Legislators Urged to Declare CNN and Washington Post ‘Fake News’

Guess freedom of the press is what Donald Trump says it is. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

For the most part, I apply what I call a “Random Wingnut Legislator” Rule to resist the temptation to draw attention to every ridiculous thing conservative state legislators do or propose on any given day. There are wingnuts all over the political spectrum, so treating any one or two or three as representative can be unfair and, for that matter, lazy.

But sometimes wingnut legislators indulge in twisted behavior that reflects deeper currents than the usual Breitbart conspiracy theories or warmed-over John Birch Society themes. Here’s one from Tennessee:

As The Guardian reports, the resolution was sponsored by state representative Micah Van Huss of Jonesborough. As the “whereas” clauses in his resolution indicate, he became agitated by a Washington Post column and a CNN segment during the fall, suggesting cultish behavior among Trump supporters:

“My constituents are tired of these elitists in the media for denigrating them,” Van Huss said in [a] podcast. “They’re tired of Republicans who don’t fight.”

Yeah, Republicans never defend Trump or the MAGA folk, do they?

Now, Van Huss is, to use a technical term, a piece of work who seems to have trouble distinguishing legislation from agitprop. In just the past few days, the wiggy solon has introduced a bill to make Tennessee a “sanctuary state” for gun owners, who, of course, are being persecuted by godless liberals seeking to disarm them before imposing Sharia, and a bill to let local governments conduct a “voluntary census” counting up “unborn children” for purposes of securing allocations of state funds. He gained some prior fame in 2018 for mistaking a piece from The Onion on college hazing for an actual news story. So I guess he’s an expert on fake news.

But there’s something particularly ironic about a legislator responding to a couple of MSM comments on Trumpian cultish behavior with more Trumpian cultish behavior. Sure, right-wing attacks on the “liberal” mainstream media are an old phenomenon, particularly in the South, where pols used to blame the demise of segregation on the elitist, race-mixing ways of big-city newspapers and national TV networks. But what we are dealing with here is the attribution of total mendacity to the particular targets of Donald J. Trump, whose relentless disparagement of the Post and CNN has succeeded in its obvious goal of delegitimization, at least among his followers.

A particularly sinister twist of Van Huss’s resolution is the association of support for Trump with “the rights that our veterans paid for with their blood.” It seems the First Amendment rights of a free press are not among the things veterans fought to defend. It’s another example of how avidly the president’s fans have adopted his “L’etat, c’est moi” attitude. And if that observation is too elitist for Van Huss, I’d translate it as “Loyalty to America means loyalty to me.” And if that’s not “cultlike,” it’s not clear what would qualify.

Legislator Declares CNN and Washington Post ‘Fake News’