Heaven help me, but I watched the unhinged Brian Stelter’s show “Reliable Sources” on CNN on Sunday morning. From the very beginning of his opening monologue, I was shaking my head and smiling because the topic was President Trump’s supposed authoritarianism. My immediate reaction was that he “forgot” Obama’s remarks in 2014 that he had a “pen and a phone” to move forward on his agenda. Note that the headline in this NPR article posted at the time was, “With a Pen and a Phone, Obama Goes It Alone.” I imagine that the headline writer thought that little rhyme was clever, but isn’t that headline the essence of political authoritarianism – “going it alone”?

Getting back to Stelter, as he began his monologue, the graphics in the background showed legacy media stories with the word “authoritarian” highlighted from four reliable leftwing outlets: The Washington Post, The Atlantic, the Independent, and New York Magazine. Here was the snippet from the Independent that CNN flashed: “I spoke to experts on authoritarian rule about Trump’s behavior this week. They say 2020 could be our last free election.” The other clips were similar.

Throughout the first part of Stelter’s monologue, the chryon at the bottom of the screen read, “Experts see signs of ‘creeping authoritarianism.’” This is the standard tactic employed by the Democrat-media complex for decades – a continuing direct application of Saul Alinsky’s Rule #13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” The rest of his monologue was his weak attempt to prove that the premise of the chryon was indeed true by quoting “experts.” Here are some excerpts of his monologue with my comments along the way debunking his claims:

Stelter (introducing his show): … but first, the aspiring autocrat and the media’s response. As this banner on Fox says, “President Trump Unleashed.” And that’s why there are growing fears of something called “democratic backsliding.” [A definition was provided on the screen behind him: “The state-led debilitation or elimination of the political institutions sustaining an existing democracy.”] This is the term used in political science … the term used to describe the erosion of institutions that sustain democracy. Another way of putting it is “creeping authoritarianism” – a move toward autocracy. Now that’s a word we increasingly see being tied to President Trump.

Me: “Increasingly”? Please. The Democrat-media have been accusing the President of authoritarianism and being a dictator since he was inaugurated, and they return to the accusation whenever the President succeeds in delivering on a policy promise that they don’t like. Here’s a Politico article from March 2017 summarizing “Trump’s dictatorial style.” Here’s one from Fortune in April 2017 accusing the President of mimicking the dictatorial styles of Middle East dictators. But my “favorite” is this December 2017 CNBC article in which George Soros calls the President a “would-be dictator.” That’s laughable!

Stelter continued: You see it in some of these headlines from the past week. … Now a lot of these are opinion columns … perspective pieces … but these are important and complicated concepts. My question is, how can the nation’s news media make time and space to explain this. I mean, we live in this new story-every-minute saturated world, but this may be the biggest story of them all.

Me: He’s kidding, right? I mean, how much ink has been devoted by the legacy media over the past three years in article after article that rail against the President’s supposed authoritarianism? Frankly, I think they’re responding to his style and willingness to counter-attack against false allegations in the Democrat-run media, as well as his success in implementing his promises despite massive resistance.

Stelter continued: So what are the best ways to cover it. Well, one of the best ways is with a list. Harvard professor Steven Walt has been keeping a list since 2016: 10 Ways to Tell if Your President Is a Dictator. He wasn’t saying Trump was a dictator, but he was watching for troubling signs. He revisited the list this week [and placed check-marks on those items in the list in which President Trump has exhibited the behavior described – in his opinion]. He said after impeachment, the President has been passing most of the checkpoints on the way to authoritarianism. On his list are things like fear-mongering – demonizing the opposition and using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents. Does that sound familiar?

Me: I’ll answer your rhetorical question, Stelter. Damn straight it sounds familiar because that is exactly what we witnessed during the eight long years of the Obama regime. You conveniently “forgot” Obama stating this during his 2008 campaign: “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” And that was just the start of his divisiveness and fear-mongering throughout his presidency. Obama was also the king of corporate cronyism and weaponizing the federal bureaucracy against his political opponents, as previously detailed here. He makes sweeping allegations against President Trump without a shred of evidence, yet he ignores – as just one example – the Horowitz report on FISA abuse by Obama’s FBI and DoJ.

Stelter continued: Look, forms of government exist on a spectrum. It’s not just democracy or dictatorship. It’s not just black or white. There are dozens of shades of grey. That’s why political scientists talk about democratic backsliding. It’s important to recognize that some people are predisposed to a certain amount of authoritarian thinking. This shows up all the time in polling. Some people feel that there is too much democracy, and they seek a so-called “strong leader” (a video clip playing in the background showing President Trump walking with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un) … a strong man who will protect our way of life and punish our enemies. These people have an outside fear of threats and a desire to take action against those threats. That feeling has always been there. Most Americans don’t have it, but it’s always been there. …

Me: The Left always talk about “our democracy,” but they ignore the fact that we have a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy. The Founders fully understood that a pure democracy leads straight to autocracy – a “tyranny of the majority” as they put it – and implemented a system of checks and balances within the US Constitution to preclude the centralization of power – autocracy, if you will – in any of the three branches of government. And the system has served us extremely well for over 230 years, despite attempts by leftists such as Stelter and his pals to undermine the Constitution and Bill of Rights by, for example, seeking to abolish the Electoral College, as described and debunked here.

Stelter continued: Experts in this field are always careful to say that these challenges to democracy did not start with Trump’s election. But, as the group Freedom House put it, “Trump has assailed essential institutions and traditions including the separation of powers, a free press, an independent judiciary, the impartial deliver of justice, safeguards against corruption, and most disturbingly, the legitimacy of elections.” And Congress hasn’t pushed back enough.

Me: I read the rest of that Freedom House article from which the above was extracted. The screed could just as easily have been written by Tom Perez at the DNC or any other Democrat hacktivist – filled with innuendo and accusations that boil down to policy disagreements with the President. The chairman of the board at Freedom House is anti-Trumper and globlist Michael Chertoff from the Bush 43 administration. Michael Abramowitz, who wrote that article, is the president of Freedom House and was formerly the national editor and then White House correspondent for the Washington Post (!) and currently is a member of the globalist-minded Council on Foreign Relations. Yeah, that’s an objective article to cite, Brian (not!).

Stelter contined: So let’s make our own list of this week’s news. First, separation of powers. Well, Trump has been challenging the legislative branch’s constitutional mandate of the power of the purse. He’s been diverting Pentagon money to build more border wall.

Me: By correctly declaring the open border a national security emergency, President Trump is within his Article II authority to divert funding to address that emergency. Pound sand, Brian; you just happen to disagree with the President’s objective of closing the border. Verdict on Stelter’s claim: false.

Stelter: How about the independent judiciary? Well, this week he attacked a federal judge [Amy Berman Jackson], the woman who will be sentencing his friend Roger Stone.

Me: The Obama-appointed Amy Berman Jackson is obviously politically corrupt, as she failed to purge the Stone jury of its overtly partisan foreman Tomeka Hart. If Stelter was truly concerned about an “independent judiciary” and by extension, impartial justice – he would join President Trump in his criticism of Jackson. Verdict on Stelter’s claim: false.

Stelter: The press. Well, of course, his proposed budget will not be enacted, and Congress is not actually going to go along with it, but once again this year, he is threatening to cut NPR’s funding and PBS’s funding and – this year – the military’s iconic “Stars and Stripes” newspaper.

Me: Public funding of NPR/PBS, Stars and Stripes, etc., might have made some sense in an earlier era when the number of media outlets were limited in number. But in an era where there are hundreds of cable TV channels and online blogsites (not to mention legacy media publications still extant) across the political spectrum, Stelter needs to explain why taxpayers should continue to fund any sort of journalism in America these days. Let the market dictate winners and losers like in most other human endeavors. Conservatives have been trying to cut PBS for decades. Just like past promises to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel were continually deferred, perhaps it will take the political outsider Donald Trump to finally deliver on the promise to defund PBS, too. Verdict on Stelter’s claim: false.

Stelter: Next, safeguards against corruption. Well, he has been smearing that Ukraine whistleblower and those who testified to the House.

Me: “Smearing the whistleblower”? That’s pretty rich, given that that whistleblower started the impeachment hoax with second-hand “evidence” – and yet did not even qualify as a whistleblower under the intelligence community’s own whistleblower statute. And “those who testified to the House” disagreed with the President’s Ukraine policy. As President, he has the sole responsibility to set foreign policy, as well as hire and fire people in the executive branch in order to effectively carry out his policies. Reassigning/firing those who testified is an ENTIRELY legal action having nothing to do with Stelter’s allegations of “corruption.” Verdict on Stelter’s claim: false.

Stelter: And as for impartial delivery of justice, look no further than his interference with the DoJ, tweeting about a proposed sentence from Roger Stone. And then Tuesday’s headline [in the NY Times], “4 U.S. Prosecutors Quite Stone Case After Bosses Step In to Overrule Them.” Remember, the Stone case is about lying and obstructing to protect Trump. Then this (paraphrased) NY Times headline from Wednesday, “Career Prosecutors Say They are Worried About What’s to Come.” Thursday [NY Times headline/article], AG Bill Barr talks to ABC and “rebuked Trump” for tweeting, and then Friday, the Times and other outlets report that Barr is quietly intervening in a series of politically-charged cases including the Flynn case. The [NY Times] headline here says, “Barr Quietly Acts to Tighten Leash in Political Cases.”

Me: Stelter thinks we’re all fools. He cites a NY Times political campaign over the past week to cast aspersions against President Trump. Stone was prosecuted for process crimes by Mueller’s goons, whose real objective was nailing President Trump on obstruction of justice. Those four prosecutors who resigned set up the whole farce by pushing enhanced sentencing in a memo to Amy Berman Jackson (!) that their superiors retracted and corrected virtually the very next day. The whole purpose of that original sentencing recommendation was to perpetrate a “crisis” leading to exactly the headlines/articles in the NY Times. There is plenty of evidence of “irregularities” in the cases overseen by Amy Berman Jackson against Trump associates, including Stone and Flynn. Having them reviewed by federal prosecutors outside the Washington DC political crucible is EXACTLY the right thing to do. Speaking of the Flynn case, perhaps Stelter should check out the latest defense filing in which SAUSA Van Grack is accused of suppressing evidence and other “irregularities”:

The President Trump’s tweets and public statements are OPINIONS, not directive actions; he makes them for POLITICAL reasons since he knows that all of these cases are as much POLITICAL (aimed at getting him) as they are about criminal activities. Finally, Stelter needs to review the multiple instances of Obama’s meddling in this Twitter thread, especially the Youtube video in the first tweet.

Verdict on Stelter’s claim: false.

Stelter: This – all of this – is democratic backsliding. It happens when the rule of law is eroded. It happens when a tough-on-crime president wants his government to just be tough on the opposition’s crimes. He also complains on Twitter that the “real crimes are on the other side.” Trump happily accuses his opponents of treason and other high crimes, suggesting awful penalties. This has become so normal that we barely blink an eye anymore.

Me: Thank God that President Trump does Tweet out his concerns – almost all of which about the cabal/conspiracy have been confirmed over time. Otherwise, we would be left to the likes of Stelter and the NY Times to bury the truth about FISA abuse, Spygate, the Russia collusion hoax, the Stone foreman, and other false allegations and attacks on President Trump by the Democrat-media complex over the past three-plus years. I note that Stelter didn’t actually deny that those crimes were committed; I think that – deep down – even he knows that the crimes are real. And yes, we don’t blink an eye anymore; that’s because we are all ready for the indictments and are impatient that they haven’t happened yet. Verdict on Stelter’s claim: false.

Stelter: So look at the 2018 book, How Democracies Die [by two leftwing Harvard political scientists, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt]. The book says, “Institutions become political weapons, wielded forcefully by those who control them against those who do not. This is how elected autocrats subvert democracy – packing and ‘weaponizing’ the courts and other neutral agencies, buying off the media and the private sector (or bullying them into silence) and rewriting the rules of politics to tilt the playing field against opponents. … The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy – gradually, subtly, and even legally – to kill it.”

Me: Stelter cites yet another leftwing source for his vitriolic claims of “Trumpian authoritarianism.” In reading that paragraph, what those two authors did was project Obama’s actual sins of commission onto the allegations against President Trump. It was Obama who “rewrote the rules of politics” by crying racism at every turn when there was even the SLIGHTEST pushback on his socialistic policies and rampant corruption throughout his government. And the “democracy’s assassins” are the leftwing Democrats and their legal scholars who seek to undermine the Constitution and the rule of law and its equal application at every turn – just as Professors Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley outlined for us during the impeachment farce. Verdict on Stelter’s claim: false.

Stelter: This is a worldwide story – not just something that is happening in the United States. America is much better off than many of the other countries that are experiencing this authoritarian creep – this creeping sense of autocracy. It’s happening in many countries. It is a global story, and one that takes more than 90 seconds to explain. You can’t explain this in a 900-word news story, or a short packet on the evening news, so we need new ways to explain what is going on to the audience.

Me: More globalist pablum extracted from the Freedom House article. America is “better off” because our Founders were political geniuses and gifted us the Constitution, which separates federal authority among three branches and includes safeguards to balance those powers. The rest of the world doesn’t have our Constitution.

End of his leftwing diatribe/monologue.

Stelter is a “reliable source,” all right – a reliable leftwing media hack who can be depended upon to convey the Democrat Party line on demand. On Sunday, that party line was “Trump’s authoritarianism.” That line might work inside the legacy media bubble and with the Democrat base and among NeverTrumpers. Good luck trying to persuade the rest of us who know better.

The end.

Stu Cvrk
Stu Cvrk served 30 years in the US Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. An oceanographer and systems analyst through education and experience, Stu is a graduate of the US Naval Academy where he received a classical liberal education which serves as the key foundation for his political commentary. He threads daily on Twitter on a wide range of political, military, foreign policy, government, economics, and world affairs topics.
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