US media a bigger threat than ISIS?

WASHINGTON • To become the top threat to the United States, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group has engaged in years of brutality, beheadings and propaganda, manifesting an American nightmare scenario.

But as of last week, all that is good for is second place on the list of US enemies, according to Late Show host Stephen Colbert.

The change is due to a tweet last week from US President Donald Trump who declared the US news media the "enemy of the American people". He called out a few names he considered particularly egregious: The New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CNN and CBS.

"You know who I feel bad for? ISIS," Colbert said during his monologue. "They try so hard. Sorry, ISIS. If you want to get on the list, you've got to publish photos of Trump's inauguration crowd. Then he'll be really, really angry at you. So sad. Hidden victims."

Of course, members of the media responded.

"Trump's attacks on the American press as 'enemies of the American people' are more treacherous than Richard Nixon's attacks on the press," former Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who helped uncover the Watergate scandal which brought down former president Nixon, told CNN last Saturday. "Trump's comments are reminiscent of 'dictators and authoritarians, including Stalin, including Hitler'."

In an editorial, The New York Times said "the language that Mr Trump deployed on Friday is more typically used by leaders to refer to hostile foreign governments or subversive organisations. It also echoed the language of autocrats who seek to minimise dissent".

Colbert pointed out that within days of sending out his tweet, Mr Trump announced a new national security adviser, Lieutenant-General H.R. McMaster.

"I swear to do everything in my power to protect the nation from America's enemies, which I am being told are CBS and the failing New York Times," Colbert said, mocking Lt-Gen McMaster's introductory remarks.

"Wow, things have really changed since I was in the Army five minutes ago."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'US media a bigger threat than ISIS?'. Print Edition | Subscribe