In Minneapolis, a real — and dangerous — war on the press
One of the most unseemly spectacles during the Trump presidency has been the media's claim that Trump's daring to challenge their fake narratives puts them at risk of life and limb. Anyone who's witnessed what happens to journalists trying to function under actual despots, such as Putin or Erdoğan, knows that being insulted by a president exercising his right to free speech is a different animal from being imprisoned, tortured, or murdered.
It's an open question whether the rise of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, two truly totalitarian organizations, will change how the media view Trump. I say this because hundreds of protesters swarmed the house of police union chief Bob Kroll and his wife, journalist Liz Collin. That's frightening enough. What made it scarier was the fact that they brought with them piñatas of Collins and Kroll, which they then attacked and destroyed.
A slight recap of the "fake news" narrative is in order. For years, the media have pushed the Russia collusion hoax and the Charlottesville "fine people" hoax. Indeed, regarding the Russia collusion hoax, here's a screenshot from Tuesday's online New York Times strongly insinuating that a Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia:
There's only one way to interpret those headlines: Trump colluded! Except that this insinuation is false. Here's how the Committee actually summarized Tuesday's release (emphasis in original):
[T]he Committee found no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government in its efforts to meddle in the election.
[A]fter more than three years of investigation by this Committee, we can now say with no doubt, there was no collusion.
For the fake news at the Times, truth is irrelevant; what matters is the insinuation on the homepage.
You can find endless examples of journalists claiming that Trump's calling them out is a totalitarian tactic intended to kill them and end American democracy. (See here, here, and here.) None of them can claim that Trump uses the power of his office to spy upon journalists (as Obama did), or to imprison, torture, or kill them. The journalists are acting out a narcissistic drama unrelated to facts.
But in Minneapolis, the threat against at least one journalist is genuine and frightening:
Protesters who held a demonstration outside the home of Minneapolis police union chief Bob Kroll and his wife, WCCO reporter Liz Collin, have been condemned by some Twin Cities media members and state lawmakers after video showed them destroying a piñata of Collin's likeness.
The video from Saturday's protest came to wider attention of the Twin Cities media when it was shared by former Minnesota GOP Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb on Monday, showing piñatas of both Collin and Kroll being destroyed outside their Hugo home.
Kroll has been the subject of numerous protests since the death of George Floyd, with activists seeing his tenure as the head of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis as a barrier to addressing systemic problems within Minneapolis Police Department.
But Collin has also been the subject of protest outside WCCO's office in downtown Minneapolis, with activists criticizing the station for both her marriage to Kroll and her involvement in stories concerning the police, claiming it's a conflict of interests [sic].
Any history student knows that mobs start with destroying people in effigy and end by destroying them for real. Moreover, the protest outside Collin's' and Kroll's house was a frightening one, with John Thompson, a candidate for the state assembly, hurling maddened threats:
A video clip of his speech shows him saying "You think we give a [expletive] about burning Hugo [the suburb in which Collins and Kroll live] down?" In another, he says "[Expletive] Hugo."
For America's so-called journalists, though, facts no longer matter. The only thing that matters is the narrative, and it will probably take many unpleasant interactions with the mob before the media wise up to the fact that Trump's not their problem.
Image: White House photographers, early 1920s, in the Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication.