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The Liar-In-Chief Attacks Media
A Smoke-Screen For Trump's "Fake News"
The greatest purveyor of "fake news"
By Ray Cunneff
October 11, 2017
NOTE: The following news story needs to be put in a broader context. Trump is currently going after NBC as part of his ongoing assault on a free press and the First Amendment, a tactic employed by all dictators.
By sowing doubt about the credibility of legitimate news media, his "fake news" campaign against them while lending credence to "alternative news and alternative facts", he finds cover in the confusion and information overload that gives him a smoke-screen behind which to lie with impunity.
Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a "tenfold"
increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction,
made up to demean. NBC = CNN!
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks,
at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?
Bad for country!
He is trying to intimidate NBC because they recently broke two stories that have infuriated him. The first is that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called him a "moron" after a meeting this summer in which Trump revealed his utter ignorance of U.S. nuclear policy and several arms-control treaties to a roomful of security and military advisers.
Trump is outraged that NBC is reporting, along with several other news outlets, that he called for a "tenfold" increase in America's nuclear arsenal. Trump denies it but, according to three high-ranking national security officials who were in the room, the president reacted to a briefing slide that charted the steady reduction in the numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960's.
Trump reportedly ignored the 'quantity versus quality' reassurances that the current military posture is stronger now than it was at the height of the last nuclear buildup. And all of this is happening against a background of rising nuclear war saber-rattling between Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
At this moment, Donald Trump is promoting bald-faced lies on several fronts:
My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear
arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before....
That is a lie. Trump issued a presidential memorandum on Jan. 27th that, among other things, directed the Secretary of Defense to initiate a Nuclear Posture Review. But due to the administration's failure to staff key defense positions, the review, which should have been released this month, has been delayed to January. As for the nuclear arsenal itself, Trump has done absolutely NOTHING but take credit. There is an ongoing modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, but it was initiated under Obama, not Trump.
Trump is also constantly repeating one of his favorite, but regularly debunked, campaign-trail lies, that the U.S. is the most heavily-taxed nation on Earth.
Will be going to North Dakota today to discuss tax reform and tax cuts.
We are the highest taxed nation in the world - that will change.
That is a lie. Taking a break yesterday (Tuesday) from an Oval Office meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Trump repeated the statement, one that every fact-checking service has declared false or at the very least patently misleading: "The people of this country want tax cuts," he said. "They want lower taxes; we're the highest taxed nation in the world."
The fact is, the U.S. ranks in the middle of the pack at #13 when compared with the roughly three dozen developed countries tracked by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
American taxpayers paid a little less than $14,800 each in combined taxes in 2015, the latest data available. That compares with the average OECD rate of about $13,800. The most heavily taxed on a per capita basis was Luxembourg ($42,700 per person), followed by Norway ($30,100) and Denmark ($24,500).
Looking at it another way, the U.S. ranks even lower on the list as a share of the size of the overall economy. In 2015, the total tax paid by Americans represented 25.9 percent of overall gross domestic product, the fourth from the bottom of the list of OECD countries.
When challenged, Trump administration spokesholes take the fallback position that the president is only talking about corporate tax rates, ignoring the well-known fact that a variety of loopholes and tax shelters allow many corporations to pay little or no tax at all.
In short, the greatest purveyor of "fake news", apart from Breitbart, alt-right, neo-Nazi and conspiracy websites, is Donald J. Trump.
Trump suggests challenging
NBC's broadcast license
The veiled threat opens a new front in the
president's feud with the media.
President Donald Trump has regularly complained about coverage he views
as unfairly critical, labeling stories, reporters and entire outlets “fake news.”
President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment for reporting on his national security meetings, opening a new front in the president’s long-running battle with the press.
NBC News published a report Wednesday morning stating that Trump had surprised his national security advisers by proposing a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a July meeting. The meeting was what allegedly led Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call Trump a “moron” — a comment that NBC first reported last week.
Trump lashed out at NBC, appearing to make a threat that is not even possible, given that the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t directly license networks.
“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump wrote on Twitter, equating the two TV news outlets he has most often lashed out against. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”
NBC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The FCC had no immediate comment.
The president’s willingness to potentially challenge the broadcast licenses of a media outlet whose coverage he objects to marked an escalation in rhetoric for Trump. The president has regularly complained about coverage he views as unfairly critical, labeling stories, reporters and entire outlets “fake news.”
As a candidate, Trump threatened to "open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money." He repeated that threat in a post to Twitter last March. He also floated the idea of canceling the long-held tradition of White House press briefings, which were moved mostly off-camera for weeks last summer.
It is the second time in as many weeks that Trump has attacked NBC News. The earlier attack came after the “moron” report, which also said Tillerson was on the verge of quitting over the summer.
Tillerson has denied that he ever considered resigning and a State Department spokeswoman later said the secretary doesn’t use language like “moron.”
Trump, meanwhile, said the network’s news division “is so knowingly inaccurate with their reporting” and had “low news and reporting standards.”
“NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!” Trump wrote on Twitter Oct. 4.
It’s unclear exactly how Trump could directly challenge a media outlet’s broadcasting license, if he chose to follow through on his veiled threat.
The FCC, an independent federal agency, issues broadcast licenses to stations and oversees license holders. It does not license networks. NBC is owned by Comcast, which holds broadcast licenses for several stations. NBC also airs on affiliate stations owned by other companies.
Local residents or competitors can file a challenge to a station’s license renewal, but the basis for such a challenge is extremely limited -- it must be a case where the station systematically violated the FCC’s rules or lacked the requisite “character” to hold the license. That is usually defined as a felony conviction, said Andrew Schwartzman, a communications lawyer with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center.
"It’s an empty threat. The last thing that NBC is going to worry about is whether its broadcast licenses are in jeopardy," Schwartzman said.
Schwartzman said the only time he could remember a large broadcaster losing its license was a New York station whose management was convicted of bribery in the 1970's. The license renewal issue surfaced in 2012, when Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. was facing controversy over a phone-hacking scandal in Britain, but Fox’s U.S. television licenses were not revoked over the issue.
While NBC is currently in Trump’s cross-hairs, CNN has most often been the target of Trump's anger with the media. The president has sought to turn the network into something of a foil for him and his supporters, who have chanted "CNN sucks" at rallies. Trump has shared images viewed by some as encouraging violence against CNN, including a professional wrestling clip that shows the president attacking a man with a CNN logo superimposed over his head and a cartoon with a "Trump" train running over a man covered by a CNN logo.
The cable network's White House reporters have sparred often with White House press secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders during briefings, while the administration has, at times, refused to put its spokespeople and surrogates on CNN.
Trump has lobbed insults and threats at newspapers, too, most often targeting the "money losing" New York Times and the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the owner of online retail giant Amazon.
"The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!” Trump wrote on Twitter last June.
The attack came one day after the Post reported that at least four Trump Organization golf properties had on display a fake Time magazine with Trump on the cover and flattering headlines about his reality TV show, "The Apprentice," which aired on NBC.
Jason Schwartz contributed to this report.