At a Trump campaign rally in Ohio two of the Trump supporters called out to the journalist filming that rally that he was “lugenpresse”. A term used by the Nazis to condemn any newspaper or journalist that did not toe the party line . Especially newspapers owned by Jews. The epithet aimed at any newspaper that criticized the Nazi Party. Or failed to bow down to the Fuhrer. “Lying press”.
On Sunday Kellyanne Conway did her weekly news “alternative fact” show, this time in an interview with Chris Wallace. While not using the term, she echoed the sentiments of the “lugenpresse” when she wondered aloud why many members of the press had not been fired. Why? For their coverage of Donald Trump.
She wondered why these members of the press were not dismissed by their bosses. Why they continued to appear on talk shows and give their opinions. Why are they not being silenced?
One of the first things the Nazis did when they gained control of Germany was to intimidate and suppress the free press. I say “gained control” because the Nazis never won the popular vote in a free election. They were always a minority party. Hitler was able to get only 32% of the vote for president in the last free election in Germany, with massive support from the rural areas.
Once the Nazis did gain power they were quick to use it to suppress any opposition. Key to that was the free press. Communist newspapers. Jewish-owned newspapers. Independent newspapers were quickly brought under the control of the new regime. By intimidation.
The “lugenpresse” were any newspapers or journalists who dared contradict the Nazi facts. The Nazi “alternative facts”. Control of the media was seen as crucial to ultimate control of the nation.The opposition, no matter how slight, must be silenced. Real news must not be reported. Facts must not be reported. An “alternative ” reality must be established with Goebbels deciding what is acceptable. The idea that the press must be the mouthpiece of the government was the goal. And , for the most part, it was.
Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon are testing the waters. Attacking the press. Calling for the removal of those who dare criticize. Calling for a ban on people of the Muslim faith based on an idea that Muslims are all terrorists and all alike. Mr Trump calling into question the actual photographic evidence of the crowd size at his inauguration. An attempt to bully the leader of Mexico into paying for a wall that Trump wants to build. The first “press conference” with Sean Spicer, Mr Trump’s spokesman, was an attack on the press. And the attack ended with Spicer walking off refusing to answer questions. The message was clear. We will control the press. We cannot allow any contradictions or criticisms.
An all out attack on the facts, evidence and common sense. An “alternative” reality compete with “alternative facts”
They are testing the waters to see how far they can go. Can they bully the press into silence? Can they bully our neighbor into compliance? Can they bully the American people into subservience? Can they bully the GOP controlled Congress into silence?
I think not. (Well, maybe they CAN bully Congress). The USA in 2017 is not Germany in 1933. The US citizens in 2017 are not going to sit back while Muslims are treated harshly and Mexicans are stereotyped and the free press is under attack. And the press is not going to roll over to an alternative reality.
The Trump folks are testing the waters to see how far they can go. Those waters will get hot very quickly.
(Note: The most thorough set of books on the Nazi rise to power is the trilogy by Richard J Evans. The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power and The Third Reich at War)