CNN: Trump Is a ‘Danger to American Democracy,’ Media Are Saviors

Since President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, the media have been in an uproar with conspiratorial claims that the Russia investigation was the cause. On CNN Sunday morning, serial plagiarist Fareed Zakaria kicked off his show by declaring that there was only one group that could defend America from Trump: The Media. “Donald Trump in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions poses a danger to American democracy,” he announced. “Our task is, quite simply, to keep alive the spirit of American democracy.

He started off his opening monologue by claiming that “As regular viewers know, I have tried to evaluate Donald Trump's presidency fairly.” He complemented Trump on selected some capable people for “high office,” but followed that up with a dire warning. “But there has always been another aspect to this presidency lurking beneath the surface, sometimes erupting into full view as it did this week,” he added. “Donald Trump in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions poses a danger to American democracy.

There typically would only one way to keep Trump in check according to Zakaria, and that would be through impeachment. The CNN host wrote off that avenue and cut down Congressional Republicans for not standing up to the man he seemed to be equating to a dictator:

Since Trump's own party controls both chambers of Congress there has been little resistance to him there. So far it appears the Republican Party is losing any resemblance to a traditional western political party. Instead simply turning into something commonly found in the developing world -- a platform to support the ego, appetites, and interests of one man and his family.

 “There are only two forces left that can place some constraints on Donald Trump, the courts, and the media. And he has relentlessly attacked both,” Zakaria argued as he rattled off instances where Trump has criticized courts and judges. “That leaves the media. Trump has gone at them, at us, like no president before. Smearing news organizations, attacking individual journalists and threatening to strip legal protections guaranteed to a free press. We will survive, but we must recognize the stakes.

Zakaria seems to be asserting that Trump’s tweets were so powerful that they could render the entire U.S. judicial system useless in keeping his danger at bay, but the media were the ones who could persevere and protect America. He omitted how the Obama administration targeted Fox News by trying to get them excluded from the White House press pool and labeled James Rosen as a co-conspirator for not revealing the source of a leak.

The media’s mission, according to Zakaria was to:

Never let the public forget that many of the attitudes and actions of this president are gross violations of the customs and practices of the modern American system; that they are aberrations and they cannot become the new norms. That way, after Trump, the country will not start the next presidency with tattered standards and sunken expectations. Our task is, quite simply, to keep alive the spirit of American democracy.

He also claimed that the media needed to cover the Trump administration fairly, but that quick point went right out the window with his own rant. His hyperbolic smears took his political analysis to a dangerous new low. It’s rather ridiculous for Zakaria to frame the media as the country’s saviors since they have a lower approval rating than the President himself. 

Transcript below:

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CNN
Fared Zakaria GPS
May 14, 2017
10:01:31 AM Eastern

FAREED ZAKARIA: As regular viewers know, I have tried to evaluate Donald Trump's presidency fairly. I have praised him when he has appointed competent people to high office -- and he has -- and expressed support for his policies when they seem serious and sensible, even though this has drawn criticism from some quarters. But there has always been another aspect to this presidency lurking beneath the surface, sometimes erupting into full view as it did this week.

Donald Trump in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions poses a danger to American democracy. What makes the American system of government distinctive is not how democratic it is but rather the opposite. American democracy has a series of checks intended to prevent the accumulation and abuse of power by any one person or group. Bu.t there is one gaping hole in the system. The president.

As Trump told The New York Times regarding separating himself from his business empire, “the law is totally on my side. Meaning the president can't have a conflict of interest.” Most lawyers say Trump is right. The rules don't really apply to the president. There is just one real check on the president -- impeachment. And it is political, not legal. Since Trump's own party controls both chambers of Congress there has been little resistance to him there. So far it appears the Republican Party is losing any resemblance to a traditional western political party. Instead simply turning into something commonly found in the developing world -- a platform to support the ego, appetites, and interests of one man and his family.

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There are other less potent checks on the power of the president. Some are structural. Others simply a matter of morality or precedent. Trump has sought to destroy almost every one of these both before the election and now in the White House. This week he summarily dismissed FBI Director James Comey, reportedly over his investigation of Russian collusion in the American election. If true the firing would be a shattering blow.

There are only two forces left that can place some constraints on Donald Trump, the courts, and the media. And he has relentlessly attacked both. Every time a court has ruled against one of his executive orders, the President ridiculed the decision or demeaned judges involved. That leaves the media. Trump has gone at them, at us, like no president before. Smearing news organizations, attacking individual journalists and threatening to strip legal protections guaranteed to a free press.

We will survive, but we must recognize the stakes. The media must cover the administration's policies fairly. But it also must never let the public forget that many of the attitudes and actions of this president are gross violations of the customs and practices of the modern American system, that they are aberrations and they cannot become the new norms. That way, after Trump, the country will not start the next presidency with tattered standards and sunken expectations. Our task is, quite simply, to keep alive the spirit of American democracy.

Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas Fondacaro
Nicholas C. Fondacaro