According to Dylan Byers of CNN, Trumpence Bannon has canceled multiple open press events this week, opting not to let reporters into the room to ask questions.
Before last night, I would see this behavior as the avoidant pouting of a petulant manchild who can’t deal with criticism or even form a coherent sentence on his own. But last night I attended a free speech and democracy panel hosted by Pen America. Timothy Snyder, a Yale history professor and author of a new book call On Tyranny, put Trumpzilla’s actions in different light.
In Snyder’s view, Trumpence Bannon is following the classic script of fascism. His attempts to undermine and marginalize the press is nothing less than the second step in a plan to destroy democracy. The relentless shocking statements, the endless manipulation of the news cycle and the normalization of the absurd are the methods used to cripple truth and make America a 21st Century totalitarian state.
It is easier to laugh at Trumpzilla than to take him seriously. It is comforting to see him as a buffoon and regard any references to fascism and totalitarianism as pure hyperbole. But it is a mistake to think it can’t happen here. Once you subscribe to that fallacy of American exceptionalism, the end has already started.