Regardless of what we think of what Omarosa says, she has the right to say it… Or does she? She actually does, but that isn’t stopping the White House from trying to stop her from spilling all the tea on Donald Trump’s dysfunctional presidency.
However, this issue is far bigger than another Trumpian spectacle fit for reality TV. Let’s take a closer look at what’s being said as we figure out what’s really going on, and why it’s a bigger deal than you think.
What’s the deal with Omarosa?
.@OMAROSA on Trump taking legal action to silence her: "What is he trying to hide or afraid of? If he has not said anything that's derogatory or demeaning to African Americans, why would he go to the extent to shut me down?"
She also confirms she's been interviewed by Mueller. pic.twitter.com/uzKbSiTa1W
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 14, 2018
Anyone who knows Omarosa Manigault Newman knows she’s an expert at stirring the pot. I long ago lost track of how many times she started shit on some TV show. I guess that’s why we shouldn’t be all that surprised by her seeking revenge on Trump for firing her from the White House. Of course, we also shouldn’t be surprised that Trump is (again) resorting to crass, racist, and misogynistic rhetoric to attack Omarosa.
And yet, there’s far more to this story than merely a whole lot of trash talk. Trump’s also trying to silence Omarosa by demanding the enforcement of their non-disclosure agreement (NDA), and by attempting to stop the airing of audio tapes that Omarosa recorded. These tapes and her new tell-all book have a whole lot of explosive material, from talk of Trump’s rumored use of “the n word” to discussion of Trump’s “mental decline”. She also shares a story of Trump offering her a job at National Enquirer in exchange for dropping a lawsuit, a story that’s eerily similar to Karen McDougal’s story of Trump offering her a job at National Enquirer in exchange for her dropping her lawsuit and keeping quiet about their extramarital affair. On top of all that, Omarosa is even claiming Trump knew about Wikileaks’ hacking into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
While these tapes may violate (well, what used to be) the federal government’s national security protocol, they’re not illegal, as Washington, D.C., has a “one-party consent” law for recordings. And in regards to the NDA, it probably can’t be enforced due to prior court rulings stipulating that the government can’t retaliate against workers for exercising their First Amendment free speech rights. So if Omarosa is engaging in completely legal activities, why is Trump trying to silence her?
Why is this bigger than Trump’s feud with Omarosa?
Back in May, Trump tweeted, “leakers are traitors and cowards”, after reports surfaced of a White House staffer attacking U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) as he battles brain cancer. Instead of disciplining the staffer who made the disparaging comments, Trump attacked the “leakers”. And since we’re talking about Donald Trump, he also resorted to his age-old tactic of attacking reporters who dared to cover such unflattering stories from his administration.
The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2018
Some six weeks later, five people were killed in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. Despite that tragedy, Trump has continued to attack the press. Even when some supporters resort to outlandish conspiracy theories to attack perceived enemies (including the news media), Trump adds more fuel to their conspiratorial fires. And yes, he continues to declare the media “the enemy of the people”, use tools like NDA’s to control what people in Trump’s orbit say, and use lies to promote his narrative (while labeling the truth as “FAKE NEWS!”).
Why does this worry me?
As we’ve discussed many times before, Trump sets quite the example for his Republican Party. When it comes to gaslighting the American people on the role of the press and the truth about “FAKE NEWS!”, Trump has developed a template for other politicians to copy.
Last week The Nevada Independent Editor Jon Ralston began to detail how U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R) and Nevada Attorney General turned Gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt (R) have not only complained about his coverage of their respective campaigns, but have also weaponized both their campaign communications teams and their taxpayer funded public offices against his outlet. This week, he revealed that Laxalt’s campaign spokesperson sent him a threatening email over the weekend. Sadly this comes as no surprise to me, since both have a track record of erecting barriers to reporters seeking information (or even just comment). Still, it’s quite disturbing to see the state’s senior Senator and Attorney General go to such great lengths just to tell us, “No comment… Ever.”
To be fair, neither Trump nor the Republican Party holds any kind of monopoly in showing belligerence toward reporters. (No, Democrats, you don’t get a hall pass just because Trump, Heller, and Laxalt do it.) Rather, what’s so frightening is how Trump may be succeeding in normalizing the practice of gaslighting the public to discredit the truth. No matter what comes of Omarosa’s press tour for her book, it’s Trump’s campaign to silence her and prevent other whistleblowers from sharing the truth with the press that’s really shaking me to my core.