For two years Trump has assailed the major media as the purveyor of “fake news.” His aim is obviously to delegitimize and defang the news outlets that exposed the crimes, pervasive corruption, and disastrous policies of his administration. Up to now he has had some success in this effort, but not yet able to register a knockout blow of the “fake news” media. Many major news outlets still oppose him and much of the public isn’t buying what he is selling.
But herein lies the danger of the present moment. The decision of Attorney General Barr to issue a letter over the weekend that exonerates Trump from any wrongdoing before the full report of the Mueller investigation sees the light of day, smells purposive, preemptive and undemocratic. In taking this unprecedented action ahead of possible dissenting voices who weren’t (and still aren’t) privy to the report, Barr set the table for Trump to unleash his right wing authoritarian dogs in high and low places not only to cast him as innocent victim, but also to cement in public opinion, delegitimize the “liberal media,” throw the Democratic Party and resistance movement on the defensive, and shape the conversation for next year’s election to Trump’s advantage. We shouldn’t do anything inadvertently to assist this effort, which, if successful, would be a body blow to democratic rule as well as an independent press and media.