“They are the fake, fake, disgusting news…These people back here, these horrible, horrendous people.”—President Donald Trump, August 2, 2018.
It strikes me that we should just stop aiding and abetting.
Indications are, after all, that quite enough of that’s gone on already.
Since the president insists on taking potshots at the Fourth Estate, allow me to suggest that perhaps its members should just stop making themselves such obvious targets of opportunity.
There is something to be said, you know, for not willfully placing one’s self in harm’s way.
Besides, the press exists to report the news, not be the news, and that is fast what is happening, courtesy of a deliberate strategy by the 45th President of the United States..
That’s what happened in Trump’s “rally” in Pennsylvania last Thursday—some 20-odd attacks on the press, its members assembled as they are at such events, all in one enclosed area. And seeking some relief after that, I did a bit a channel surfing, before encountering an old acquaintance—the 1956 black-and-white, primarily Japanese film, “Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”—and it gave me the idea for this column.
We have, as they say, a history, “Godzilla” and I.
I think I must have been about 8 years old by the time that movie made its way to the Paramount Theater in Clarksdale, where I watched it one Sunday afternoon after services at the effectively non-denominational Coahoma United Methodist Church and lunch at Sam’s Cafeteria. And while it seems pretty corny and campy now, it just plain scared the bejesus out of the going-on-60-year-ago me.
For anyone who has not seen “the original Godzilla,” it starred a then young Canadian actor named Raymond Burr, soon to be of Perry Mason fame, as a reporter (column theme alert) investigating a series of deadly strange events in and around Tokyo, Japan. Every other character was Japanese, except for an 80-foot-tall, amphibious, atomic breath fire-breathing, local legend come true dinosaur-like monster, which most unfortunately for my several month sleep patterns, with just a little imagination, looked exactly like the large tree immediately outside my bedroom window, after nightfall.
(My on-the-way-to-being rational mind knew better, but when the wind blew a little and the shadows from that tree’s limb’s flickered, Godzilla was right outside the window, baby.)
So, how did a bad old 1950s Japanese paper mache monster movie inspire a column about politics and the press? The way it ends. The way they slay the dragon, if you will.
They finally kill Godzilla, who has proved impervious to all conventional weaponry and who has effectively trampled Tokyo, by employing a conveniently just-invented device called an “oxygen destroyer” which removed all the oxygen from Tokyo Bay, where the creature was sleeping until his next night on the town.
In political terms, they sucked all the air out of the room.
And that is just exactly what I think my journalistic brethren should do in dealing with the critter attacking them.
Trump is using the traveling press as his foils. We are the tinder he is using to start and then stoke the fires of anger and resentment and out-and-out hatred (“enemies of the people”) among the devotees who show up at his self-serving and self-energizing rallies—thereby producing the energy, dangerously negative as it is, that Trump both feeds off and sees become self-perpetuating when it is subsequently reported.
So let’s quit making ourselves targets and let’s quit giving him the ammunition with which to shoot us.
Let’s quit covering his rallies en masse. Let’s agree among ourselves, as we do for other “availabilities” (Air Force One, golf clubs, etc.) to send a pool reporter and a pool photographer and no TV cameras for a while.
Fires go out when deprived of oxygen, so let’s deprive Trump’s hateful fires with the oxygen they need—our presence.
There’s no news coming out of these “rallies,” anyway, there is only the same old campaign rhetoric, spiced with ever outrageous lies and ever incited riot-quality anger that sooner or later is going to get somebody just trying to do his or her job hurt.
We really are aiding and abetting this guy, you know.
We really are playing into his hands.
And there really is something to be said for not placing one’s self in harm’s way. The Raymond Burr character reporting on Godzilla in the movie almost gets killed by him.
So just think: We almost didn’t have Perry Mason. No need in pushing our luck.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.