UPDATED: CBS News has just reported that indeed Cheeto Jesus brought in about 40 of HIS supporters to Langley and packed the first three rows in front of the podium. About 400 of thousands of CIA staffers came, and there indeed are some at CIA who support him. The majority, though, were offended by his remarks and the consensus is that he made things worse, not better, despite the gaslighting by his supporters for the press pool cameras.
Did it strike you as odd that the press was laughing and applauding at Cheeto Jesus’s press conference at Cheeto Tower just before the inauguration? Did it also strike you as even more odd when CIA staff did the same thing during his speech in front of the memorial for agents killed in the line of duty at Langley? Me, too.
Well, it turns out that CJ is bringing his own cheering section to these live network events, and press pool cameras are not showing the crowd. So, when he tells one of his worn out jokes i.e. “we’ll win so much you’ll get tired of winning” the cheerleaders actually follow cues from an applause leader. Yep, believe it or not, we’re being gaslighted, and the media is being complicit.
Apparently though, the networks are beginning to wake up. For example, CNN declined to air Sean Spicer’s Saturday evening tirade where he spewed lies faster than Bernie Madoff, then stalked out of the room taking no questions. Chuck Todd, in a rare moment of playing the roll of journalist rather than political horserace announcer, squared off with Kellyanne Conway yesterday morning and actually used the word “falsehood” several times when she was babbling about “alternative facts”, which is a long way to say the word “lies”.
This latest threat to democracy, however, is existential. To witnesses at the CIA briefing, it was clearly NOT the CIA staff laughing and applauding, it was a group of people that CJ brought with him (just like the New York press conference) to provide the laughter and applause track for live television. Newsweek reported that the applause appeared to be manufactured in two ways; first, it was held on a Saturday where CIA staffers voluntarily signed up to come and were likely Trump voters to begin with, and second, a group of people standing off to the side, obviously brought in by CJ. The the front rows, likely senior staff, did not applaud until the end. Reportedly, former CIA director Leon Panetta’s spokesman, George Little, took deep offense at the campaign style rally in front of the memorial, and outgoing director, John Brennan ripped CJ in a statement saying,
“Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes.”
Media Matters is calling for a war on the Cheeto Whitehouse, encouraging members of the press to band together and not allow the kind of blacklisting/bullying that has already started. You can sign their petition here.
It will be interesting how the WH press briefings are going to to go, if held at all as is common practice. Clearly, this WH with it’s current occupant is a threat to democracy which requires resistance from all of us.