Imaginary enemies exert the greatest power in politics; they exercise the mob into hysterical frenzy. In interwar Europe, the nation’s plotting villain was Judea-Bolshevism. Germany, Poland, Hungary, and numerous other nations, busied their minds with seditious Jews that were foot-soldiers of amoral Communism, ceaselessly calculating the immediate dissolution of Christian values and the corruption of the nation. Bolshevism was a godless wrecking-ball orchestrated by the timeless agent provocateur, the Jew. This racist myth was powerful and had terrific staying power. Hitler was enthralled to the idea and possessed a pathological commitment to the total destruction of communism and European Jewry.
The dictator maintained this lie with fanatical consistency. Although entirely untrue, events lent themselves to Hitler’s dark fantasy. In 1933, a young Dutch Communist named Marinus van der Lubbe set the Reichstag Fire ablaze. Ever the opportunist, Hitler enthusiastically embraced the idea that the parliament’s destruction evidenced what he had always professed: the Communists were intent on destroying Germany. Emboldened by his insight, Hitler cynically exploited the fire to consolidate his power.
Should Buzzfeed have had the faintest grasp of history, they would have erred on the side of caution and delayed the release of unverifiable documents. Since the American Primaries, Trump has constructed a powerful imagined enemy – the press. Trump and is wagon of political hyenas maintained with goose-stepping consistency that the mainstream press has orchestrated an elaborate conspiracy against the billionaire. In May 2016, a close aide of Trump, Roger Stone declared that CNN “was not a news organisation but an advocacy group.” and that “When Trump is President, he should turn off their FCC license.” Trump has repeatedly attacked the media and taken excessive measures to ensure only positive stories are aired. The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Atlantic, Buzzfeed, The Daily Beast, and the Huffington Post have all had journalists banned from Trump events. His limitless thuggery extended to unprecedented legal threats; the bullish plutocrat promised to change the libel laws when he became president, an audacious authoritarian manoeuvre that would provide the opportunity to gag the press.
The media conspiracy is part of a broader strategy; the corrupt establishment. The media have been portrayed as puppets of the liberal order, an integral part in an intricate spoke that has mobilizied against him and his followers in order to protect the establishment. At the centre of this rear-guard action were the Clintons, through years of concentrated cunning they ruled the political swamp. The Arkansas dynasty pulled one lever and CNN beamed a gross smear about Trump; they pulled another and PBS broadcast another terrific slander. The dreamed-up whispering campaign was an omnipresent feature of the Trump campaign and was a crucial factor in his success. It was part of the broader mosaic; he was the underdog speaking on behalf of a voiceless people against privileged elite that were corrupt and committed to preserving their position. Media complicity in establishment corruption is a central idea in Trumpism.
Buzzfeed gives succour to Trump’s myth making;the left-wing news-website appears oblivious to this defining feature of Trumpism. Perhaps they are aware of the traits of Trumpism but are unaware that they are potentially feeding the destructive myth. In their haste Buzzfeed may contribute to worsening the state of affairs and hardening the myth. Hiding behind the digital idealism of “we will let the people decide from themselves” is insufficient reason for political recklessness. Corroboration is sacrosanct precisely because such disclosures are loaded with earth-shattering political consequences. When the Washington Post exposed the Watergate Affair and Richard Nixon’s authoritarian leanings, they did so by weight of evidence. Under a barrage of bomb-proof sources, the President had no available retreat and was promptly impeached. When the Boston Globe declared the Catholic Church an international paedophile ring it done so by the unquestionable sincerity and granite solid testimony of hundreds of witnesses. When Glen Greenwald and Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s colossal thievery they done so with the support of terabytes of information. Buzzfeeds’s amazing accusations are unsubstantiated and hard to impossible to verify.
That salient point can be easily exploited; it fits squarely into the narrative of a corrupt media on perpetual guard of the establishment swamp. Buzzfeed’s rage for President-elect may have blurred their ethical vision; they were intent on shooting the Trump campaign down prior to his arrival in the White House. To pull the trigger, however, through a distorted lens invites misfire and calamity. That is precisely why journalistic ethics are vital to a healthy political society; once they lose the moral high ground the media lose all intellectual authority. That is why the New York Times, The Guardian, and the Washington Post refused to print the leaked document – it leaves these important institutions naked to accusations that they are no better than Trump.
Should the Reichstag Fire teach us anything, it is that this slip in journalistic ethics can be exploited with mouth-watering malice. With Trump insisting that CNN and Buzzfeed “are going to feel the consequences” Trump is now potentially poised to fulfil his desire to permanently muzzle the media.