Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen during a press conference at Los Pinos on Aug. 31, 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. 
Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent/Getty

Attacking news organizations, Trump sees an 'enemy' of the people

— Updated
About an hour ago, Donald Trump published a tweet, which he deleted soon after. "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!"

The fact that it was discarded led some to hope that the president realized that the language may have had fascist overtones, which he reflected on and deleted accordingly. Those hopes were quickly dashed when Trump re-published the nearly identical message with slight edits:

"The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"
How nice. He removed the all-caps "sick" reference the second time around, though he was more inclusive when attacking networks.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 02/16/17 09:00PM
What it looks like when a president fails
There is no doubt that every president has had conflicts with news organizations, but I hope it's obvious that no president has ever tried to label many of the nation's largest independent news organizations "the enemy" of the people.

Authoritarians speak this way; elected leaders in democracies do not. Trump isn't just demonstrating a contempt for American journalism and First Amendment principles; he's also playing a dangerous game by positioning himself as an authority figure who gets to label those who try to hold him accountable "the enemy."

And ultimately, I think that's what his unnerving assault against journalists and journalism is all about. Trump, after months of praise for the likes of Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein, sees the media as an enemy, not because news organizations are "liberal," but because they stand in his way -- checking his facts, shining a light on his actions, scrutinizing his agenda, and informing the electorate about the details of his presidency.

For Trump, that makes the media a terrible inconvenience. It's exactly why Stephen Bannon recently called the New York Times to tell the newspaper, "I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party." He added that American media should "keep its mouth shut."

That's not going to happen. No wonder the president, throwing the latest in a series of tantrums, sees independent American journalism as "the enemy."