The mainstream press has so far ignored House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to label Congressional Republicans and members of the Trump Administration “enemies of the state,” despite providing wall-to-wall coverage of President Trump’s use of the term “the enemy of the American People” to describe the press in 2017.
Pelosi, appearing Monday with Ayman Mohyeldin of MSNBC, said that Republicans were “enemies of the state” during a discussion over election security amid a Congressional debate over additional funding for the Postal Service. Trump has repeatedly claimed that the November election could be “rigged” and crippled by “fraud” ahead of an expected surge in mailed ballots.
“We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And, sadly, the domestic enemies to our voting system and honoring our Constitution are right at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their allies in the Congress of the United States,” she stated.
Republicans immediately denounced the remarks. “I was shot because of this kind of unhinged rhetoric,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise warned. Representative Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) said the comments were “gross and divisive,” while Senator Kelly Loeffler called them “absolutely appalling.”
But so far, the allegation of treason, leveled by the highest ranking House Democrat against her colleagues, has only been picked up by Fox News, the New York Post, and other conservative outlets. Politico’s heralded “Playbook,” which curates the day’s stories, didn’t mention the incident. CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC News, and others in the mainstream have also failed to provide coverage. The same outlets devoted countless news reports and opinion columns to Trump’s use of similar rhetoric — albeit against the media and not his political opposition — in 2017.
After Trump’s tweet — his first use of the term “enemy of the people,” to describe the press — the media rushed to defend itself.
I've covered foreign countries where free media declared the enemy: China, Russia, Zimbabwe, Myanmar & more. Not language I've heard at home https://t.co/7uaDXLoHDL
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) February 17, 2017
Hard to read this twice posted tweet other than as incitement to vigilante violence https://t.co/NfCQeyyCts
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 17, 2017
“#NotTheEnemy” trended on Twitter. In a news report, the Times called the allegation “a striking escalation” and likened it to “the language of autocrats who seek to minimize dissent.”
Then-New York Magazine national affairs editor Gabriel Sherman warned it was “full-on dictator speak.”
The Washington Post assured its readers that neither description was “being pedantic,” before going on to explain how the term was used in the past by the Nazi, Stalinist, and Maoist regimes.
“The language of an aspiring tyrant,” Atlantic contributor and dean of John Hopkins’s School of Advanced International Studies Eliot Cohen tweeted. “And no, not a joke, and not an exaggeration, and not a thought spasm from a disordered intellect.”
McClatchey pointed out that “Trump has tweeted 15 times using the terms ‘fake news’ or ‘fake media’” in that month alone.
A CNN roundtable decried the remarks.
“I think it’s a little bit dangerous, when you start — as the president of the United States, the most important person in the free world — to describe us as the ‘enemy of the American people,’” Ryan Lizza, then with the New Yorker, stated. “There are a lot of people who are not stable out there, and when they see a president that they respect and admire calling a certain segment of the population ‘the enemy,’ it can encourage someone to do something stupid.”
But this time around, the press has been less eager to scrutinize the potential effects. Mohyeldin’s response to Pelosi’s accusation? “Wow.”