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Corporate Media Fail to Hold Trump's Feet to Fire on Ongoing Bigotry Once Again

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From Buzzflash at TruthOut July 5, 2016

Gage Skidmore
Gage Skidmore
(Image by Gage Skidmore Flickr)
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On Saturday, Donald Trump tweeted an image of a red Star of David next to a picture of Hillary Clinton with hundred dollar bills in the background, with the caption "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever" superimposed on the Star of David. A few hours later, amid strong condemnation from social media respondents, Trump deleted the image and reposted the same image except with a circle replacing the original Star of David. Unequivocally, the message is that Clinton is in the pocket of rich Jews, a stereotypical image that was harnessed by Hitler himself to build a "justification" for sending millions of Jews to their slaughter. So where was the media in covering the story? Unfortunately, the great corporate watchdog has sanitized the story, having failed to learn from history.

During the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power, the U.S. media helped to paint a positive image of this demagogue. Not unlike corporate media's soft pedaling of Trump, coverage of Hitler's campaign played up the support he had from the German people, based on the numbers attending his campaign speeches, while playing down his hateful demagoguery. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, an article appeared in the New York Times stating, "There is at least one official voice in Europe that expresses understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt -- the voice of Germany, as represented by Chancellor Adolf Hitler." The Christian Monitor even touted the virtues of Nazism, proclaiming that it had a "capacity for organization unequaled in our times by any except the Bolshevik leaders."

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So, it is ironic to learn that the mainstream corporate media, including the New York Times, along with its network news brethren, have once again fallen down on the job. This time it is not in the coverage of a deranged foreign demagogue but, instead, in coverage of a domestic one the likes of Donald Trump.

The New York Times' response to Trump's Tweet was a toothless article titled "Donald Trump Deletes Tweet Showing Hillary Clinton and Star of David Shape." Was the real story that Trump deleted the anti-Semitic tweet or that he posted it in the first place? The article states, "Mr. Trump apparently realized the problem with the original Twitter post because he rarely apologizes for his remarks or deletes his posts. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday." He "apparently realized the problem"? "Realizing the problem" implies lack of intention, as though it only occurred to him that the post was Anti-Semitic after the public outcry. To put to rest the rationalization that the image was a sheriffs star mysteriously imposed upon a pile of money, Mic reported that the same image was posted about one week or so earlier on a white supremacist internet message board, and produced the link to the website. Instead of condemning what was obviously aimed at maligning Clinton in a manner that would likely resonate with the anti-Semitic faction of his base, the Times has given Trump yet another free pass to espouse hatred.

Unfortunately, the lack of clear unequivocal condemnation was deafeningly absent from the network media nine hours after the story broke. ABC, NBC, CNN, and NBC all soft pedaled it on their websites; Fox did not even mention it, but instead focused on the FBI investigation of Hilary Clinton. Subsequently, when the independent media began to buzz with the story, the network media began to address the story, in a sanitized manner. The issue now was whether a renegade staffer posted the offensive image unbeknownst to Trump. However, on Monday, July 4, Trump tweeted, "Dishonest media is trying their absolute best to depict a star in a tweet as the Star of David rather than a Sheriff's Star, or plain star!" The "dishonest media" is "trying its absolute best"? To the contrary, the networks followed Trump's red herring, raising the question of whether it was a sheriff's star, and brought in his surrogates on the issue to dignify the claim (including the infamous, former Trump Campaign advisor, now CNN commentator, Corey Lewandowki). A sheriff's star without circles highlighting each of its points? A plain star taken from a white supremacist website? Could it be, the networks queried, that Trump "innocently" appropriated the image from someone else's tweet? But, Trump defended the tweet, even though it originated from a white supremacist website.

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Trump's persistent pattern of racism threatens to undermine the progress made in the past several decades in the United States on civil liberties, and to spawn a new era of Nazism, this time in America. The corporate mainstream media needs to beware. When Hitler came to power, he immediately seized the press and turned it into a Nazi propaganda machine. Trump has already taken away the press credentials from the Washington Post, among other news organizations, barring them from attending his press conferences; proclaiming that "journalists are among the worst people I know"; and lashing out at particular journalists, calling them "sleaze"; he has already made abundantly clear that he will not tolerate journalists who challenge him. Is it not also clear, therefore, what a Trump presidency would portend for the media?

It is not acceptable to dismiss a blatant case of anti-Semitism (no less than attacks on Mexicans, Muslims, and the handicapped) espoused by someone who may well become the next President of the United States. Perhaps the media is banking on a President Trump who abandons his hateful rhetoric and assumes a "presidential" posture. This is, indeed, the hope of the GOP, which seems to think that the real Trump is not the Trump on the campaign trail. This same mistake was made by the American press in covering Hitler. Thus, a January 30, 1933 editorial in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin stated, "there have been indications of moderation" on Hitler's part; and on January 31, 1933, the Cleveland Press said, "appointment of Hitler as German chancellor may not be such a threat to world peace as it appears at first blush."

Of course, the rest is history!

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Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D. is a political analyst and media critic. His most recent book is Technology of Oppression: Preserving Freedom and Dignity in an Age of Mass, Warrantless Surveillance(Palegrave Macmillan, 2014.) He is a Fellow at the (more...)
 

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