Column: Laughing at Brian Stelter’s MAGA-Fascist Fiction

Is The New Republic still an opinion journal, or has it turned into a science-fiction magazine? For their June issue, the magazine put Donald Trump on the cover with a Hitler moustache over the headline “American Fascism: What It Would Look Like.” They published eight fever-brained visions of Trumpian fascism in a second term.

Former CNN host Brian Stelter penned a fictional article titled “Revenge and Freedom From Fact: On the media in a fascist America.” It’s unintentionally funny to decry “freedom from fact,” and then write an entire article based on nothing but your own twitterpated potboiler instincts.

Stelter offered a few real-world niblets – like ugly trolling tweets he received — in the soup of his MAGA-fascist fiction. He asked readers to “imagine” a second Trump inauguration with “very motivated activists” breaking through the White House perimeter, and they appear to be wearing press credentials (which are fake).

Then Stelter imagined one tweeted video of a CBS correspondent offering a water bottle to a protester who was pepper-sprayed, and the right-wing narrative becomes: “The media is complicit. They’re in on it. THEY are trying to assassinate OUR president.”

In retaliation, Team Trump, “fed up with years of accountability journalism” [!] bans most reporters from entering the White House grounds, citing threats to the president’s life. “As Truth Social fills up with memes equating journalists with ‘terrorists,’ networks are given 24 hours to remove their equipment.” In the end, “Fox and Newsmax are allowed on the White House grounds so officials can claim that ‘real’ news is still represented.”

The weirdness of this nightmare is striking compared to the actual reality of the first Trump term, where the Trump team could barely keep out CNN’s Jim Acosta for a week, while CNN had six other credentialed White House reporters.

Stelter’s fictions only grow more humorous from there. There’s the actual Jussie Smollett-inspired verbiage: “Outside a pro-Trump rally in Florida, a local TV reporter is badly beaten by a group of men bearing MAGA merch.”

Ignoring that the Obama administration was more litigious against reporters than any other president (including Trump), Stelter imagines “IRS agents commence audits of top newsroom editors…DOJ attorneys consider Espionage Act charges against adversarial reporters.”

There’s also a serious shooting in this script In a swatting incident, “a caller to 911 claims there is a violent intruder inside the home of a CBS anchor. Police arrive en masse, and amid the chaos, an officer accidentally shoots the anchor’s wife, seriously injuring her.”

That’s not hyperbolic enough: “The same MAGA-heads on social media downplay the violence by digging up the victim’s past tweets praising Hillary Clinton; some even parrot the Trump spokesman [over earlier network outages] and call the injury ‘a good start.’”

In Stelter’s unreality show, Meta websites and Google’s search engine lurch to the right, Target sells extra-large American flags (horrors!), and Disney theme parks have “American pride days (while curtailing gay pride events.)”

Stelter concluded that Trump fans “have been primed for revenge and for freedom from fact. If the chill descends in 2025, no one can claim to be surprised.”

It’s far more realistic to imagine that a second Trump term will begin as the last term ended, depending on who controls Congress. Stelter’s “mainstream media” will be ready to push more impeachments and special prosecutors and criminal trials. There will be zero introspection about their “freedom from fact” journeys with Russian collusion theories and Kremlin-organized Hunter Biden laptop conspiracies.

Perhaps we should imagine a fictional scenario of just how mentally incapacitated President Biden gets in a second term. Is he ruling… or drooling?  

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