As a kid, I had high hopes. “I don’t want to be a millionaire,” said my favorite T-shirt. “I just want to live like one.” That’s my impression of autocrat-in-progress Donald J. Trump. He doesn’t want to be a fascist; he just wants to throw his weight around like one.This thought came to mind Monday after he added the Washington Post to a growing list of media whose credentials he has lifted. “Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign,” Trump posted on his Facebook page, “we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post.”What was so “phony and dishonest?” In a separate message, Trump cited an online Post headline that morning: “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting.”The newspaper softened that headline about 90 minutes later to “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting,” but Trump lifted the Post’s press passes and took credit for the headline change anyway.In fact, it is hard to say precisely what Trump had intended except vague insinuations about Obama. On Sunday, he tweeted that Obama “should immediately resign in disgrace” if he refuses to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” Obama, former President George W. Bush and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have tried to avoid terms like “radical Islamic terrorism” that needlessly encourage more radicalization.On Fox News Monday morning, Trump hinted that President Obama is conspiring somehow with our terrorist enemies, saying that Obama perhaps “gets it better than anybody understands” and “has something else in mind. … There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable.””There’s something going on” is the sort of vague phrasing that Trump has used to throw mud at Obama in the past without having to bother with producing actual evidence.There are lots of votes to be had by pandering to those who will grasp at any straw to question Obama’s legitimacy in office.How serious is Trump about his latest media ban? That was hard to tell. He has a habit of berating reporters in public, and then talking with them cordially afterwards as if nothing hostile had happened.In one bizarre news conference to address his claim of raising $6 million for veterans groups, he used epithets like “sleaze” and “dishonest” to describe reporters who had raised questions about the money, which turned out to be less than Team Trump had advertised.Trump went full crybaby against the reporters, moaning about how his generosity was not being appreciated. When an ABC reporter asked Trump why Trump was calling him a “sleaze,” Trump fired back, “You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well.” Right.The New York businessman and reality-TV star loves media attention, reporters who cover him say, but he hates media scrutiny.Among other news organizations his campaign has blacklisted are Gawker, Politico, Buzzfeed, Foreign Policy, Univision, Fusion, Mother Jones, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Des Moines Register, the Daily Beast and Huffington Post.Journalists who do receive credentials are penned up in the rear of his events, where Trump can conveniently point at them and leads the crowd in choruses of boos and jeers reminiscent of “Two Minutes Hate” in George Orwell’s dystopian “1984.”Republicans have complained about liberal media bias for decades. But the often-litigious Trump has gone further than most. He actually has promised to “open up” libel laws, should our country go crazy enough to elect him president. This would make it easier for newsmakers to sue and win judgments against media for coverage that they don’t like.That’s a good reason for him to dislike the media. Too much information could shrink his base of supporters.I have a suggestion for him. If he doesn’t want to face reporters’ questions, he could follow the path of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: He could buy his own news media. Then he could have the fun of both censoring and insulting himself.
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