The New York Times is a failing paper. Its protracted failure is, in a word, "SAD!" Despite, or because of, this depressing truth, President Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon delivered the newspaper of record the following dressing down one week ago: "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while... the media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States."
His sentiments echoed those of Congressman Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, who delivered a floor speech last week wherein he declared it's "better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth."
As a Twitter verified member of the opposition party of which Bannon speaks, I must say—I am embarrassed. I am humiliated. I, indeed, still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States. And so, in the interest of gaining some much-needed clarity, I have decided to take Bannon and Smith's advice to heart. I have decided to shut up and listen for a while.
I have created a list on Twitter labeled "Unfake [sic] News," which follows two only accounts: @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS. At the time I begin this experiment, Trump's last tweet states he will be "America's greatest defender and most loyal champion," a statement I assume has something do do with the executive order he signed Friday banning refugees from entering the country and his continued fervor for building a wall along the Mexico border.
For the next five days, the only tweets I will see from external accounts will be ones retweeted by the man himself. I will not look at Facebook or even Instagram, lest someone who is being paid to protest posts pictures from an underpopulated and over-publicized march. I will not read newspapers or magazines. I will not watch television or listen to the radio. I will, finally, embrace the truth. I will soon realize I have chosen perhaps the most harrowing time in modern history to do so.
Saturday, January 28
I wake up sore from a car accident that occurred two days prior, my physician-prescribed muscle relaxer rendering me only semi-cogent. I was T-boned by a late-model SUV driven by a representative of Obamacare-hating dough oligarch John "Papa John" Schnatter; the poetry of me, a card-carrying member of the coastal elite, rendered helpless by a billionaire's lackey in this political climate is as delicious as a slice of pizza from anywhere but Papa John's. I am perpetually groggy and easily influenced. Perfect.
At 8:04 AM, Trump makes his first tweet of the day. His target? The Times, natch. It is, again, a "failing" paper that has been "wrong about [him] from the very beginning." "FAKE NEWS!" he types into his allegedly unsecured Android.
"Thr [sic] coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost gas [sic] been so false and angry that the times actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers." he follows. "They got me wrong right from the beginning and still have not changed course, and never will. DISHONEST." His dogged refusal to acknowledge or apologize for his lack of grammatical correctness comes as no surprise.
Two hours after his fake news meltdown, he offers a touching tribute to the doomed crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, who perished 31 years ago today. "#NeverForget," he tags the tweet.
He then, from the @POTUS account, retweets Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel's southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea."
"Yes," I think. "Israel's immigration policy is, indeed, a great success. No turmoil over there, no siree."
"YOUR WEEKLY ADDRESS" shouts @POTUS's next post, a soliloquy delivered directly into camera outlining everything he has accomplished in his first week in office. His speech is slow and labored; his uncomfortable demeanor suggests he is being held captive yet remains defiant, a sassy POW. "This administration has hit the ground running at a record pace," he announces. "Everybody's talkin' about it."
He rounds the day off by tweeting a video of himself signing an executive order.
"People have been talking about doing this for a long time," Trump says to an invisible camera while signing the order. "Like, many years."
I walk outside. It's 10 PM on a Saturday. The windows of the apartment buildings surrounding me in my majority-immigrant neighborhood are unusually dark. I wonder if a time will come when this becomes usual.
Sunday, January 29
It is a perfect day in Los Angeles. Visibility is high, the sky as blue and piercing as a movie star's eyes. Cloudless. The only thing marring its perfection is a police helicopter chopping through the azure.
Again, Trump's tweets begin at 8 AM. Again, he rails against the Times, which, again, is a failing distributor of FAKE NEWS. He follows up eight minutes later with some xenophobia ("Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, [sic] NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world - a horrible mess!"). Two hours after that, he throws some light race-baiting into the mix ("Christians in the Middle-East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!"). I ask my gentleman friend if the protest I heard was going to happen at LAX today has come to pass. He tells me it has, as have others, and they're "making the Women's March look like a game of bridge." I frantically keep refreshing my Trump feed. Hours go by with no updates.
I sit on the edge of my proverbial seat, wondering how much of the world is burning while I twiddle my thumbs and wait for my commander-in-chief to address the situation. "Are we at war?" I impotently ask friends. They refuse to say, respecting the vow I have made to remain temporarily bereft of wokeness. I feel utterly powerless. More so than usual, which is saying something.
Trump eventually issues a Facebook statement in which he uses the word tremendous. He says "we will keep [America] free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say." Good thing I didn't consult the media in those intermediary hours; they would have done nothing to assuage my fears. "To be clear," he continues, "this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting."
A mere 20 minutes after issuing this statement, he is back to self-promotion. The president of the United States promotes his shows via social media more than someone in a shitty improv troupe. At 11 PM, he will be interviewed on the Christian Broadcasting Network by someone named David Brody, who is not verified on Twitter. Twitter only verifies representatives of FAKE NEWS, I guess.
I watch his appearance while yelling at the screen in frustration, in the exact same way people yell at reality television shows. In this regard, he has already got what he wanted; he has turned reality into a highly scripted, hyper-real iteration of itself. In this regard, he has won. And in other, more significant, regards as well.
Monday, January 30
I knew things had taken a turn in the past two days, but the profundity with which they had did not become apparent until I saw that Trump:
A. Got up an hour earlier than usual
B. Did not start the day with a tweet about the Times's failure.
Rather, he tweeted that the "problems," whatever those were, at airports the previous day were caused by a computer outage, protesters, and the "tears of Senator Schumer." An hour later, he tweeted that "if the ban were announced with a one week notice, the 'bad' would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad 'dudes' out there!"
His usage of the word "dude" gives me pause. Now, I could imagine his predecessor using the word "dude" in the context of a viral video designed to appeal to preteens ("Hey, dudes... reading is cool!"), but not in the context of matters of national security. But then again, Trump's not like... other presidents.
Immediately afterward, he returns to self-promotion. HE has decided who HIS Supreme Court nominee will be, and says he will make his announcement at 8 PM ("W.H.") time, a.k.a. 8 PM EST, tomorrow. He then posts a YouTube video of today's press briefing, the first 37 minutes of which are a blank screen.
He retweets Vice President Mike Pence, who has welcomed the king of Jordan as the first foreign leader to visit his home.
At 10 PM, I learn acting attorney general Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, has been fired. For insubordination. Note that "insubordination" is my word, not Trump's—the largest word in his vocabulary, both literally and figuratively, is "tremendous," which he, much like the word "literally," has overused to the extent it no longer holds meaning. In a Facebook post, Trump wrote that Yates "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States," which makes sense, as she's an "Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."
"It is time to get serious about protecting our country," Trump's post continues. "Calling for tougher vetting for individuals traveling from seven dangerous places is not extreme." But wait—I thought he loved the word "extreme." He, after all, was the one who called it "extreme vetting." I am extremely confused. Dana Boente will be the AG until Jeff Sessions is approved; Sessions is "wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons" for now.
I do not know exactly what is happening, but I know it is not good. I can tell it pains the fellow members of my socialist bubble to withhold this information, but withhold it they do. "It's bad, right?" I ask. They solemnly nod in response. I feel the solemness of their nods in my bones. I sit on the hood of my friend Erin's car, smoking a cigarette and looking at palm trees, after hosting a comedy show wherein no one talked about anything but the difficulty of dating. She informs me that her bleeding-heart boyfriend just brought a gun back from his home state of Tennessee.
Tuesday, January 31
Trump begins tweeting at 6:21 AM with a two-part screed about Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer's rally on the steps of the Supreme Court, a rally he mocks for its technical difficulties. Chuck Schumer is now "Fake Tears" Chuck Schumer. If everything is fake, what is real? And why doesn't Pelosi get a nickname? "Nasty Nancy," perhaps?
"When will the Democrats give us our Attorney General and rest of Cabinet! [sic]" he laments. He's constantly aggrieved by people's inability to give him, and by proxy, us, what we want. He never accomplishes anything, just declares that he would, if only everyone would cater to his will. He promises he will make America great again, yet never states exactly how he will do so.
He will make his SCOTUS nomination at 8 PM EST on Facebook Live. I know this because he has promoted the announcement four times today. I open the feed early; a sea of hearts and thumbs ups float past a shot of an empty podium, punctuated with the occasional angry or laughing face emoji. The closer it gets to the time of his announcement, the more the feed buffers. As he walks to the podium, it freezes completely.
As a "man of [his] word," Trump says he'll give us the nominee we've been ASKING for "for a very, very long time." That nominee is Neil Gorsuch. "So was that a surprise?" he asks. Gorsuch is "tremendous"! And has "bipartisan support"! Trump's accounts continue to tweet during the speech; by the end of the 15-minute press conference, they will have tweeted four times. One is a retweet of an account called @GorsuchFacts, which, I think, has been created by the White House in order to promote the nominee. Its bio reads, "Judge Gorsuch will be fair to all regardless of their background or beliefs. This is exactly the kind of #SCOTUS Justice @POTUS promised." His qualifications, according to Trump, are "beyond dispute." He can "only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together—for once—for the good of the country" and confirm him.
The nomination of Gorsuch ultimately results in a dozen tweets and retweets. One tweet highlights his three best qualities:
Wednesday, February 1
The storm must have passed, because Trump is no longer waking up at 6 AM. And yet, libtards are still seemingly butthurt about the erosion of their civil liberties. At 8 AM Trump tweets, "Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!"
He follows with a photo of himself surrounded by a conference table of African Americans; he's "proud to honor the start of Black History Month." See that? He's not racist!
He's also a deeply spiritual man, as evidenced by the next photo he posts, in which he's flanked by whites in moment of solemn prayer after last night's nomination of Gorsuch. I pray that when I finally find out what's happened over the past five days, I still believe in the possibility of a God.
Thursday, February 2
Experiment over, I can once again look at FAKE NEWS, yet can't bring myself to dive in, as I feel getting up to speed on what has actually transpired over the past week has become an impossible task. The failing Times homepage is as terrifying as it is overwhelming—headlines speak of the White House's "Dark View of Islam," Trump's vow to "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment, and "Missile Tests" in Iran. I am overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge.
I check Trump's feed one last time; there, he states Iran has fired a ballistic missile. For this, they have been "PUT ON NOTICE." What exactly this statement means, I have no idea. I wonder if he knows.
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