Trump’s InfoWars presidency, and what it means for the media

Rushing to the defense of dangerous, extremist voices that were banned from Facebook and Instagram last week, Donald Trump made his boldest declaration yet that his presidency is permanently tied to America’s white nationalist, anti-Muslim movement. Nearly two years after Trump refused to categorically denounce neo-Nazis who rioted in Charlottesville, Virginia, he’s making his proud allegiance known to everyone. It’s a stunning move for any American politician to make, let alone the person sitting in the Oval Office.

In doing so, Trump once again is daring the press to tell the truth about his hateful, radical ways. Once again, Trump is ripping up all the norms of decent behavior and betting that the press won’t be completely honest with news consumers about what’s unfolding in plain view: The president of the United States is embracing dangerous, fringe players who push violent rhetoric that’s getting people killed.

There should be no ambiguity in the coverage of Trump’s radical outreach to those who may be inspiring domestic terrorists. Journalists need to ditch passive, timid headline language about how he’s endorsing “far-right activists” and “far-right voices,” nebulous phrases that in this specific case do almost nothing to capture the deeply repugnant and dangerous behavior of Trump’s online allies and help normalize the worst elements of American society.

Question: If a Democratic president had ever spent a morning tweeting out support for 9/11 truthers and hateful online players who warned of a creeping and violent Jewish conspiracy in America, do you think the news headlines would have described those voices merely as “far-left activists”? I certainly don’t.

Speaking with Jared Holt, a reporter and researcher at Right Wing Watch who documents the right-wing underworld, he told me a more accurate and useful type of headline over the weekend would have been: “Trump goes to bat for dangerous conspiracy theorists.”

I’d suggest a couple of other options, including:

“Trump goes to bat for dangerous white nationalists,” and “Trump goes to bat for radical fringe voices who promote violence.”

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