A journalist and CNN contributor on Thursday accused President-Elect Donald Trump of “auditioning to be a dictator” and fomenting death threats against a union boss.
“He’s basically auditioning to be a dictator. And a bully.”
A tweet, of course.
Trump on Wednesday used his favorite medium to push back against Chuck Jones, the United Steelworkers Local 1999 president who had accused the president-elect of exaggerating the number of jobs he had saved at a pair of Carrier Corp. plants in Indiana.
“Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!” the tweet read.
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Jason Johnson, who in addition to his role with CNN is politics editor of the black-oriented website The Root and a political science professor at Morgan State University, sees a pattern.
“He’s basically auditioning to be a dictator. And a bully,” he said on “CNN Newsroom.”
Ron Brownstein, the editorial director for strategic partnerships for Atlantic Media, suggested dictator might be too strong a word. But he added that he understands why people feel that way.
“I would not go that far, but I do think people ought to be concerned about what the implications of this may be,” he said. “And I think, you know, that Donald Trump … this kind of personal criticism of an individual American who is raising questions about the president is a line that is a dangerous line to cross.”
Johnson also saw danger.
“And now this man is getting death threats, on the phone, by email,” he said. “There have been reports of death threats at him. So, I think it’s horrible. It’s irresponsible for the president-elect. But that is, unfortunately who he is, and how he’s going to behave going forward.”
Trump’s tweet, however, contained not a hint of violence. He did not urge supporters to rough up Jones. He did not threaten to lock Jones up or insinuate that he would deprive the union boss of any constitutional right. The same First Amendment that protects Jones’ right to criticize Trump also protects the president-elect’s right to respond.
But Brownstein characterized it as a “a systematic, really, kind of assault here on voices that are critical” of Trump.
“This is very significant,” he said. “The president-elect of the United States attacking an individual citizen, by name, because that citizen criticized him.”
Added Johnson: “What happens when Chuck Jones gets attacked?”