The Washington Post Turns Totalitarian - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Washington Post Turns Totalitarian
The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan (YouTube screenshot)

Margaret Sullivan hates the president.

But there is something else that really gets the Washington Post’s media columnist riled up: That would be Americans taking time to listen to the president and the cast of now-daily virus briefers from doctors and scientists who stand with him behind the podium in the White House briefing room.

Her solution? Here’s the headline:

The media must stop live-broadcasting Trump’s dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings

And she wasn’t alone. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said, “I would stop putting those briefings on live TV.”

Typically with the Left, one needs to take a look at what they leave out of their stories. Ranting and raving about Trump’s “xenophobic talk of a ‘Chinese virus,’ ” Sullivan conveniently leaves out that, as pointed out in this space last week, no less than the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, neither exactly a bastion of right-wingism, have page after page on their respective websites identifying various diseases and viruses by their geographic location. From Lyme Disease to the Marburg Virus, West Nile Virus, Ebola, the Reston Virus, Zika Virus, MERS Syndrome (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus), Ross River Fever, and more, one disease or virus after another has been and is now labeled by its geographic place of origin.

Yet apparently in Sullivan’s world — and she is hardly alone in this on the left — the Chinese are not to be treated the same as every other country or region because, well, they just aren’t equal to Americans from Connecticut or Germans from Marburg or Africans from the West Nile or who populate the banks of Africa’s Ebola River. This is either racial condescension at worst or, alternatively, suggests a Washington Post columnist is taking her writing cues from the totalitarian Chinese Communist Party, the latter of which is busy using the American Left’s addiction to identity politics by playing the race card.

Running through a list of other complaints, she finally gets to this:

Radical change is necessary: The cable networks and other news organizations that are taking the president’s briefings as live feeds should stop doing so.

And right there we get to the heart of leftism in general, especially in the Age of Trump.

Scratch a leftist, find a totalitarian. They are political control freaks. The most benign feature of this is the history of issuing a zillion regulations to control A, B, C, or D in American life. The truly destructive underbelly of this is the wild ravings of dictators and their secret or sometimes not-so-secret police forces who drag dissenters from beds Stalin/Mao/Castro-style and prop them up against the wall to await the firing squad.

Sullivan’s indulgence of her totalitarian urges in this case is to simply have the media refuse to cover the daily White House virus briefings.

But wait! Once upon a time Margaret Sullivan had another view altogether of White House briefings in the Trump era. There was considerable — and eventually accurate — talk that the traditional daily briefing with the president’s press secretary were going to be abandoned altogether by the Trump White House. Wrote Sullivan in January 2019 (with bold print supplied for emphasis):

So, a blithe farewell to the briefings?

That certainly isn’t the posture of the White House Correspondents’ Association, whose president, Olivier Knox, protested Tuesday after Trump’s tweet.

“This retreat from transparency and accountability sets a terrible precedent,” he said in a statement. The back-and-forth between reporters and White House, he wrote, demonstrates that “no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned.”

Flawed as these sessions are, Knox is right.

Part of their value is optics — they show reporters at least attempting to get at the truth by questioning those in power.…

So if the Trump White House never holds another briefing, will anything be lost?

The temptation is to say no. But I’m with Knox on this: As citizens, we’re better off with the briefings, bad as they are.

Now, of a sudden, Sullivan is suddenly indulging her innermost totalitarian dreams. What changed? After all, these daily briefings with the back and forth between the president and the White House press corps do indeed show exactly what Sullivan said she wanted. The briefings “show reporters at least attempting to get at the truth by questioning those in power.” Or maybe showboating for the cameras as they push the liberal agenda of the day.

So why the abrupt turnabout from Sullivan?

Perhaps because of headlines like this one found over at the Blaze:

Poll: Americans rally around Trump with 56% approving of his handling of the coronavirus crisis

The story begins this way:

A pair of polls released Friday morning show the nation rallying around President Donald Trump as the “wartime” leader directs the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Surveys by ABC News / Ipsos and Axios / Harris found that more than half of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the crisis.

According to the nationwide ABC News / Ipsos study taken March 18-19, 55% of Americans approve of the president’s management of COVID-19, compared to 43% who disapprove of his performance. Trump’s approval on this issue is nearly reversed from last week when the same pollsters found 43% approved of his handling of the coronavirus while 54% disapproved.

A separate national poll by Harris Insights taken March 17-18 for news organization Axios finds nearly identical numbers, with a growing number of Americans giving high marks to Trump during the crisis. According to the researchers, 56% of Americans approve of Trump’s management of COVID-19, an improvement from 51% who said the same during the survey’s first wave on March 14-15.

Note well that the polls are, respectively, from ABC News/Ipsos and Harris Insights/Axios, neither of which is known for its Trumpism.

The reason Margaret Sullivan suddenly wants to shut down the presidential briefings is that, for an hour or so every day, the American people have gotten to see the president in action, up close and personal. For themselves. And what they see is not the hateful, ignorant bigot of the liberal media narrative.

What they see is a very determined, very smart guy who, like various presidents before him with names like Bush 43, Reagan, Kennedy, Truman, FDR, and Lincoln, is suddenly thrust into an explosive situation that no one saw coming. In that respect, like FDR dealing with Pearl Harbor or Bush with 9/11 or JFK with the Cuban Missile Crisis, they are not interested in hurling invective at the president in question. They are about rallying around a president who quite obviously is working hard to bring all Americans together to solve a serious national emergency — a national emergency that, yes, as with Pearl Harbor and 9/11, has killed Americans and threatens to kill many more.

The Sullivan column is so revealing of the leftist mindset. The constant allegations that Trump is a wannabe dictator has suddenly given way to demands from the left that he become a dictator. Which says everything we need to know about what is really the underlying go-to of leftists.

Perhaps there is a solution? Maybe, to take a page from Sullivan’s playbook, the Washington Post should shut down her column? Or better yet, cease to publish the Washington Post altogether? And take Rachel Maddow — or maybe all of MSNBC (and CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC) off the air?

Ahhhh … no. Never. There is a First Amendment for a reason. That would be to make sure that the country has a steady free-flow of information and competing ideas and that Americans of all views have the freedom to express those views — something that is never more important than at moments like the one we are in.

Because when propagandists like Sullivan are allowed to go unchallenged, dictatorship — whether from politicians or media — looms in the wings.

And oh yes: Even this president has a right to free speech — just as his fellow Americans have a right to hear his views.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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