Trump blames 'The Media' for mass violence. That's not just utter bullsh*t—it's dangerous.

In the wake of three U.S. mass shootings in one week, President Trump is trying to place blame on "The Media."

Let's see. Where to start?

First, the media is not responsible for life and safety in our country. The government and law enforcement are. The press has a responsibility to report on what the government is doing, and to be as accurate as possible in its reporting. "The Media" that the president is referring to—generally reputable news outlets—do that. They are not responsible for people getting angry over what they're reporting, and they're definitely not responsible for anyone's violent actions.

Second, let's remember what "fake news" actually is. During the 2016 election, around 140 websites were discovered as being completely fake sites purporting to be U.S. political news outlets. They published false and misleading stories, fabricated off of headlines coming from the U.S. Some of them were run by teenagers in Macedonia. Many of them manufactured fear-mongering stories about Muslims and immigrants. They also made the website owners rich, because millions of people—the vast majority of them Trump supporters—bought it.


Those sites actually published "fake news." But the president quickly began applying the term "fake news" to real news outlets, and has succeeded in convincing his base to repeat that garbage for two-plus years.

When the president attacks "The Media" or refers to the "Fake News Media," he's made it clear he's not referring to actual-fake-news sites. He's also not talking about extremist, unreliable media outlets that in a reasonable era would be considered fringe, like InfoWars or Breitbart. No, he's referring to the most reputable, Pulitzer-winning journalistic outlets. He calls the New York Times fake news. He calls the Washington Post fake news. He even calls the right-leaning Wall Street Journal fake news.

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Any media outlet that does not fawn over him and praise his every move is deemed "fake news."

In an unprecedentedly childish waste of time, the President of the United States—the supposed leader of the free world—even pulled together a "Fake News Awards" in 2018. His team actually took the time to find the small fraction of errors in mainstream media reporting—most of which were quickly corrected and acknowledged as corrected, as is the journalistic standard—and ranked them for these bogus "awards."

In any reasonable era, all of this would rightly be considered loony tunes.

Errors in news reporting is and has always been a thing. Newsrooms are made up of humans and humans make mistakes sometimes. Reputable sources issue corrections when that happens. That's what has always happened. That's what still happens with the major news outlets.

Meanwhile, the president himself shares and praises questionable and unreliable sources all the time. He shares extreme right-wing media outlets with questionable credentials like Judicial Watch. He tweets fake, racist (yes, objectively racist—take a look) statistics from fake sources without ever correcting them. He tells more falsehoods than any other political figure in the history of fact-checking—and that's not even an exaggeration.

He knows, because his intelligence agencies have told him so, that white supremacists have become more active in the past few years. He knows that white supremacists make up the majority of the domestic terrorism arrests (again, his own intelligence agencies). He knows that he shut down federal programs designed to counter extremist violence and removed funding from programs that help people leave racist hate groups. He knows that the shooter in El Paso drove nine hours to kill immigrants because the guy wrote a manifesto about white replacement. He knows that while he's tried to ban Muslims from entering the country, American-born white supremacists have walked into churches and synagogues and killed fellow Americans while they worship.

And today, he dares to blame the media for mass violence? No, sir. You don't get to do that.

Freedom of the press is enshrined in the first amendment of our Constitution, and yet the U.S. ranks 48th in the world in the World Press Freedom rankings. We've now dipped into the "problematic" range for press freedom, which is ridiculous. We are supposed to be "the land of the free" and yet journalists face daily attacks from the man who took an oath to uphold their constitutionally guaranteed right to report on what he does and says.

Related: I wrote a news headline that didn't even link to a story. Over 2,000 people commented on it anyway.

These attacks on the media matter. They not only sow distrust in journalism, but calling them "the enemy of the people" invokes in gullible people a patriotic duty to protect Americans from journalists. American journalists have been killed on our soil for doing their jobs, and according to Reporters Without Borders, the danger is growing: "Never before have U.S. journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection."

The dangers that journalists face is unacceptable, but what frightens me more is the methodical drip, drip, drip of the president's words creating more and more distrust in legitimate reporting. Conspiracy theories about mainstream media have not only taken hold, but are being actively pushed by the President of the United States. Fear-mongering, calling the press "the enemy of the people," and sowing distrust for reputable sources of information is exactly how despots seize power. It's how atrocities are not only allowed, but encouraged. It's how great nations fall.

It's also classic gas lighting, and we cannot let it slide. The message is this: If you report on what I do and people don't like me because of it, you are 'fake news' and telling lies. If you report my exact words and people think I'm horrible, it's your fault that people think my words are horrible and therefore you're attacking me. If you aren't praising me for the things I'm claiming to have done, you are against me, which makes you against America, which makes you an enemy of the people.

It's like we're in a psychologically abusive relationship with our own president.

I can see that people are growing weary of fighting this battle all the time. I know I'm tired of it. If we were to call out the president every time he makes a false claim and attacks the wrong people, we'd burn out. The relentlessness is by design, to either make us give up or look like we're constantly overreacting. That's how gas lighting works. We can't give up.

The mainstream media is not the enemy. And history will not look kindly upon a president who uses the power of his platform to constantly attack the free press.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.