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Donald Trump evokes historical propagandists and labels media 'enemy of the American people'

The US President has ratcheted up his attacks on the media.

Trump President Donald Trump speaks while visiting the aircraft manufacturer Boeing in South Carolina. Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has ratcheted up his attacks on the media, describing the press as “the enemy of the American people!” in a tweet.

Shortly after landing at his holiday home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida — where he is spending a third consecutive weekend — the president lashed out.

Trump had tweeted an earlier post which targeted the New York Times, CNN, NBC “and many more” media — and ended with the exclamation “SICK!”

But he swiftly deleted that missive before reposting the definitive version — adding two more “enemies” to his blacklist.

Many US presidents have criticised the press, but Trump’s language has more closely echoed criticism leveled by authoritarian leaders around the world.

The ‘enemies of the people’ label is one that has roots going back centuries but variants of it have been used by, among others, Nazi propagandists, Chinese dictator Mao Zedong and during Soviet-era Russia.

His language also echoes the inflammatory tone pitched by some English newspapers after the High Court ruling that Brexit must be voted on by parliament.

Trump, who regularly accuses the media of overstating his setbacks, also has accused journalists of failing to show sufficient respect for his accomplishments — including in their coverage of a rambling press conference on Thursday in which he voiced a litany of grievances against their industry.

Many reporters were taken aback by the ranting press conference described by some as bizarre, but Trump echoed the words of praise he got from one rightwing commentator and insisted that Thursday’s outing had been a bravura performance.

The 70-year-old built his campaign on criticizing the press as biased.

On Thursday, he launched a long diatribe at a grievance-filled news conference, in which he blamed the media for his one-month-old administration’s problems.

In four tumultuous weeks, Trump has seen his national security advisor ousted, a cabinet nominee withdraw, a centrepiece immigration policy fail in the courts and a tidal wave of damaging leaks.

© – AFP 2017 with reporting by Rónán Duffy

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