Evidently, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has decided to make as much absurdist noise as possible before he retires with the U.S. Constitution in tatters in his wake, and his life-long, taxpayer-paid pension in hand.
On the January 14 edition of ABC’s “This Week,” Flake claimed that Donald Trump’s calling out of the dinosaur media as “Fake News” was -- get this -- Stalinesque.
“You can talk about crowd size, and this is pretty innocuous if there’s a falsehood. But when you reflexively refer to the press as the ‘enemy of the people’ or ‘fake news,’ that has real damage… It has real damage to our standing in the world. And I noted how bad it is for a president to take what was popularized by Joseph Stalin, the ‘enemy of the people,’ to refer to the press.”
That’s a lot of foot to fit into one’s mouth.
First, as a guy who didn’t vote for Mr. Trump (or anyone, for that matter), I might point out that the fabled comparison image of Trump’s small inauguration crowd and Obama’s massive one was unfair, and proven so by reporter Lee Ann McAdoo. She explained to millions that the photo of Trump’s crowd was taken early in the morning, before the majority of attendees in the crowd arrived. Perhaps Mr. Flake was too busy with other matters. And perhaps Mr. Trump was…right.
But a larger matter is that of Flake comparing Trump to Josef Stalin for Trump’s valid criticism of purveyors of proven untruths such as CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, PBS. This comparison isn't merely wrong, it's insultingly hyperbolic.
In his groundbreaking book, “The Great Terror,” Robert Conquest pinned the number of people exterminated by “Uncle Joe” Stalin at 20 million. But that mind-boggling number is low. In fact, Conquest’s analysis was for only a portion of the time period during which Stalin and his pals (including Lenin) were murdering people. The real number is closer to an estimated 42 to 51 million (including the Ukrainian genocide and the deaths in the gulags). And, during that long period of extermination, Stalin continued the boot-on-face attack on the press his pal Nikolai Lenin began in 1917. Let’s quote Lenin from 1920 to remind Mr. Flake of what suppression of journalists is like:
Why should freedom of speech and freedom of the press be allowed? Why should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be criticized? It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. Why should any man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinions calculated to embarrass the government?
Stalin, like Lenin, directed his secret police to capture and kill multitudes simply for the basic human transgression of trying to offer truth that might conflict with the state or those promoting the agenda of the state.
To portray Mr. Trump’s justified and merely verbal criticism of fake news as "Stalinesque" simply because he's a politician, or because Mr. Flake doesn’t like what he's saying or believes it serves a greater purpose to criticize the whistleblower rather than the culprits, is shocking and brazenly vile.
Was Mr. Flake vocal during President Obama’s unprecedented use of the Espionage Act against journalists and whistleblowers? Did he speak out when Mr. Obama used the Act to shut down journalism more often than all other presidents combined?
There came the sound of crickets from Flake’s office, while the government actually did use force to suppress speech.
And what’s almost poetically ironic about this kind of double-standard and drivel from Mr. Flake is that he is one of the big-shots in the U.S. government who last year voted for a Stalinesque bill that actually does give the central government the power to go after journalists it labels “propaganda” and use $160 million in taxpayer cash to bail out dinosaur journalists who are losing to the new media – and who lie over and over and over.
This bill was called the “Portman-Murphy Anti-Propaganda Act.” It was pushed early in 2016 by Senators Rob “Free Speech” Portman (R- Ohio) and Chris “Muzzle” Murphy (D-Conn.), promoted by Obama later that year when he blathered about the world needing a “truthiness” test, supported by an artificial “Russian Propaganda” narrative pushed by a group called “Prop-or-Not”, and also pushed by the Bezos-owned, CIA-connected Washington Post.
Married to the House version (H.R. 5181), the “Portman-Murphy Anti-Propaganda Act” would not only let the feds shower money on dying news outlets the public has shunned, it would task federal intel agencies to target “foreign propaganda” online and go after it, using federally approved “facts” to counter the news the feds don’t like.
And last year, websites like Ron Paul’s were labeled “Russian Propaganda” by the Washington Post. Talk about absurdist.
Related: MRC's Bozell Hammers 'Intellectual Fraud' Flake
So, who treats journalists with direct aggression and favoritism? Would that be Mr. Flake, who supported rolling Portman-Murphy into the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year? Or would it be Donald Trump, who merely states -- sometimes recklessly, sometimes laughably -- that certain networks or reporters aren’t telling the truth?
And which does more to harm “our” standing in the world: a senator voting for the U.S. to engage in military campaigns across the world despite no Declaration of War being made, or Trump calling out media outlets for lies?
Senator Flake will have plenty of time to ponder the answers in retirement after he’s left the Constitution in shreds, and while he is enjoying the pension taxpayers provide.
(Cover Photo: Gage Skidmore)