The 140-character coward

Gov. Matt Bevin’s decision to choose social media over traditional media doesn’t promote transparency, as he claims. It allows him to perpetuate the propaganda that he so enjoys.

Last week, Bevin posted a Facebook video presenting a warped perspective of his relationship with the media, transparency and the responsibilities of his office. The video came in hot like something an irate President Trump would tweet on a Saturday morning. It tried to justify his administration’s organized snubbing of the media. He chooses to control his message by using Facebook, Twitter and one or two compliant news outlets.

You may have read about it in LEO, when former CJ political reporter and current columnist Al Cross explained his run-in with Bevin spokesperson Amanda Stamper at a UK event. Cross wrote April 26: “Amanda Stamper said social media allow the governor’s office to ‘take our messages directly to the audiences we are trying to talk to, being able to break our own news, being able to control the message without having to go through the different filters that the media puts on things.’”

My question for Stamper: Why does Bevin need you if he’s not talking to the press anyway? Are you his Facebook cameraperson? Never mind.

Bevin’s outburst was the most stunning fit we’ve seen from a regularly churlish man. He went on a six-minute passive-aggressive rant about how unfair life is. Hey Matt, you know what’s unfair? Having to live with you claiming a mandate in an election, when you received only 16 percent from eligible voters.

Among his outrageous proclamations, Bevin claimed, “There is nothing more transparent than live video — me talking straight to you — nothing more transparent than your ability to hear directly from me.” I might give him the benefit of the doubt if I heard directly from him what’s in the tax returns he refuses to release.

His media strategy is a staple of fascist regimes. We saw it in Germany and Italy in 1930s, and in Russia, North Korea and China today.

In 2015, then-Gov. Mike Pence — Bevin’s bromance buddy — had to reel back plans to start a state-run news service after a national uproar. It was called “Pravda on the Plains.”

What a difference two years makes. But now, Bevin basically runs his own news service on social media and calls it transparency. It’s not transparency… it’s propaganda.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote in “Trump’s Seven Techniques to Control the Media” that “Democracy depends on a free and independent press, which is why all tyrants try to squelch it.” So, too, is Bevin. Here is how he fairs:

Berate the media. Check. Like calling CJ reporter Tom Loftus “pathetic,” and claiming another reporter lied.

Blacklist critical media: Check Bevin regularly blocks people on Twitter — including me — and chooses to only grant access to media he likes.

Turn the public against the media: Check. In Tuesday’s video, Bevin said of The CJ and The Herald-Leader “… Quite frankly, if you subscribe to that newspaper — in my personal estimation — you’re wasting your money.”

Condemn satirical or critical comments. Check. Well, these examples aren’t exclusive to how he responds to the media, but also anyone he disagrees with politically.

Threaten the media directly. He gets a pass here… for now.

Limit media access: Check! That’s the point of his video.

Bypass the media and communicate with the public: Check. Bevin finished his rant by remarking, “The bottom line is you deserve to be able to have direct contact from the governor. This is in my role, my responsibility to you.”

The truth is Bevin, like other dictators, is a coward and a bully. And, like all the fascists who have proceeded him — and the one up in the White House — when the facts don’t fall on their side, if they control the media, they can change the facts.

That’s propaganda, folks.

But, eventually, people realize when they’re being used. Real leaders talk to the reporters they don’t like. Cowards and intellectual frauds, such as Bevin and Trump, hide behind 140-character responses.