A sure sign that a campaign is failing is when the candidate blames the press for his problems. The latest example is Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Trump took to Twitter Sunday to attack the press for his sinking campaign. "It is not 'freedom of the press' when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false," Trump wrote. In the words of Khizr Khan, directed at Trump during last month's Democratic Convention, "Have you even read the Constitution?" Apparently he hasn't.
The U.S. Constitution is clear: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The First Amendment was adopted in 1791 by the Founding Fathers to protect the rights of individuals to express themselves through publication without interference from the government.
This is a founding principle of the United States, and it has withstood many challenges since its enactment more than 200 years ago. Trump's assault on the Constitution is just another in his tirades against the press. "I think the political press is among the most dishonest people that I have ever met," he told reporters at a news conference last May.
Trump has regularly called the press "slime," "scum," "dishonest," "sleazy," and the "worst human beings" at his campaign rallies. His supporters greet his attacks with boos and hisses directed at the members of the press assigned to his events. NBC News correspondent Katy Tur has covered Trump since the beginning of his campaign. In an article this month in Marie Claire, Tur recounted how Trump harshly singled her out at a rally last December. "It's unlikely, however, that any of Trump's future attacks will be as scary as what happened in Mount Pleasant (South Carolina), where the crowd, feeding off Trump, seemed to turn on me like a large animal, angry and unchained," she wrote. "It wasn't until hours later, when the Secret Service took the extraordinary step of walking me to my car, that the incident sank in."
Trump is the candidate of fear and anger. He has sought to divide the country into winners, those who support him, and losers--all those who are against him. He has insulted war heroes, the disabled, Muslims, Mexicans and women. His rhetoric is always light on specific details or ideas. Instead, he relies on schoolyard taunts to describe his opponents, like "crooked Hillary Clinton," "lying Ted Cruz," "little Marco Rubio," and "low-energy Jeb Bush." His campaign has been chaotic and disorganized. And now he is sinking in the in the polls, and many key Republicans are abandoning ship.
Trump is desperate to reboot his campaign, but he has not changed his tone. Instead, sadly he continues to attack the press. "If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn't put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%," he wrote on Twitter Sunday. Constitutional law expert Floyd Abrams told CNN Monday, "The very notion that the press can't say what it wants, or what it thinks is right about a candidate for president, is at war with the First Amendment."
Trump has always focused on his brand, after all, he is the man who often masqueraded as publicist John Miller to brag about himself to reporters earlier is his career. But now he is at war with more than the First Amendment. The thin-skinned Trump is at war with his advisors over his campaign tactics.
It should come as no surprise that as Trump is losing ground in the arena of public opinion he blames the messenger. Maybe it's time to bring John Miller back?