David Frum: Trump’s a Punishment for Not Being Good Enough Citizens

‘When the president does these things, he empowers every thug, every dictator around the planet’

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STELTER: Although that story was embarrassing. 

Let me go to you, David Frum, on the subject of the G7, maybe now the G6. President Trump had this impromptu news conference yesterday. He seemed to be in a chatty mood, wanting to answer questions. When a CNN reporter asked him about his relationships with other countries, he said it was a 10, which is obviously not true as we learned later in the day.

But here’s how the president reacted with a cry of fake news. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who are you with? I’m curious.

REPORTER: CNN. 

TRUMP: I figured. Fake news, CNN. The worst, but I could tell by the — I had no idea you were CNN. After the question, I was just curious who you were with. You’re with CNN. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: David, how unusual is it for an American president to make fun of the press or criticized the press not just when he’s home but also when he’s abroad? 

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: When the president does these things, he empowers every thug, every dictator around the planet. You know, to your very first question about news fatigue, if your child is feverishly ill, it can be very fatiguing to sit by her bedside and take care of her but it’s what you do, because that’s your duty and that’s — I think your responsibility and it’s also a source of satisfaction to you. 

If your country is ill, you have the same responsibility. You know, there may be things that news rooms can do differently or better to help people keep better track of the stories, but it’s also your responsibility as a citizen. You can’t put your responsibilities on the press and say, why didn’t you make this easier for me, more entertaining? Why didn’t you make the news less frightening than it really is? I would like a different truth please. 

The job of the press is to tell you the truth as it is, whether it’s good news or not. And then it’s your responsibility as a patriot and a citizen to accept it and to internalize it and to act on it. You know, in many ways, we got Donald Trump in the first place as a punishment for not being good enough citizens and our ability to mitigate the harm he’s going to do to institutions, to alliances, to the security of the world will depend on our — as individuals, willingness to do to be better citizens in the future, and that means being informed citizens. That’s not on the press.

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