Email #205: “Classy move”?

According to press secretary Spicer, the President’s tweets “are considered official statements by the President of the United States.” If so, President Trump’s official statements of the last two weeks are especially concerning.

June 13:

“Fake News is at an all time high. Where is their apology to me for all of the incorrect stories???”

June 15:

“Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?”

“Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?”

“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA”

“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice”

“After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my “collusion with the Russians,” nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!”

June 16:

“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt”

June 19:

“The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt.”

June 22:

“…Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election). It’s all a big Dem HOAX!”

June 25:

“Hillary Clinton colluded with the Democratic Party in order to beat Crazy Bernie Sanders. Is she allowed to so collude? Unfair to Bernie!”

June 26:

“The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling. With 4 months looking at Russia…

…under a magnifying glass, they have zero “tapes” of T people colluding. There is no collusion & no obstruction. I should be given apology!”

“The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win..

…and did not want to “rock the boat.” He didn’t “choke,” he colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and Crooked Hillary no good.”

June 27:

“From @FoxNews “Bombshell: In 2016, Obama dismissed idea that anyone could rig an American election.” Check out his statement – Witch Hunt!”

June 28:

“The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don’t even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke”

June 29:

“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..

…to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

Other Republicans have condemned the President. Senator Graham responded yesterday:

“Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.”

Speaker Ryan also responded:

“Obviously, I don’t see that as an appropriate comment. Look, what we’re trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate, and this obviously doesn’t help do that.”

Could you please clarify which if any of these “official statements” you consider to be appropriate?

Do you, for instance, believe news stories that report negatively on the President are fabricated? Do you feel the President deserves multiple apologies? Would you characterize investigations into Russian interference and possible Trump campaign collusion as a “witch hunt”? Is it possible to conclude that the investigations, none of which have been completed let alone issued reports, have found no evidence? Since all of the investigative committees are chaired by Republicans, how can they be a hoax by the Democratic party? In what sense did President Obama “collude” or “obstruct”? Do you know what “dealings with Russia” by “Dems” the President is referring to?

I do know of one instance of a major news source reporting incorrectly on a collusion investigation. Last week CNN posted an online article about a member of the President’s transition team, Anthony Scaramucci, meeting in January with the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Though it’s not clear what the article got wrong, CNN retracted it the next day, fired the author, an assistant managing editor, and head of the investigations unit, and then issued an apology to Scaramucci, who tweeted in response:

“@CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on.”

Are these the actions of a “fake news” organization participating in a “hoax” and “witch hunt”?

I also know of only one “phony story.” Donald Trump appears on the cover of a 2009 Time magazine with the headline: “Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” He framed the cover and displayed it at several of his golf resorts. But Time recently requested that the displays be removed because the cover is fake, even though the President bragged about it last July: “I think I was on the cover of Time magazine twice in my life” before entering politics. He had appeared only once, in 1989.

Since you pledged to “check executive overreach” on the morning after the election, why are you not responding to the President’s repeated use of misinformation? You also said this month that we should “disagree without being disagreeable” and that “it is more important now than ever that we as a nation work even harder to maintain a civil discourse,” and yet you say nothing about how the President is contributing to our “decline in civil discourse.”

Worse, your silence communicates agreement with both the content and tone of his “official statements.” You are failing to check the executive branch and you are failing to promote civil discourse.  You are not doing your job and you are not living up to your own stated principles.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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