In this article, GOP pundit Jazz Shaw argues that Donald Trump skipping the Fox News GOP presidential debate is a positive for Mr. Trump. Mr. Shaw might be right that “the number of Trump supporters who abandon ship over this decision will probably be exactly the same as the last twenty scandals and outrages we’ve covered: zilch.” That’s probably true but that isn’t the bigger point here.
The story nobody’s covered is whether Donald Trump is a tyrant-in-waiting. Let’s examine the abundant evidence that he is. In July, Mr. Trump banned Katie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register from a public campaign event as retribution for the DMR’s scathing editorial calling for Mr. Trump to get out of the race for questioning Sen. McCain’s patriotism.
Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, told DMR that “We’re not issuing credentials to anyone from The Des Moines Register based on the editorial that they wrote earlier in the week.” That was the first public glimpse into Mr. Trump’s tyrannical side but it isn’t the last.
In November, the Trump campaign banned a reporter for Buzzfeed who is a credentialed White House reporter. Evan McMorris-Santoro tweeted that he “asked the Trump camp for credentials several days ago. Never heard back. So I came out to Iowa to check things out. At press table, Trump aide looked at my WH and Hill creds, called Trump camp to see if I could be let in. 10 min later, the answer: no.”
The important question journalists and Republicans should ask themselves is whether Mr. Trump will shut down reporters if the editorial board criticizes the Donald. There’s no chance that Mr. Trump won’t get criticized. No president is immune from that. If a President Trump sends the message that only obedient reporters will get access to The Donald, won’t that have a chilling effect on reporters?
That’s precisely why the Founding Fathers put freedom of the press in the First Amendment to the Constitution. They wanted to send the signal that reporters would be protected from tyrants who wanted to suppress unflattering reports.
In October, the Trump campaign banned Univision from covering his campaign. Mr. Trump banned Univision anchor Jorge Ramos because Mr. Ramos interrupted The Donald after Mr. Trump made some controversial statements about Hispanics. Aren’t these examples proof that Mr. Trump doesn’t like freedom of the press? Aren’t these examples proof that Mr. Trump wants to intimidate the press into not criticizing him?
These are things that third world dictators do. The American people shouldn’t put up with that. This isn’t Cuba, Russia or Venezuela. The Founding Fathers enshrined the First Amendment into the Constitution so it couldn’t be eliminated by a tyrant through legislation. They put that high of a priority on the press being able to inform the people about what their government is doing.
The question, then, isn’t whether Mr. Trump is a tyrant-in-waiting. The question is whether we want to elect a tyrant who wants to silence the press in an attempt to limit unflattering reporting about his administration.
Liberty-loving Americans can’t tolerate Mr. Trump’s thug-like attacks on the First Amendment.