Trump and anti-Semitism. Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump held a meeting with journalists in Washington, which was dedicated almost entirely to an uninhibited attack on them. He accused the press of working hard to create fake news about him and said that the media and “the bad courts” were jeopardizing national security.
In a tweet on Friday evening, the president added an exceptionally serious anti-democratic comment: “The fake news media is the enemy of the American people.”During that press conference, in a harsh response to a simple question from an emotional Jewish ultra-Orthodox reporter about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents across America, Trump defined himself as “the least anti-Semitic person”—a definition reeking of panic.
Several minutes later, he remembered what he had forgotten to say earlier, stopped what he was saying and added a new explanation to the phenomenon that the Haredi journalist had asked about. The recent racist incidents, Trump said, were being committed by people from the other camp.
They, the provocateurs, he accused, were spreading the racist comments in order to hurt him, in order to hurt the Trump administration’s image and smear him. It’s their fault; my people are good, Trump stated (his remarks were worded in such incoherent English that they slipped under the reporters and commentators’ radar).
Here’s a reminder from the distant past: In July 1946, polish people murdered 42 Jewish Holocaust survivors in the town of Kielce. Police officers, soldiers and members of the Communist-Polish security service took part in the pogrom. Immediately afterwards, the polish regime began spreading an official explanation of the incident, stating that the pogrom was a provocation by Western capitalism in order to smear the winning socialism in Poland and label it as anti-Semitic.
America of 2017 is not Poland of 1946, its Jewish citizens are—hopefully—not in danger of any pogroms, and Trump is not the leader of a tyrant regime.
But the attempt to purify himself of anti-Semitism by calling the recent incidents a provocation of “the other camp” is similar. It won’t be long before it is implied that the Jews themselves are stimulating anti-Semitism in the United States in order to undermine Trump’s presidency.
Trump and television: Trump’s presidency has created a problem for HBO, Netflix and other American TV giants which produce political thriller series. These series have a fixed structure. Just like my four-year-old grandson divides the world into “good” and “bad,” so do most of the series’ creators: The president is good, the secret services are bad.
An example of this pattern can be found in the new season of “Homeland.” The writers of the series put a liberal, Democratic female president in the White House, a white dove reaching out to the Arabs. She is faced by a conspiracy of intelligence agencies working to get America entangled in a conflict with the Muslim world. A similar situation, although not identical, appears in the new season of another popular action thriller series, “24.”
The result remarkably contradicts the new American reality, in which the president is “bad” and the intelligence services are “good.” Trump put a spoke in the wheels of another popular political series, “House of Cards,” which has zero relevance to the 2016 presidential election. No one played in the real election according to the transcript of the series.
What should they do? Should they urgently produce series about a president who was elected on a wave of nationalistic populism and is endangering America and the secret services (“a deep state,” “a state within a state”) that are conspiring to topple him in order to save the homeland? Will this be the new political correctness? HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime and the major commercial networks will find it difficult to properly turn the tables.
Meanwhile, the ratings of the series and reality shows are dropping, and the ratings of the news and commentary programs are rising.
The political commentators have taken their gloves off and are beating Trump’s presidency with bare hands, mercilessly. They are openly mocking, ridiculing and despising him, as if he were not the person embodying the presidency but a junior insignificant politician.
Trump is right in his complaints; the American television is “full of hatred” towards him, but he has earned it fairly and squarely. Or unfairly, to be more exact.