Terry Gross spoke with New Yorker editor David Remnick and staff writer Evan Osnos about Putin, Trump, and the New Cold War. Here’s an excerpt from that interview about Trump using the phrase “enemy of the people.”
TERRY GROSS: Trump tweets a lot about the press. On February 17, he tweeted “the fake news media, failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN, is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people.”
DAVID REMNICK: Yeah, what a phrase, “the enemy of the people.”
GROSS: Yeah, I know. That goes back to Stalin, right?
REMNICK: Well, it goes back to Robespierre. It is an ugly, ugly phrase. I don’t know how self-aware Donald Trump is of that kind of phrase. I guarantee you Steve Bannon knows what enemy of the people means. Stalin used it to keep people terrified. If you were branded a “vrag naroda,” an enemy of the people, you could guarantee that very soon there would be a knock in the middle of the night at your door and your fate would be horrific.
To hear that kind of language directed at the American press is an emergency. It’s an emergency. It’s not a political tactic. And if it’s a political tactic, it’s a horrific one. And that needs to be resisted not just by people like me who are, you know, editors or writers but all of us. This is part of what distinguishes American democracy. And it’s untenable, immoral and anti-American.