There was incredible lack of pushback from the media at Trump's COVID-19 rally on Friday, after he'd tweeted that three states with Democratic governors needed to "liberate" themselves.
April 18, 2020

In today's episode of "Everything Old Is New Again," we tackle astroturfing, gaslighting, and media complicity. The protests in mainly Democratically-led states (Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia) against stay-at-home orders aren't grassroots movements by your average Joe. They're bought and paid for by the wealthiest GOP, like organizations with close ties to Betsy DeVos. It's like 2000 and 2009 all over again. (Oh, hi, Brooks Brothers riot, and Tea Party!)

Of course, Trump supports it, because as he shrugged so eloquently in one of his interminable briefings, "I dunno, they seem to like ME..." Yes, there were MAGA flags aplenty at these protests wherein braindead GOP cultists demanded the right to go back to work before safety measures could be established, because dammit, they are willing to die for that paycheck, and who cares if they bring the COVID back home to Grammy and Pop-pop?

MAGA flags, Confederate flags, and you guessed it — flags with swastikas, too.

The Tyrannical Turdtrail just ate that up, of course, and in support of his suicidal and murderous fans, tweeted his encouragement on Friday:

Well. That seems alarming.

Probably most people in those states weren't aware that actions taken by governors, recommended by most in the medical field trying to save their lives was a form of oppression and/or persecution. But Trump, who respects language about as much as he respects law and the dosing instructions on his Sudafed boxes, wants the citizens of these states to commit insurrection. And use your guns! Mind you, the protestors didn't need that encouragement - they'd already arrived at their state capitols armed. Just to make sure there was no ambiguity about whether or not Trump supported that use of weaponry, though, he added it in his tweet about liberating Virginia.

Mary McCord, legal director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, argues in The Washnigton Post that not only are these tweets dangerous, they're illegal.

Liberate” — particularly when it’s declared by the chief executive of our republic — isn’t some sort of cheeky throwaway. Its definition is “to set at liberty,” specifically “to free (something, such as a country) from domination by a foreign power.”
In that context, it’s not at all unreasonable to consider Trump’s tweets about “liberation” as at least tacit encouragement to citizens to take up arms against duly elected state officials of the party opposite his own, in response to sometimes unpopular but legally issued stay-at-home orders.
It’s an echo of the “Second Amendment remedies” rhetoric of the 2010 midterm election. It’s clearly a violation of federalism principles, and it’s quite possibly a crime under federal law. And insurrection or treason against state government is a crime in Virginia, Michigan and Minnesota, as well as most states. Assembling with others to train or practice using firearms or other explosives for use during a civil disorder is also a crime in many states. But the president himself is calling for just that.

Regardless of whether the tweets are criminal on their own, more importantly, they are irresponsible and dangerous.

The press, though, has a daily opportunity to push back on such language and hold him accountable to their readers and viewers via Trump's alleged "briefings" on the COVID-19 situation. They're really just several hours of him free-associating and saying a bunch of second-grade-level gibberish. How did the reporters frame Trump's declarations?

Here's the first reporter:

REPORTER 1: So earlier today, Jay Inslee said your tweet encouraging liberation in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia were fomenting rebellion. I'm wondering how that squares with the sober and methodical guidance that you issued yesterday.

"Encouraging" liberation??? "Fomenting rebellion???" How does this square with your SOBER AND METHODICAL GUIDANCE??? As if these words coming out the reporter's own mouth described perfectly normal, every day things a president might encourage their citizens to do.

I can't help picturing the Nazi equivalent:

"So, Dr. Mengele, earlier today, Oskar Schindler said your tweets encouraging eugenics and experimental surgeries on Jewish children without anesthesia were (*air quotes*) cruel and amounted to (*air quotes*) war crimes. How do you square that with the sobering way you are able to sort out who goes directly to the gas chamber and who lives to work themselves to death and die of typhoid instead?"

Trump's answer was completely devoid of substance. Like, zero. He basically shrugged and said, Yeah, well, Virginia sucks.

TRUMP: I think we do have a sobering guidance, but I think some things are too tough. If you look at some of the states you just mentioned, it is too tough. Not only relative to this, but what they have done in Virginia with respect to the Second Amendment, it's just a horrible thing, they did a horrible thing. The governor, He is a governor under a cloud to start off with. When you see what he said about the Second Amendment, when you see what other states have done, no I think I feel very comfortable.


The next reporter follows up, but not to say, "Pardon me, Mr. President, but if I may, what the ever-loving f*ck do you think you're doing inciting armed rebellion?" Instead, it's to ask if Trump thinks those three states should lift the stay-at-home order. As in, should those governors give in to the armed mobs surrounding them, chanting "Lock Her Up!" about their governors, and defy all medical advice, allowing the disease to spread hither and yon so that his cronies' bank accounts can swell even more, yet all-but-ensuring more citizens would die?

To which Trump responded:

TRUMP: No, but I think elements of what they have done is just too much, because I have already said. But certainly the second amendment having to do with the state of Virginia, what they have done in Virginia is just incredible.

Again, I...argh. I can't anymore.

A third reporter follows up in the gentlest possible terms, using the softest language he could:

REPORTER 3: Are you concerned, though, that people coming out in protests are going to spread COVID to other people? They're congregating in ways that health experts have said they should not?

"Concerned?" "Congregating in ways that health experts have said they should not?" Oh, you mean does Trump care they're carrying signs with swastikas while they potentially infect others with a deadly virus, and also bring weapons of mass destruction to these emotional rallies, too? Might those all be things adverse to one's health? Come ON, man, I know reporters are supposed to stay neutral, but they are also supposed to be accurate and call things what they are.

TRUMP: No, these are people expressing their views. I have seen where they are, and I see the way they're working. They seem to be very responsible people to me. But they've been treated a little bit rough.

Verrrry responsible. Killing themselves and others to own the libs. We shouldn't treat them too rough.

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