In my new column at Real Clear Politics, I expose the mainstream media’s casual lies about Donald Trump calling for the execution of Gen. Milley. Are they stupid or evil? You decide!
By FRANK MIELE
When you listen to the Ivy League-educated, woke-as-an-Apple Watch, wine-and-slippers crowd on the Sunday morning news circuit, you have to come to one of two conclusions:
Either they are malignant manipulators who willingly lie about their political enemies (known politely as conservatives, and to Joe Biden as “MAGA Republican extremists”), or they are just plain stupid.
OK, maybe not stupid, but incapable of discernment – unable to understand subtlety or recognize sarcasm, for instance. Certainly unable to credit their opponents with the ability to think artfully, and therefore taking everything at face value when there might actually be levels of sophistication hidden in plain sight.
In the case of their endless savaging of Donald Trump, you have to say that after eight years of evidence to the contrary, the mainstream media is completely unable to recognize that Trump has an unparalleled ability to frame an argument to make his opponents look foolish, weak, or unpatriotic. Of course, since his opponents include the mainstream media itself, it’s no surprise that they prefer to call him names rather than to honestly evaluate his criticism.
For the past two weeks I’ve been watching that same mainstream media repeatedly label Trump as a dangerous autocrat who (according to them) called for the death of Gen. Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Here is one example from “The 11th Hour With Stephanie Ruhle” when the MSNBC host said Republicans were ignoring “the fact that Donald Trump made a threat to one of the highest ranking officials in our military, saying Mark Milley should be executed.”
You could pick any of dozens of similar statements from liberal TV hosts, reporters, and Democrats, and what they all have in common is that they attribute to Trump not just a desire to execute Milley but also to incite violence against him.
This is probably very concerning to casual listeners who are trying to decide whether to vote for Trump or Biden in November 2024, because, hey, who wants to elect a president who will put to death his critics? And yet, the assumptions of this defamatory claim go unchallenged. On every network, the talking heads simply repeat over and over that Trump called for the execution of Milley, and by extension that he was rousing his followers to carry out this death threat.
Yet what are the facts behind this canard?
Here’s what Trump posted on Truth Social on Sept. 22:
Mark Milley, who led perhaps the most embarrassing moment in American history with his grossly incompetent implementation of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, costing many lives, leaving behind hundreds of American citizens, and handing over BILLIONS of dollars of the finest military equipment ever made, will be leaving the military next week. This will be a time for all citizens of the USA to celebrate! This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States. This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act.
Anyone with eyes to see (excluding Ruhle and her fellow MSNBC host Joe Scarborough) can ascertain that Trump never called for Milley to be executed. Of course, Trump has plenty of vitriol for Milley, but that is understandable considering their history; moreover, from Milley’s sour comments about a “wannabe dictator” at his farewell ceremony, the feelings are apparently mutual.
But even if you don’t agree with Trump that Milley’s retirement is cause for celebration, you can certainly understand why he says so. And even if it comes from the “Fake News,” we can be pretty sure that Milley did indeed call his Chinese counterpart after the 2020 election to reassure him that the United States would not attack China. According to authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Milley “felt no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump.” Woodward and Costa further reported that Milley told Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng that the “American government is stable” and reassured him that the U.S. would not attack, but that if Trump attempted to launch an attack, the Chinese would be warned first.
I’m no expert on military protocol, but I do know that the U.S. military has civilian leadership, and that the chain of command ends with the president of the United States. I also am unaware of any military threat issued by President Trump toward China, either in public or in private. So if Milley really did say what he has admitted he said – deliberately slander and undermine the commander in chief to a foreign adversary – then Milley is guilty of, at the very least, gross insubordination, and at worst treason. According to Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, treason consists of “levying war” against the United States or “giving … aid and comfort” to our enemies. The latter seems exactly what Milley did when he called the Chinese and told them they didn’t need to worry about that “wannabe dictator” the president of the United States.
Now, the punishment for treason can include the death penalty, and Trump rightly noted that once upon a time in American history, traitors were indeed executed, but musing upon historical precedent is not the same thing as calling for the execution of a man who has not even been charged with a crime.
Yet for whatever reason, the know-it-alls on MSNBC and elsewhere seemingly cannot digest the subtlety of a comparison between what happened “in times gone by” and what happens in our current liberal social order.
Makes me wonder whether they are suffering from the same shortcoming as the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz.” You remember, the one that Judy Garland reassured: “With the thoughts you’d be thinkin’/ You could be another Lincoln/ If you only had a brain.”
But that must not be quite right, because if I recall correctly, the Wizard solved the Scarecrow’s mental deficiency by conferring on him a diploma, whereas I am pretty sure that the problem of most of these “big thinkers” on TV is that they have too many diplomas conferred by too many left-wing colleges.
So I guess they have a brain, after all. Which means I need to return to my original hypothesis, and conclude regretfully that these Trump critics are indeed malignant manipulators, who just lie about Donald Trump because they know they can get away with it.
Why not? Thanks to the 1964 Supreme Court ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan,it is almost impossible for a public figure like Donald Trump to prevail in a libel case against talking heads who lie for a profession. So no matter how much Trump or other conservatives point to the truth and demand a retraction, it ain’t likely to happen.
Maybe the real theme song for the mainstream media should be “If I Only Had a Conscience.” But that would just go over their heads anyway, so why bother?
About Heartland Diary USA
Heartland Diary is solely operated by Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. If you enjoy reading these daily essays, I hope you will SUBSCRIBE to www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com by leaving your email address on the home page. Also please consider purchasing one of my books. They are available through the following Amazon links. My new book is “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends” and is a collection of personal essays that transcend politics. My earlier books include “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution,” “The Media Matrix: What if everything you know is fake?” and the “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” As an Amazon Associate, I may earn referral fees for qualifying purchases through links on my website.