The outrage over President Trump tweeting a mock video that shows him attacking CNN is largely misplaced. Much more troubling for the deeply divided country is another recent video.The short mock video featuring Donald Trump pinning down a man in a business suit whose head is replaced with a CNN logo outside a wrestling ring is not only crudely made, its message is equally crude.
President Trump literally takes on what he and many of his supporters call the fake news media – traditional journalistic organizations like CNN, the New York Times or the Washington Post.
From the very start of his campaign Trump has railed not just against established media outlets, but really against every journalistic organization that he feels treats him unfairly, to rile up his core backers who loathe what they view as the fake news media at least as much as their president does.
Unbecoming of a president
His tweet of a mock video in which he is seen physically attacking a leading member of the traditional media establishment is repulsive and unbecoming of a president.
At the same time, the latest incident is also not surprising given Trump’s contentious use of Twitter which generates headlines on an almost daily basis and his deep-seated animus toward the media.
Usually, and this will probably happen with the wrestling video tweet as well, after a day or two of public outcry over the incident, the debate fizzles out without any consequences, only to be restarted about the next outrage du jour caused by another presidential tweet.
To be absolutely clear: Donald Trump’s abuse of Twitter as a tool to insult, harass and attack his opponents – whether it is the media, politicians or anyone else that disagrees with him – is despicable and cannot be excused.
Diversion of topics
At the same time, say experts, his Twitter usage can also be strategic at times in that it diverts the attention away from topics the public and the media might discuss otherwise.
In this case, instead of discussing seemingly stalled Republican efforts to pass healthcare reform – which would have obvious and immediate consequences for millions of Americans – the focus is on Trump’s ongoing war with the media, which, while troubling, will have little direct impact for most Americans.
Much more disturbing than Trump’s tweet of a crude wrestling video is a professionally produced recruitment video published recently by the National Rifle Association (NRA), a staunch backer of the president.
The sleek clip features a narrator employing divisive “us-against-them” rhetoric to paint a gloomy picture of a nation allegedly threatened by supporters of former President Barack Obama and other Trump opponents.
“The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country, and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth,” the video concludes.
The reason why this clip – which has gone viral and garnered more than six millions views since the NRA posted it on Facebook in June – has been labelled incendiary by critics is because it stops just short of explicitly encouraging violence against opponents of the president.
The biggest gun lobby in the country sending this kind of a deliberate message in the midst of an already volatile political climate is arguably a worse harbinger for a deeply divided nation than Trump tweeting a mock video of himself wrestling the media.