide misleading information to the public. The genius of the American system is that it relies on accountability and checks and balances — no one person or institution should be so powerful that it can impose its own views and will on free citizens. When Trump and others call out the mainstream media for spreading “fake news” they are simply exercising much-needed checks and balances on a very powerful institution. Challenging media hegemony doesn’t undermine our democracy. It strengthens it.
Significantly, because liberals have monopolized control over most branches of the media (e.g., NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, the Washington Post, The New York Times, etc.), these left-leaning organizations have the power to stigmatize any views they disagree with and to destroy the careers of any individuals who they don’t like. Consider, for example, the fate of fired Google programmer James Damore, who was pilloried in the media — and accused by some liberals of being a Nazi — after daring to acknowledge that there are studies which suggest gender and biology may play a role in explaining the career paths and choices of men and women.
As Damore’s situation proved, ordinary Americans have little recourse in the face of the media’s tremendous power: It’s like David without a slingshot versus Goliath. By contrast, the president is one of only a handful of individuals with the power and the resources to go toe to toe with media outlets when they distorts the truth. So when Trump stands up against fake news, he’s not just representing himself, he is also sticking up for average Americans who liberal elites in politics and in the media like to disparage as “deplorables” and as simpletons who “get bitter, [and] cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Someone should remind Flake and McCain that the Americans voted for Trump were sending a message not only that we are tired of being shafted by globalist elites who happily send our jobs overseas and favor illegal aliens as cheap labor at the expense of American workers. We were also signaling that we are tired of being lied to by news sources who provide propaganda for progressivism and globalism as a worldview and who think that if we don’t share their views, we are inferior and less enlightened than they are. We patriots understand that Trump’s not the enemy of democracy—a biased and unaccountable media is. The fact that Flake and McCain can’t see that explains why these Arizona pols — unlike Trump — have no chance of making America great again.
Nick James is the nom de plume of a trial attorney in the D.C. area who formerly worked for the United States Department of Justice as an award-winning federal prosecutor.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.