There is alive in the land an organized campaign to discredit the American press. This campaign is succeeding. Its roots are long. For decades, the Republican coalition has tried to hang together by hating on elites who claim to know things, like: “What is art?” Or: “What should college students be taught?” Or: “What counts as news?”
The media wing of this history extends back to Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964. It passes through Spiro Agnew’s speeches for Richard Nixon in 1969, and winds forward to our own time through William Rusher’s 1988 book, The Coming Battle for the Media, the growth of conservative talk radio in the 1990s, and the spectacular success of the Fox News Channel, which found a lucrative business model in resentment news, culture war, and the battle cry of liberal bias.
Donald Trump is both the apotheosis of this history and its accelerant. He has advanced the proposition dramatically, from undue influence—Agnew’s claim—to something closer to treason, in which journalists have become “enemies of the people.” Instead of criticizing “the Media” for unfair treatment, as Agnew did, Trump whips up hatred of it. Some of his most demagogic moments have been attacks on the press, often by singling out reporters and camera crews for abuse during rallies with an atmosphere of menace.
Read more at The New York Review of Books