Friday, February 28, 2020

Trump lights a match under the New York Times

Man burning books, by Marco Dente (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
     Sue me!
     Haven’t I always reported the truth about Donald Trump?
     Years before he descended that escalator at Trump Tower, I was pointing in alarm at the loamy soil the GOP was preparing for him or somebody like him.
     “When I look at the Republicans, I am tempted to dismiss them as the Treason Party,” I wrote in the Sun-Times on July 4, 2012. “Seriously, were a band of traitors to concoct a series of positions deliberately designed to weaken America, they would be hard pressed to beat the current GOP dogma — hobble education, starve the government by slashing taxes to the rich, kneecap attempts to jumpstart the economy by fixating on debt, invite corporations to dominate political discourse, balkanize the population by demonizing minorities and immigrants and let favored religions dictate social policy.”
     Once Trump was in office, I tried to explain him in frank, unambiguous terms.
”He is a deeply un-American hate monger, in thrall to the Russians, who is working to undermine the country morally, economically, physically — yanking away health insurance from 24 million people, many of whom are so out to sea they voted for the man,” I wrote in 2017. “That every day he works to undermine the legitimacy of the media, the courts, the idea of truth itself. He’s a liar, a bully and fraud.”

     Those last three words—"liar, bully and fraud" I settled on as a shorthand, a synecdoche to stand in for a much longer list of character flaws. I'd use again and again, as a trope, like Homer's "wine dark sea," sometimes adding "and possible traitor," that "possible" a fig leaf formality, like referring to a man recording committing a crime, arrested with the knife in his hand, as the "alleged murderer."
     But did Donald Trump’s reelection campaign sue me for libel on Wednesday? No, they did not. They sued the New York Times — these Eastern elites, even in conflict they see only each other. As if the Times needs another distinction to go with its 127 Pulitzer Prizes. The Trump campaign claims it was wronged by an opinion piece suggesting the Russians hurt Hillary Clinton’s electoral chances so Trump would roll like a puppy at Putin’s feet.

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  1. You've outdone yourself on this one. It's a frightening thought if this guy wins again.

  2. The Trump campaign is probably hard at work dreaming up excuses to drop the lawsuit. As Oscar Wilde famously found out, a defamation action cuts both ways and though truth strictly speaking may not be the irresistible defense, it's something Trump and company would prefer to keep under wraps, I would think.


  3. Great column, Neil.
    Hope this suit goes forward. Can't wait for discovery.

  4. So, you don't want to keep America great?

    You avoided the foul words that immediately flood me when I tackle this topic.

    Please to continue with the hell-giving, good sir!


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