I can’t really write about Russia right now because diving into that is like diving into a swamp (pun intended) wearing a lifejacket made of bricks.
But I watched Kellyanne Conway’s interview with Seth Meyers on Late Night and I saw Donald Trump refuse to answer from CNN’s White House Correspondent, calling CNN “fake news.” First of all, we need to retire that term. “Fake news” refers to legitimately false clickbait news, typically churned out by Facebook, that says things like Hillary Clinton running a sex ring out of a pizza shop. Fake news is a nasty phenomenon, but it is not whenever you don’t agree with the news.
Media is taking a huge hit right now. We’re being called biased, fake, unreliable, vindictive. We are supposed to be the bringers of truth, the backbone of the country, and we’re becoming a target.
Conway was saying in the interview that the media is not giving Trump a fair shake, that we’re taking him at his word when we should be reading his intentions. The problem with that, Kellyanne, is that there is no way of reading his intentions. He has no intentions. He flip-flopped on every issue, lied about things in plain sight, shut out the media, ranted on Twitter, built his campaign on the backs of issues targeting immigrants, Muslims and other minorities.
So if we’re reading his intentions and his words, both have negative implications towards the media, minorities, and America.
In her speech at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep could’ve thanked her fans and her team, something soft and fluffy. But she didn’t. She said that Hollywood, foreigners and the press belong to the most vilified groups in society right now. She said that disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. She spoke on the handicapped reporter whom Trump made fun of—something he denies ever happened, despite video proof.
The reporter was someone Trump outranked in every capacity. He has a habit of doing that; humiliating someone who cannot fight back properly. He has that—excuse my language—trump card over all of us. He holds the highest position in the country. No one is able to fight back. And so that is why we need the press. We need the press to shine light into dark places, to unveil corruption, to show abuses of power.
“We need the principled press to hold power to account…Join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”
Streep ended with something that Carrie Fisher told her.
“Take your broken heart, make it into art.”
And that’s beautiful and poignant. But there was something that Meryl said that caught my ear. It was when she was discussing the reporter and Trump.
“But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth.”
The last three words: “Show their teeth.”
The phrase is an idiom that refers to animals, typically wolves. They bare their teeth when they are angered, when they are showing their true nature.
When they are about to attack.
And even though she said it in connection to the hateful, hating people who laughed with Trump, I can’t help but think of it as something that we—the media, minorities, Americans—need to take onto ourselves.
But animals bare their teeth in other moments, not just attacking. They show their teeth in the defense of something.
Show your teeth.
The media has been under attack for months, but it’s heated up. Trump shut down the CNN reporter, the one person who is allowed access to him. He wouldn’t take his question because he didn’t like CNN. We are being shut out; we are being prevented from doing our jobs.
If the urge in the face of the Trump regime is to normalize him, get on his good side—resist that urge. Don’t normalize. Show your teeth.
We have to be vicious. We have to be fearless. We must continue doggedly in the pursuit of truth. Don’t let yourself be distracted by the petty squabbles he lobs into the media, letting it distract them while he does something even more nefarious. Get angry. Stay angry. Be smart and passionate and educated. Information is not a luxury; it is a necessity.
Show your teeth. Bare them, and don’t back down. Because if we do, everyone suffers. We are the protectors of the truth. Propaganda is a staple in dictatorships; a lack of freedom of the press means that nothing is free. If we don’t have freedom of information, we have nothing.
Do like Meryl; don’t let yourself sit in the softness and sweetness. Push forward; use your voice. Don’t get complacent.
Show your teeth.