In 1933, there were over 4,500 newspapers in Germany. The Nazi party had been on the rise for several years, but only controlled about 150 papers. Before Hitler took power, the party had not made any organized effort to take over the nation’s media outlets. That quickly changed as the Third Reich gained momentum and established itself as Germany’s new government.
Soon after Hitler emerged as the Third Reich’s dictator and the Nazi party’s posterchild for hatred, the party began a campaign of propaganda and misinformation to fulfill Hitler’s ideals. Early in 1933, die Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda — you do not need to read German to know what the RMVP did — began the necessary task of eroding the effectiveness of the press and media. The RMVP began controlling the news by producing propaganda newsreels to stoke public fears that led to increased public reliance on the new government and ultimately resulted in the rapid erosion of civil liberties.
The RMVP was instrumental in enacting the 1933 Schriftleitergesetz that prohibited non-Aryans from working in the press. The law also imposed strict rules and controls on journalists and mandated that they not report on anything or in such a manner to “weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.” In October 1933, the news in German became what the RMVP said the news would be. Any variance from the Reich’s “guidelines” meant immediate dismissal or a one-way ticket to a concentration camp.
The Nazis did not attempt to limit media outlets. Instead, they controlled very tightly how, when, and what information would be disseminated to the German public. Disagree and the RMVP acted swiftly to revoke licenses and memberships in the German press guild. If Hitler had been a Twitter user, he would have tweeted something to the effect of: “Fake news coming from Ulm is bad for the Reich. License revoked and report to Auschwitz!”
That is what Hitler would have said and it is eerily similar to what Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning.
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
Trump’s statement does not have the force of law and it is not as strongly conceived as the RMVP censorship laws. However, Trump’s statement yesterday is an unnerving step in the same direction of a Third Reich propaganda ministry. The intimation Trump may call upon some federal agency underling to pull the plug on networks is an abomination of Trump’s duty to “preserve protect and defend” the United States Constitution.
If Trump is prepared to revoke FCC licenses for national broadcasters, imagine what he may attempt against private citizens exercising a fundamental right of freedom of expression. Is the American public to assume that, given long enough, the Trump regime will attempt to shut down social media?
In addition to his Wednesday tweet attacking the broadcast news networks, reports have surfaced that Trump hotels have been petitioning the public to boycott another Trump foe: CNN. Hotel guests received flyers upon check-in at Trump properties asking them to sign a petition to prevent CNN from being shown in federal buildings like VA Hospitals. The flyer goes on to endorse Fox News Network as the preferred source of Trump-friendly news.
Trump appeared on Fox News Wednesday night, hosted by Sean Hannity where one pundit suggested Trump’s make-up survived a “tongue bath” from the (likely) paid audience. Using Fox News as the modern-day equivalent of a Third Reich newsreel propaganda film, Trump espoused his views on the NFL and the Electoral College. As to the latter, he suggested that he personally would prefer to revert to the popular vote system — Trump is still in denial that he lost the popular vote to Hilary Clinton, or suggesting that he wishes Clinton was president.
America is entering uncharted territory under the Trump regime. According to The Washington Post and New York Times, Trump has uttered (by mouth or tweet) over 1,000 lies or misleading statements in the past 265 days. It is clear that he is trying to shape America’s opinion of him and his regime without regard for truth or fact. This administration advocates the “alternative facts” much the way Hitler’s Third Reich pushed their versions of Fake News in 1933 to commit millions of murders.
As Trump’s own propaganda machine begins to shift into high gear, Americans can look to history to figure out the next step. Perhaps when Trump tries to shut down Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, some of his ardent followers will begin to understand the severity of their beloved leader’s obsession with ratings and control. In an era where Americans can only find outrage over the latest episode of reality television or social media outbursts as their First Amendment birthright, maybe losing the ability to bash a few liberals will make them understand how great America is without Trump.