News Media Call Out Trump’s Dangerous Words

From The Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

It was supposed to simply be a speech honoring veterans, since it was Veterans Day. But, of course, when it comes to former President Donald Trump, nothing is ever simple. Or without controversy.

His speech turned to his opponents, and then to himself and the presidency. He told the crowd in New Hampshire, “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections. They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream.”

But this time, instead of simply restating what Trump said, news organizations called out just how disturbing Trump’s words were.

Appearing on “CNN This Morning,” former CNN host Brian Stelter said, “That’s a horrifying clip. That’s a fascist clip. … That is shocking and the kind of thing we can never get numb to.”

The New Republic’s Michael Tomasky wrote, “This is straight-up Nazi talk, in a way he’s never done quite before. To announce that the real enemy is domestic and then to speak of that enemy in subhuman terms is Fascism 101. Especially that particular word.”

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” historian Jon Meacham said, “To call your opponent ‘vermin,’ to dehumanize them, is to not only open the door but to walk through the door toward the most ghastly kinds of crimes.”

But the headline that drew the most attention came from The Washington Post: “Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini.”

Think about that. The Washington Post, one of the biggest and most influential news organizations in the world, located in our nation’s capital, called out Trump for sounding like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Trump’s use of the word “vermin” was not an off-the-cuff remark during a speech. He used it again in a post on his Truth Social.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University, told the Post’s Marianne LeVine in an email that “calling people ‘vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanize people and encourage their followers to engage in violence.”

Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa said in a statement, “On a weekend when most Americans were honoring our nation’s heroes, Donald Trump parroted the autocratic language of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini — two dictators many U.S. veterans gave their lives fighting, in order to defeat exactly the kind of un-American ideas Trump now champions.”

It’s one thing for the Biden campaign to rail against Trump’s comments, but it’s another for the media to call out Trump for such troubling rhetoric.

In a recent column for the Guardian US, veteran media journalist Margaret Sullivan implored the press to “Use direct language, not couched in scaredy-cat false equivalence, about the dangers of a second Trump presidency.”

Pointing out that Trump is using the language of dictators, sounding like Hitler, is the responsible step.

And Trump’s stunning speech was not a first. Axios’ Sara Fischer writes, “Trump’s increasingly violent rhetoric — calling for a U.S. military leader to be executed, mocking a near-fatal assault on a congressional spouse, urging police to shoot potential shoplifters — has become a staple of his brand as he faces the threat of conviction in four different criminal cases.”

MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote, “It’s important to emphasize that Trump’s rhetorical excesses are not new. To know anything about the Republican is to know that he, on a nearly daily basis, finds new and needlessly provocative ways to shock, offend, insult, and degrade. It’s a core element of his personality, and the more people are outraged by what he says, the more the former president seems to revel in their disgust.”

Some suggest we shouldn’t overreact to everything Trump says, but this particular speech was different. This shouldn’t be ignored.

Benen wrote, “It’s an unusual word choice for the Republican, but as Trump removes all subtlety from his authoritarian vision, it’s now a new normal for the GOP’s most powerful figure. As upsetting as the resulting image is, it’s best not to look away.”

The good news is that some of the press did not look away this time. In fact, it shined a light on it.

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