What's the real game plan behind Donald Trump and Stephen Miller's war against the American media?

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      Last night, I spoke to a man whose mother is a popular journalist in Mexico.

      She's had to write under a pen name for two decades because it's such a dangerous craft to practise in a country ravaged by a horrific drug war.

      According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 21 Mexican journalists have been killed "with complete impunity" in the past decade, making it one of the most perilous democracies on Earth for media workers.

      It's even worse in another democracy, the Philippines, where 42 journalists were killed with complete impunity in the past decade.

      President Rodrigo Duterte has been accused of ordering the murder of radio broadcaster Jun Pala in 2003 when Duterte was mayor of Davao City. It's an allegation that the Philippines president has denied.

      I know a journalist from the Philippines. I asked him what the difference is between working in Canada and working in his country of origin. He replied that in Canada, he doesn't have to carry a gun to do his job.

      Pakistan is another democracy where a large number of journalists have been murdered with impunity. According to the committee, 21 have been killed there with absolutely no consequences for the perpetrators.

      Next door in India, a country billed as the world's largest democracy, 11 journalists were murdered last year, according to The India Freedom Report: Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in 2017.

      In a revealing essay, Straight contributor Gurpreet Singh pointed out that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has "an army of trolls who have flooded social media with fake news stories".

      "The matter does not end there," Singh added. "These trolls have been attacking credible journalists and using foul language to intimidate critics." 

      And, of course, there's Russia, which is also a democracy of sorts, even though its authoritarian president, Vladimir Putin, has massive influence over the country's largest media outlets. Nine journalists have been killed with impunity in the last decade, according to the committee.

      Now, it appears that America is heading down the same road as those other democracies. And I'm not convinced that the checks and balances in the U.S. constitution will be sufficient to withstand a slide into authoritarianism, given the Republican sympathies of the U.S. Supreme Court.

      President Donald Trump, encouraged by his creepy henchman Stephen Miller, is whipping up hatred of media workers in a manner that would do Putin proud.

      Trump adviser Stephen Miller has played a key role in the White House strategy of vilifying the media.
      Gage Skidmore

      Trump calls journalists the enemy of the people and rails against fake news.

      He's not as articulate as Adolf Hitler, who described the newspaper he most loathed, the Münchener Post, as the "poison kitchen". But when it comes to the media, Trump is using the same playbook.

      The Munich newspaper's courageous and penetrating coverage of Hitler in the 1920s and early 1930s was told in detail in U.S. author Ron Rosenbaum's Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil.

      Hitler had to destroy the free press before he could move on to his larger objective of eliminating Jews from Europe.

      After Hitler became chancellor in 1933, his brown-shirted thugs descended on the Münchener Post, vandalizing the offices. Journalists were taken away to concentration camps.

      Hitler moved toward his larger objective by stealth. He never telegraphed his true intentions early in his rule, preferring to ratchet up hatred of Jews through escalating actions.

      First, the free press was eliminated. Then there was a boycott of shops owned by Jewish merchants. Jews were banned from working in the civil service.

      The Night of the Long Knives enabled him to wipe out potential opposition within his own party. Then German companies were encouraged to fire Jewish workers and replace them with "good Germans".

      Later, smaller towns expelled Jews to cities. Jews had to register their property. Then Jewish professionals were prohibited from treating Aryans or having Aryans as clients.

      Next, there was the orchestrated anti-Jewish eruption of violence in 1938 known as Kristallnacht. There was talk of deporting Jews but in reality, Hitler planned all along to murder them.

      Countries were invaded for the purpose of rounding up Jews and sending them to the gas chambers.

      To even hint that Trump might be another Hitler is not something that mainstream American media outlets are willing to entertain in editorials appearing in hundreds of newspapers today.

      This is despite Trump's apparent fascination with dictators and his sadistic personality.

      But Hitler's incremental approach, his gradualism, is something that all Americans should be mindful of when observing Trump and, particularly, his menacing aide Stephen Miller.

      Miller will turn 33 years old on August 23. Long after Trump and former chief strategist Steve Bannon are dead and buried, Miller will still be around, either seeking public office or having the ears of ambitious Republican politicians.

      Watch this video of White House adviser Stephen Miller spinning for Trump before being cut off by CNN host Jake Tapper.

      When democracies drift into dictatorship, it usually comes as a huge surprise to the public.

      But the signs are clear for everyone to see in America today. The media are being vilified and discredited. Trump is creating internal enemies for the public to hate. The recent appointment of John Bolton as secretary of state has heightened the likelihood of a war of aggression on Iran.

      In the case of Hitler, the most important step was launching wars of aggression against other countries. This enabled him to usurp even more power at home and abroad.

      We don't know what Trump's ultimate goal is, or even if he's sufficiently focused on anything other than the TV set to have an ultimate goal.

      Equally worrisome, we don't know what Miller's ultimate goal is. He's the one who's provided the discipline and organizational skills to get Trump to where he is today in his presidency.

      Miller has been the chief architect of Trump's war on the media. Miller has been the voice whispering in Trump's ear to demolish the credibility of journalists.

      What's Miller's long-term game plan? More Charlottesville-like protests by white supremacists? More expulsions of Latin Americans and the separation of children from their parents? Or worse?

      And how did this 32-year-old in the White House manage to accumulate so much power?

      No doubt, we'll see more attacks on American reporters in the future as a result of the Trump presidency. That's the norm in other democracies that have fallen under the sway of authoritarian leaders.

      But on occasion, like in Nazi Germany, it reaches unimaginable levels of depravity. It takes a truly treacherous mind to pull off despotism of this magnitude.

      As Rosenbaum pointed out in his fine book, Hitler masqueraded his true intentions until it was far too late for others to put the brakes on him.

      Like all psychopaths, Hitler took delight in duping the world.

      Explaining Hitler reveals how the Nazi dictator even tried to cover up his role in ordering the Holocaust—and he might have succeeded had the Axis powers won the Second World War.

      It's a lesson that should never be lost on Americans as they watch Trump and Miller repeatedly depict their media as the enemy of the people.