There is nothing amusing about the denigrating remarks President Trump makes about members of the press and other politicians at his rallies.
While supporters and some analysts dismiss it as the president’s “shtick” or just Trump being Trump, American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April Ryan says some reporters are getting death threats as a result of Trump’s words.
That’s some of what we talked about Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” in a lively and, at times passionate, segment about a Trump rally Saturday night and the way Trump uses TV narratives to try and control the conversation of American life.
I talked about Trump in the context of Neil Postman’s landmark 1985 book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”
My argument: TV has been the principal storyteller of American life during all of the president’s adult years, and as a reality TV star, he is steeped in those narratives and tropes.
TV teaches us to see everything, from politics to news and sports, in terms of entertainment narratives and expect everyone from our political leaders to our teachers to be amusing, attractive and entertaining like the people on TV.
Judged by the standards of TV entertainment, Trump is a winning personality. Judged by traditional standards of the American presidency, he is off the rails — and, some would say, a danger to democracy.
Sadly, too many of us care only about being amused and entertained. We want our president to be there on the screen when we click it on entertaining or shocking us as Trump almost always manages to do.
But what about the serious business of leading the nation and helping us a craft a national narrative that will unify and inspire us?
I was also in another segment with Stelter in which we talked about: Sam Nunberg’s meltdown on TV last week, a new study that found fake news travels faster than real news and Sunshine Week, which emphasizes the relationship between access to information and democracy.
Here’s a link to more information of Sunshine Week, which is sponsored by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the American Society of News Editors.
“Secrecy is everywhere,” I said on the show. “And I’ll tell you what, with this Trump administration model, I think it’s getting worse.”
I also mentioned as an example of the vigilance it takes to keep information public the Sun’s successful pushback this month against the Maryland Judiciary for removing arresting officers names from its Case Search online database.