The most disturbing thing I’ve ever heard a president say didn’t come from donald trump.

It came from Joe Biden. Speaking to reporters in California on Thursday, the president had this to say about Donald Trump. “Two of his former colleagues who are not on the same network told me personally that if he wins, they will have to leave the country because he threatened to put them in jail,” Biden told Katie Couric. “He embraces political violence,” Biden said of Trump. “No president since the Civil War has done that. Hug him. He encourages it.”

Perhaps I should have been surprised by the revelation that Trump, if returned to power, would jail journalists. I wasn’t, of course. I had to fight (and beat him) three times in court during his first administration to keep my White House press pass. He had already heard Trump’s threats privately. It was just disturbing to hear Joe Biden confirm it publicly.

I’ve already been jailed four times for trying to defend my First Amendment rights when I covered a criminal case in Texas years ago. I spent a total of two weeks in prison for that and I don’t want to repeat my experience. I am not alone. There are at least a dozen journalists in this country who have done the same thing: gone to jail to protect their rights. We call ourselves the First Jailbirds Club.

A few years ago we met at the National Press Club to talk about our experience. The group had never met before. We discovered that while our experiences were very different, we all shared one thing in common: those who demanded we go to jail, whether in a city, county, state, or federal government agency, claimed to support the First Amendment. They just didn’t think it applied in our case.

The fate of Alexei Navalny in Russia reminds us of the most extreme example of what can happen when members of the government fail to respect freedom of expression or, indeed, political opposition. But the fate of Julian Assange is also a reminder that it is not just Trump who is the enemy of the free press. Biden’s Justice Department could drop the Assange prosecution launched under the Trump administration, but has not done so. The Wikileaks founder has been languishing in prison for five years and has been fighting extradition and felony charges in the United States for nearly 13 years for publishing classified government documents based on the idea that the public had a right to know.

Imagine if Assange were extradited to the United States before the November election. Trump would accuse Biden of persecuting journalists while he himself was guilty of the crime.

It all comes down to this: for a journalist to trust what any politician says is not only foolish but also dangerous. Some won’t jail you. Everyone will lie to you.

I’ve always had a distrust of authority, ever since I was a small child and watched our next-door neighbor, a police officer, harass and confiscate illegal fireworks from neighbors on the 4th of July, only to take them to his house and light them. . .

“My contempt for authority… made me an authority.” Albert Einstein saying. I know what you’re talking about. Experience is the supreme teacher and only those who have it can understand.

For example, no matter how much I preached to my oldest son when he was little that he shouldn’t stick his finger in the Christmas tree light socket, he didn’t really understand until he suffered the consequences of doing so. He soon became an authority on that subject.

My experience tells me that Donald Trump means exactly what he says, and there are many politicians who would do the same if they had the chance. Worse yet, covering the Hamas war, a record number of journalists have been killed in an attempt to silence those of us who risked everything to inform others. Those in power do not want us to inform others about what is happening. To do so would be to risk losing control over the masses.

How long will we tolerate politicians who are so power-hungry that they will risk destroying us all to get it?

The press, of course, is a scoundrel in its own right. But the difference is that we can’t do anything more than report verified facts, although we often do it wrong – often due to government intervention – directly and indirectly. We remain trapped by the politician who owns the pulpit and can operate the levers of power. The politician can imprison the journalist. The journalist cannot imprison the politician. We also continue to be trapped by the public who have been manipulated by the government into believing we are the problem.

To be a reporter you must have thick skin if you want to do your job properly, or a limited intellect or lack of courage if you don’t. You can avoid being ridiculed, but only if you play with those in power or if you are too stupid to understand the game being played.

While standing outside President Biden’s appearance at a library in Culver City, California, on Wednesday, I saw a protester yelling “Joe the genocide has got to go!” I approached the protester carrying a megaphone and asked him “why are you calling it Genocide Joe?” It was a simple and obvious question. Instead of answering, the person I asked got angry and accused me of being stupid, a Zionist, a racist, a CIA agent, and several other select invectives that made me laugh.

Shortly before Thanksgiving last year, I encountered a protester waving an Israeli flag in front of the White House. He was shouting that all Palestinians were Hamas terrorists. I asked him, “Do you really think everyone in Gaza is a terrorist?” I had to ask for obvious reasons, but then I was told that he was anti-Zionist, a Hamas supporter, and probably a terrorist.

I was also called a Trump supporter for asking someone if they thought Biden was old. And he called a communist, a fascist, and a Biden supporter for simply pointing out the fact that Trump lost the 2020 election. I can’t help but laugh at all of this.

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Since none of those who have said these things about me, or any other journalist, you really know us, I can’t take the insults seriously. But I take the emotion behind them seriously.

The United States suffers from a disease. While we can only hope, as Einstein did, that the current crisis can lead to a better world, so far we have seen very little evidence of that possibility. We have only seen the psychic discomfort caused by excessive nationalism and the equally violent response to it.

Extremists on both ends of the political spectrum are contributing to the lack of trust in the press, but make no mistake, Trump’s intentions are beyond misunderstood. He is the catalyst and driving force behind the disharmony. Take it out and although there will be no end to the stupidity, there will be a calming of the waters.

That’s why the world can’t see Trump back in the White House. He knows nothing but division. And Biden was right to point out that Trump wants to jail journalists.

Trump supporters don’t care. But I’ve eaten Texas prison food, and that’s it.

When Einstein fled Germany, he fled the poison of nationalism and longed for a country of civil liberty and tolerance. The closest thing he found was here in the United States. Where is he today? More importantly, where will he be after the November general election?

By Sam