Trump apes Stalin

This editorial appeared in the New York Daily News.

The most powerful person in the world is using his bully pulpit to put rhetorical crosshairs on the backs of some of the nation’s best journalists. No one who values the truth can take Donald Trump’s frontal assault on those who work hard daily to deliver it, his veritable invitation for deranged individuals to convert hostile words into violent deeds, lying down.

Wednesday morning, in reaction to an exhaustively reported New York Times investigation into Trump’s two-year attempt to thwart probes into his inner circle’s dealings with Russia, came the President’s primal scream on Twitter: “The New York Times reporting is false. They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

Lest you need a refresher course in that vile capitalized phrase, it was a Russian — a Georgian, actually — who made it famous. Branding those perceived to be threats, traitors and counter-revolutionaries, Joseph Stalin spied on them and murdered them and sent them to the gulag. So corrosive was the dictator’s use of the invective, his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, banned it.

A man who not long ago yearned to be Vladimir Putin’s best friend revives the terminology not to dispute specific facts in a narrative supported by two dozen sources and documentary evidence, but to brand an entire news organization as hostile to the nation.

At a time when partisans already too often make their own reality, in a world where dictators jail and torture dissidents, the so-called leader of the free world seeks to brand inconvenient truths as threats to the state. Among many stomach-turning legacies, it is his most sickening. 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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