Echoes of Erdogan in Trump’s attacks on the media

Ishaan Tharoor writes: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) warned Trump against “trying to weaponize distrust” of the media. But no matter the (softly spoken) censure from fellow Republican politicians, Trump can’t seem to do any wrong in the eyes of his core supporters.

“They like him, they believe in him, they have not to any large degree been shaken from him, and the more the media attacks him, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy on the side of the Trump supporters who fervently believe the media treat him unfairly,” said Tony Fabrizio, the chief pollster for Trump’s campaign, to my colleagues. “It’s like, ‘Beat me with that sword some more!’”

Trump is hardly the first politician to “weaponize distrust” of the media. In the wake of Trump’s Sunday tweet, Richard Haass, the president of the indisputably bipartisan Council on Foreign Relations, likened Trump’s rhetoric to that of a more practiced strongman president.

The stakes in Turkey are, of course, profoundly greater. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withstood a violent coup attempt a year ago, which prompted his government to embark on a vast purge of state institutions and civil society. More than 100 journalists have been thrown into prison or forced into exile. Dozens of media outlets have been closed or taken over by state authorities. Newspapers that were once titans of the establishment have seen their editors criminalized and offices raided.

But there are some important similarities to bear in mind. Both Erdogan and Trump channel a kind of majoritarian nationalism anchored in grievance at cosmopolitan elites. And both paint their critics as threats to the nation. [Continue reading…]

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