spokesman | Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a fourth-generation military man, deployed twice to Afghanistan. The second time, as a 22-year-old Marine corporal in 2010, he led an eight-man infantry team into combat. Two of his men were wounded by enemy sniper fire, and one of his best buddies later died in combat.
Now President Trump says Thomas is an enemy of the American people.
Thomas, a Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post, was so labeled, along with everybody else in the media, by the commander in chief on Friday. “The FAKE NEWS media,” Trump tweeted, “is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
I asked my colleague, who went to Georgetown University on the G.I. Bill before joining the Post two years ago, how it felt to be called an enemy of the country he volunteered to serve in combat.
“It’s alarming, like a bunch of other things these days,” Thomas said. “It also feels like bait.”
And Thomas isn’t taking the bait. Like the rest of us, he’s keeping his head down and doing his job.
Trump’s Stalinist labeling of the media is his latest attempt to delegitimize the structures of civil society, following similar attacks on the courts and the intelligence community. We in the press are an easy mark because we’re already held in low esteem. In this case, the charge, using the universal language of autocrats, probably shouldn’t be dignified with a refutation: To be forced to make the case that a free press isn’t the enemy of a free people is to fight on Trump’s terms.