CNN's Jake Tapper, a widely respected journalist whose words carry weight across the political and media spectrum, was pushed to open mockery of Donald Trump by his recent attacks on the judiciary and the free press, and concurrent defense of Russian despot Vladimir Putin.
On CNN's The Lead, host Jake Tapper offered a cutting critique of Donald Trump that took him to task for his recent comments attacking the federal judiciary, the free press, and the United States of America, while defending Russian despot Vladimir Putin. Tapper's searing commentary correctly casts Trump's actions as an attack on two "pillars of our democracy":
TAPPER: President Trump's tweets are windows into his soul, unfiltered, and often seemingly unmoored. This weekend we all got to take quite a gander. Of Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who temporarily suspended the president's travel and immigration ban, President Trump attacked him as a, quote, "so-called judge," seeming to question the judge's legitimacy and competence. Mr. Trump went on, "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens, blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!"
Of the many polls suggesting that a majority of the American public opposes the travel ban, the president wrote, quote, "Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting."
Let me read that one part of that again. "Any negative polls are fake news." You got that? So, any polling suggesting anything negative about the president or his policies is not, in his view, real. Of well-sourced stories reporting that the president did not know the extent to which his putting senior strategist Steve Bannon on the principals committee of the National Security Council would be unprecedented and controversial, President Trump seemed to disagree. He opined, quote, "I call my own shots largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some fake news media, in order to marginalize, lies.
Alright, to sum up: If a judge rules against the president, he's a "so-called judge." If a poll shows that a majority of you disagree with his policies, the poll is fake. If a well-sourced news story reflects something unflattering about him, that story is fake. So, the judicial branch of government and the free press, two fundamental pillars of our democracy, if we take actions he does not like, we are not legitimate. Okay. What about a known geopolitical foe of the United States like, say, I don't know, Russian President Vladimir Putin? Well, coincidentally, the president was asked about Putin during yesterday's Super Bowl interview with Bill O'Reilly.
TRUMP: Will I get along with him? I have no idea. It’s very possible I won’t.
O’REILLY: He’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.
TRUMP: Lot of killers, we got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?
Tapper: Whoa! So, as long as we all know where we stand. I suppose.
Jake Tapper is a journalist with whom people on either side of the political spectrum frequently disagree, but he is widely-respected (partially as a consequence of this) and difficult for defenders or enablers of Trump to dismiss.
Trump's conduct is outrageous and difficult to overstate, and the corporate media has been slow to adapt to it. It is not enough to simply call out Trump's lies, a task that the media finds difficult to begin with, but to connect those lies with the consequences that are at stake.