At the G20 summit in Osaka Japan, the president and Putin joked about their troubles with the press, expressing their desire to get rid of journalists.

Only in the dystopia that is the Trump administration, would the leader of the free world joke with a dictator about getting rid of journalists. Trump and Putin commiserated about their media woes, bringing up the issue of “fake news” and the problems they had with their press. Trump’s joking about getting rid of the press on the anniversary of the Capitol Gazette massacre was not only tone deaf but also reminded the public of the hostile environment the administration has created for the liberal media since Trump has taken office. 

The image of a supposed leader of a  country where to freedom of the press is quite literally the most sacred and fundamental liberty, engaging in friendly banter with a dictator, whose government is notorious for their treatment of the press seemed impossible and shows that the administration has reached a new low. The image of a supposed leader of at the G20 summit, he reached a new low, joking with a dictator about “getting rid of the press”. Since his inauguration, Trump has complained about the media’s coverage of him, coining the term “fake news”, creating a volatile and unsafe environment for journalists in America.

History of Bonding Over “Fake News” with Dictators 

Considering the company he keeps, the wistfulness of Trump’s desire to eliminate the press is not surprising, The friendly banter between Trump and Putin is nothing new, back in March he had bonded with the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over their united front against “fake news”. If Trump was a dictator, he would without question take a cue from Putin’s playbook and kill off whistleblowers and members of the liberal media. One thing is for certain, over the course of his term, he has consistently stoked the flames of his fan base’s mistrust and hatred of the media. The only thing keeping him from acting on his desire is the constitutional right to their freedom of the press. 

Both with Putin and Bolsonaro, Trump declared the supposed fake news being “the enemy of our people and country” when in reality his propaganda tactics and discrediting of the unfavorable press is the real enemy to our country. The trend of Trump bonding with dictators and foreign leaders over restricting freedom is more than troubling. By wishing that he could get rid of journalists, Trump is expressing his desire to censor the free press.  When Trump and Putin laughed over their trouble with fake news, it sent a strong message to the American people, once again signaling his desire to end of democracy as we know it, for a dictator and leader of the free world agreeing over censorship is not a normal occurrence. 

The Problem with “Fake News” 

Since his inauguration almost four years ago, Trump has cultivated a toxic and unsafe environment for the liberal media in the United States, encouraging the label of “fake news” in an attempt to discredit the watchdogs of the media industry who hold him accountable for his many breaches of justice and lack of integrity while in office. The term has become his go-to excuse for any accusations or press that attempt to hold him accountable.  His catch-all excuse for bad press resembles the reaction of a child, who refuses to admit his wrongdoings, by citing “fake news” he is shifting the blame to the media, further stoking the flames of his supporters’ hatred for the media. Because of his actions, the public’s trust of the press has been eviscerated, with the administration consistently discrediting the liberal media by insinuating that they are lying. 

Unlike his predecessors who had a civil relationship with the media, Trump has routinely reacted to the bad press by calling journalists the “enemy of the people”, lamenting over the freedom of the press and their coverage of him. In joking with Putin about the “problem” of fake news in America, Trump openly complained about one of the cornerstones of our founding documents and what makes us American, to begin with.  Over the course of his term, he has encouraged violence towards the press and attempted to bar certain media outlets from the press room after they disagreed with him. His trend of dismissing facts as falsehoods creates a society where journalists are no longer trusted and are attacked for doing their duty as members of the press. 

A Dangerous New World 

On the surface level, Trump’s fake news excuse may seem harmless, upon taking a closer look at his rhetoric against the liberal media, we can clearly identify the first stages of censorship. By discrediting the media and dismissing their reports as untruthful, he is setting up his supporters for distrust in the media.  When we have a president, who labels any unfavorable criticism of the press as untruthful, the freedom of the press is no longer truly alive.  The flippant nature in which Trump joked about “getting rid of journalists” should have rung off alarm bells in the minds of the American public. The man sitting in the Oval Office openly stated that he wished he could eradicate the free press and yet his fan base hardly blinked an eye. 

Amanda Parisse is Generation Z Voice at the Pavlovic Today. She is studying Communications with an interest in psychology, at Goucher College in Towson Maryland. Her specific interests include civil liberties,...

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