In a massive blow to Trump’s propaganda machine, the Associated Press announced that it’s making it a new rule in its widely used “stylebook” that reporters should not use the term “Alt-right” when describing the collection of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and white nationalists who have leeched onto Trump’s campaign and now have a figurehead, Steve Bannon, soon sitting a few doors down from the Oval Office as Trump’s chief advisor in the White House.
The AP Stylebook correctly points out that the term “Alt-right” was used by people with racist and xenophobic ideologies to soften their image and hide their reprehensible ideas behind a clean name.
“Alt-right” (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the “self-described” or “so-called alt-right” in stories discussing what the movement says about itself. Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience.
Instead, it encouraged reporters to call these people what they are: Racists.
In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.
It’s a heartening example of how the press may finally be grappling with the failures it demonstrated during the presidential campaign. Critics have long pointed out that the mainstream media has seemed ill-prepared to handle Donald Trump and his non-stop lies or his open, unapologetic incitement of hate. They tried falling back on the “both sides” and “fair and balanced” coverage they were used to and Trump exploited it time and again. More recently, news media has finally begun fact-checking Trump in their headlines and chyrons, but it was too little, too late.
— Susan Ochs (@susanochs) August 11, 2016
Now with Trump being joined in the White House by white nationalist Breitbart owner Steve Bannon, the press has to come to grips with the fact that this isn’t just going away. Trump will lie and spread hate for as long as the press lets him. The “dignity” of the office hasn’t changed him. He’s still Trump.
AP seems willing to start fighting back. Already their social media team has begun adapting to this new age of living under a lunatic. After Trump falsely claimed that the popular vote was “stolen” by “illegal voting,” the AP Twitter account shot out this cheeky dig at Trump.
President-elect Donald Trump doubts the validity of the election he won: https://t.co/Qbz9tgc4T9
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) November 28, 2016
If this is any indication, then Trump is about to learn the definition of a “hostile press.” If the media is one of the weapons Americans can use to prevent a would-be tyrant from running amok in the White House, then journalists better start suiting up for battle.
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images