CNN’s Brian Stelter opened Sunday’s Reliable Sources asking if America is “slouching toward autocracy,” citing comments from President Donald Trump and how some Americans have positively responded.
He brought up recent warnings about “erosions of democratic norms in the United States,” including “President Trump stoking fears about voter fraud, saying the election will be rigged unless he wins.” Stelter also noted Trump going after his own top officials like CDC Director Robert Redfield on vaccines during the continuing pandemic.
More specifically, Stelter cited a recent attack on the press that he called “one of the worst things he’s ever said” about the media.
Trump went after MSNBC’s Ali Velshi during a rally over the weekend and said, “I remember this guy Velshi, he got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas and he went down. He was down. ‘My knee, my knee!’ Nobody cared. These guys didn’t care. They moved him aside and they just walked right — it was the most beautiful thing.”
Velshi responded to the president, saying he was hit by a rubber bullet and asking, “What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?”
Stelter took note that Trump’s supporters “cheered” after his comments and called out the president for making appalling comments mocking Velshi’s injury:
“That’s not democracy. That’s an autocratic thing to do. To sow hatred of the press and celebrate a reporter being injured. He was putting himself in harm’s way in order to explain what was happening on the streets of Minneapolis. He did not break any law. He was not in the way of the police. The president doesn’t care about any of that.”
Beyond the comments from the president themselves, Stelter said what’s concerning about it is how much Trump’s base listens to and believes him. “So when he mocks and celebrates a reporter’s injury, they hear that loud and clear. It’s dangerous. And it’s autocratic.”
“There has always been a segment of the population, a minority of the population that has authoritarian preferences,” he continued. “Basically the desire for a stronger leader to provide protection, fewer checks and balances to get in the way. There’s always been a minority of Americans who would cheer for someone being shot at a protest. Hit by a rubber bullet. That’s always been a minority of the country. Trump has activated that segment. Created permission structures for those Americans to get very loud about their authoritarian preferences.”
You can watch above, via CNN.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]