Steve Schmidt is a dedicated Republican Party political operative. He is no friend or fan of Donald Trump.
The comments attributed to Schmidt here speak to what I believe is a frightening potential trend in U.S. political-media relations.
You ought to read these comments and ponder the gravity of what this man is positing. He believes that the president and the White House are seeking to control information flow the way it is done in authoritarian countries.
The president spends a lot of time tweeting and commenting verbally about his mistrust and loathing of what he calls “fake news” outlets. Trump relies exclusively, or so it seems, on Fox News, whose team of commentators, pundits, contributors and talk show hosts seems so very pleased with the job he is doing as president.
Which suits Donald Trump just fine, thank you very much.
Schmidt, who served on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, sees an inherent danger lurking here. He believes the president’s penchant for relying exclusively on favorable reporting produces an information flow that is akin to propaganda.
He believes it weakens our democratic institutions and produces rampant “misinformation.”
Presidents traditionally have gnashed their teeth at the media’s coverage of their activities. Every one of them has had serious issues with what they deemed to be negative coverage.
Have they disparaged the media as an institution? Have they trashed major media outlets — and individual journalists — to the degree we are witnessing in this Age of Trump? No. They all recognize a fundamental tenet of our democratic system: Government needs the media to hold them accountable.
To do what Steve Schmidt suggests is occurring, indeed, is “appalling.” It’s also dangerous to the well-being of the nation we all say we love.