Joe diGenova, one of the few lawyers left on President Trump’s legal team, said in an interview broadcast on Newsmax TV this morning that former cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs should be executed. Trump fired Krebs — via Twitter, of course — a few weeks ago after Krebs declared the 2020 election which Trump lost was one of the most secure in the nation's history. A statement Trump, while unable to meaningfully contest, nonetheless took umbrage with and lashed out with his customary, toddler-like rage.
“That guy is a class-A moron,” diGenova said in an interview on Howie Carr’s radio show. “He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”
DiGenova was on the shows to speak more broadly about the 2020 election and brought Krebs up as an example of what he believes is the incompetence permeating the United States’ political system. Carr responded with a laugh, though diGenova sounded perfectly serious.
The problem here is much larger than just this single lapse in judgment / call for someone who did their job properly to be executed. It's indicative of the core tenet of Trumpism that sees calls for violence as not just justified, but essential whenever something doesn't go the way the soon-to-be-former President believes it should and fabricates accusations of foul play that genuinely undermine democratic institutions.
Not the first call; not the last — You’d think calls for violence against highly public figures would be considered the ultimate taboo, but as Trump has continued his desperate attempts to cling to the doorframe of the oval office, they've become all too common. As Gizmodo points out, Republican politicians have been calling for violence against people who oppose Trump with increasing frequency since November 3. This trend has been led by — you guessed it — Trump himself, who often calls his opposers “treasonous.”
These passionate calls, once limited to extremist groups like the Proud Boys, are now openly touted by powerful figures in public office. These messages have effortlessly wormed their way into the mainstream via social media companies like Facebook, amongst other outlets, turning a blind eye under the guise of protecting freedom of speech.
When does it end? — Media’s great asset is its ability to quickly disseminate information — social media improves this by making the audiences huger and the dissemination nearly instant. The problem, though, is that social media continues to prioritize metrics like virality, which only encourages calls for violence and other incendiary content.
So-called “traditional” media has largely avoided this issue by sticking to guiding principles — like not allowing misinformation and calls for violence to spread through their broadcasts, for example. But newer networks like Newsmax — which has seen a huge spike in viewership since the election and has gladly taken over from Fox News as the network with its lips most firmly attached to the outbound President's ring — are paving the way for mainstream media to get ever more lax with their own editorial standards.
Platforms like Newsmax are also paving the way for the narcissist-in-chief to consider creating his own news network. Given Trump’s penchant for peddling misinformation and cheering on violence and the blind loyalty of his disciples, that's a disheartening prospect.
Suggesting someone should be executed should be decried by any respectable media outlet. You can bet it's the sort of message an eventual Trump network would only amplify. Further, freedom of speech doesn't include speech that can cause harm. DiGenova should know that. Here's hoping the opportunities to air his views evaporate along with his job come the third week of January 2021.