- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2017

John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, attacked President Trump late Thursday for “emulating” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy of manipulating and undermining the media.

Writing in an op-ed in the Washington Post, Mr. Podesta accused the president of engaging in a “dangerous” media strategy “used by autocrats” to alter the public’s perception of the press.

Trump is attempting to build a hall of mirrors where even our most basic sensory perceptions are shrouded in confusion,” Mr. Podesta wrote. “He is emulating the successful strategy of Vladimir Putin. These episodes distort our understanding of reality and put us in danger of experiencing an information void like Russia.”

The article was posted online hours after Mr. Trump blasted the media at a White House press conference for dishonesty and “fake news.” The president has criticized the media frequently, almost daily, since taking office.

Mr. Trump also mentioned Mr. Podesta at his press conference, saying the hacking of Mr. Podesta’s emails during the campaign last year wasn’t as serious an offense as the leaking of classified information by U.S. intelligence operatives to undermine Mr. Trump’s presidency.

“You’re talking about John Podesta saying bad things about the boss [Mrs. Clinton],” Mr. Trump told reporters. “If John Podesta said that about me and he was working for me, I would have fired him so fast your head would have spun. He said terrible things about her. But it wasn’t classified information.”

Mr. Podesta said Mr. Trump “benefited from fake news stories during the campaign; then as president-elect and now president, he has constantly used the epithet against mainstream media outlets that dare criticize him.”

“What’s happening here is more than the simple continuation of Trump’s well-documented tendency as a candidate to lie flagrantly and refuse to back down,” he wrote. “It is more than his narcissistic incapacity to receive bad news. It is more dangerous. Trump is deploying a strategy, used by autocrats, designed to completely disorient public perception.”

Mr. Podesta said Americans can’t allow Mr. Trump to deepen public distrust of the media and other institutions. He said the public “should maintain a heightened vigilance and think more carefully about the veracity of the information they consume.”

“Americans must also be wary of any effort, particularly from the White House, to disorient or discredit reliable information,” Mr. Podesta said.

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