On Tuesday night in Arizona, in addition to insulting both Republican senators from Arizona, President Trump yet again attacked the free press. Not long ago, Trump described the free press as the enemy of the people.
Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden MORE (R-Ariz.) responded at the time by suggesting that dictatorships start when authoritarian politicians attack the free press.
Retired four-star Adm. William McRaven, the chancellor of the University of Texas and a former Navy Seal who commanded American special operations forces that killed Osama bin Laden, responded by saying Trump’s attacks against the press constitute a significant threat to American democracy.
McCain, McRaven and countless others who have condemned Trump’s attacks against the free press are absolutely right. It is not the free press' fault that not one major piece of legislation promoted by Trump has been been passed by the Republican Congress in the first seven months of his presidency.
It is not free press' fault that Trump repeatedly attacks a growing list of Republican senators who raise serious questions about his competence, judgment and fitness for office. Nor is it the free press' fault that Trump keeps escalating his feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push On The Money — GOP blocks spending bill to kick off chaotic week in congress Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alrtia — Booster shots get bipartisan rollout MORE (R-Ky.), whose support is essential if Trump will ever achieve passage of significant legislation in Congress.
Trump is losing his war against the free press by a landslide. His approval ratings are lower than any president in the seventh month of a presidency. Trump is losing his war against the free press because the more facts that are reported by the press, the more the antipathy against Trump rises from the citizens of the nation.
The facts of Trump’s words and deeds, not the reporting of those facts by the free press, are defeating Trump in the battle for support from the American people.
Whether or not special counsel Robert Mueller ultimately seeks an indictment against Trump or any of his associates, those facts revealed about meetings between Trump associates and Russians and Trump’s repeated praise of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin damage the president in the high court of public opinion.
When Trump fights for a repeal of ObamaCare that is intensely disliked by huge numbers of Americans, it is the damage that his healthcare plan will inflict that causes his disapproval to rise to such great heights. It is not the free press, which reports about the Congressional Budget Office analysis of Trump’s plan and reports about leading healthcare experts condemning his plan, that defeats Trump in the court of public opinion.
When Trump makes comments about the outrage that occurred in Charlottesville, those comments, not the free press, lead business leaders to stampede to resign from various Trump business panels and cause a long list of GOP elected officials to condemn his words.
McCain and McRaven are right: The essence of democracy is that an informed public makes sound decisions about its leaders based on the free clash of ideas that the free press embodies.
Trump's false statements, not the media that fact-checks those statements, have led to his sweeping disapproval from American voters. In Arizona on Tuesday, Trump again attacked the free press, and in doing so, he reminded the majority of voters who disapprove of him why they yearn for the post-Trump era in American politics.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He is a longtime regular columnist for The Hill and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.