I spent nearly 30 years in and around newsrooms at six different papers. Know this: There was never even one second I considered myself an enemy of the people. There isn’t a single journalist who does.
Every journalist I have ever known fancied themselves as advocates for the people. It is simple, really: Journalists have to get to places readers or viewers simply can’t to tell them what is happening — whether it is a war zone, a school board meeting, a ballgame, or a press briefing.
Journalists also have a duty to call power into account — to ask the questions of our elected officials, board members and coaches that you would ask if you were standing in front of them. They have a duty to dig into information you have a right to see as citizens of the United States of America.
Journalists are far from perfect, and the very best ones never want to be. They just want to be accurate, because the minute they stop being accurate, they stop being taken credibly. Stop being taken credibly? You are done. Through. I have seen that happen to a few folks, and it is devastating.
Print journalists are generally the worst-dressed people in any room but are proud, rumpled models for AP Style. Most are paid like shit, but none of them signed up to get rich. An old print vet told me once, “They pay you just enough to keep you tolerably miserable, and hungry enough to get that next story.”
Journalism is a calling. I get why that might read as highfalutin but I type that as an ex-journalist looking back in from the outside. When you are in the middle of it all, it is just one helluva job. No time for reflection, just a news hole to fill and ornery editors to appease.
I point all this out, because for the better part of two years, Donald J. Trump has dangerously and recklessly torn into the working press as “enemies of the people.” He has done this not because he believes it, but because he fears truth like a journalist fears deadline.
In fact, Trump built his criminal empire in New York City currying favor with the press. There are legendary stories of him using the fake names “John Miller” and “John Barron” to sell The Donald to the public. He positively craved the press’s attention.
And then somehow he won an election he didn’t believe he could. How’s that for a dose of truth and irony served cold?
He was suddenly into something gigantic and truly important. He knew he was over-matched — “unfit” as so many rightfully said. The thing he was into now was far, far bigger than his fake, realty-TV show life, and those brutal campaign rallies where he could literally shout anything — ANYTHING — into a microphone, go unchallenged and be fawned over by The Lost among us. There has never been a single bit of truth standing in the same room with Donald Trump. He won’t permit it.
So how to tackle the job he was not remotely qualified to handle? You set an alternative reality replete with alternative facts.
Trump and his evil, anti-American minions calculated that even if the story being reported at the time was 100 percent accurate, if an “enemy of the people” delivered it, it could not be trusted.
On Thursday we finally got to see huge, unredacted swaths of the Mueller Report. Despite Trump and his morally bankrupt attorney general’s efforts to spin its contents, Mueller’s team delivered an eye-opening, perfectly sourced, meticulously written and positively scathing document. It reveals the real Trump. It even gives us glimpses of just how terrified he was when in a rare moment of honesty he says,
“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”
Trump in fact has been crawling in Russians, with over 140 verifiable contacts in the report. Say, remember when he said over and over again, he had no contacts with Russians?
The report tells us he tried to obstruct the investigation no fewer than a dozen times.
The reports paints in vivid, black-and-white detail a White House in chaos and gasping for air.
Even Mitt Romney — yes, THAT, Mitt Romney — yesterday described the disgusting situation in the White House as this:
“I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president.
“I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia — including information that had been illegally obtained, that none of them acted to inform American law enforcement and that the campaign chairman was actively promoting Russian interests in Ukraine.”
Most important, for me and my thousands of brethren in the press? Thanks to this report, we are finding that 99 percent of everything the working press reported over these past two years is TRUE.
As the press continues to do its job and meticulously dissembles the report’s contents, it will only get worse for Trump.
It is clear there will only be one headline to sum up this sad time in American history:
TRUMP IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE