Newsweek compared President Trump to deranged serial killer Charles Manson in a Monday report and cited a psychoanalyst who claims the two have employed similar language to rally their followers.
The digital magazine appears to have quickly removed the reference to Trump in its story after it received public attention.
Newsweek’s article, originally headlined “How murderer Charles Manson and Donald Trump used language to gain followers,” detailed how the late serial killer, who was convicted of nine murders, used language to convince his followers to carry out horrific killings. The headline was later changed to “How murderer Charles Manson used language to gain followers.”
“According to psychoanalyst Mark Smaller, past president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, part of Manson’s power lay in the type of language he used. Notably, Manson was able to speak in a way that engaged those who felt marginalized or alienated,” Newsweek reporter Melissa Matthews wrote in the Nov. 20 article.
The original version of the article quoted Smaller noting that he doesn’t notice any similarities between the president and the notorious killer, but that they both used similar language tactics to motivate their followers, who feel that the government has alienated them.
“Smaller is clear that he does not believe President Donald Trump is similar to the convicted killer, or that their followers have any shared beliefs or characteristics, but he did say we can look to the current president to see how language is used to form a bond with followers,” the original story stated. “Our current president speaks in an emotional or affective way to large numbers of people in our country who feel a kind of alienation or disconnection from the government. They feel very responded to and become his political base.”
Smaller explained that cult followers are so “seduced by feelings of acceptance and understanding that they accept their leaders’ ideologies regardless of how destructive or dangerous they may be.”
And cult leaders, he said, may tell their followers things such as: “Your parents don’t really care about you. Your community doesn’t care about you. The government doesn’t really care about you, but I’m going to not only care about you, I’m going to take care of you. I understand how angry, neglected, and hurt you feel.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the statements referencing Trump had been removed from the article. Newsweek added the following editor’s note: “And earlier version of this story did not meet Newsweek’s editorial standards and has been revised accordingly.”
Newsweek also included the following video, linking Manson’s murderous followers with members of the so-called “alt-right”:
Newsweek is published by IBT Media, which also distributes the International Business Times. IBT Media is owned by Etienne Uzac and Johnathan Davis. In January 2013, Newsweek’s cover featured a photo of President Barack Obama with the glowing headline “The Second Coming: America Expects. Can He Deliver?” A May 2012 cover called Obama “The First Gay President.”
More recently, in August, the magazine portrayed President Trump as a slobby, junkfood-eating couch potato with the headline “Lazy Boy: Donald Trump is Bored and Tired. Imagine How Bad He’d Feel If He Did Any Work.”
Dan Gainor, vice president of Media Research Center, told Fox News that Newsweek stopped reporting real news long ago.
“It’s almost predictable that some idiot online will write an outlandish story connecting Trump to the villain du jour, all designed to generate web traffic and ad dollars. We worked through all the major historical villains the media could tie the president to – Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini. They called him a strongman, a dictator and worse. Now it’s Manson, Weinstein and probably Mugabe,” Gainor said. “The media are running out of hyperbole. It’s all embarrassingly stupid. No one gets held to account for it. And the cycle begins again with the next clickbait article.”
Newsweek’s article sparked a flood of online comments. One reader said the story is “hilariously pathetic.” Another said it’s “the dumbest thing I’ve read in a while.”
A third reader wrote: “Wow, both Manson and Trump used language to gain followers? Next you’re going to tell me that they both drank water to quench thirst. You’ve cracked the case Newsweek. Now every leader will be using language to gain follows.”
But don’t go looking for the comments under Newsweek’s story. The site had scrubbed all the criticism Tuesday, and only one comment remained: “The shadow edit is truly remarkable. Did someone notice you had been intellectually dubious, Melissa? I certainly hope not! That would be embarrassing!”
Newsweek also tweeted its Manson-Trump story Monday, and the magazine was flooded with comments, including the following:
- “Is Newsweek published by the DNC now? I’ll look back on this nonsense when POTUS Trump is reelected in 2020.” – Elder Lansing
- “Newsweek isn’t even a good birdcage liner!” – Mikie Kazan
- “Delete your account, seek professional help & reconsider your life choices.” – Rita Panahi
- “This is what desperation from the left looks like …” – Samantha S Jones
- “Keep it up and you won’t exist at all anymore.” – Jeremy
- “Unbelievable, but you want the public to trust you. Smell what you’re shoveling.” – SM Macias
- “Excuse me! What an insult to President Trump and his supporters! You should be ashamed of yourselves, but I don’t think ashamed is in your vocabulary!” – Wanda Miller
- “The National Enquirer is embarrassed by your low ‘journalistic’ standards @Newsweek.” – Junkyard Dogs
- “Newsweek is no longer journalism. It is sensationalist propaganda.” – One Voice for MAGA
- “Seems to me Obama is more like Charlie than Trump. Obama was a smooth talker who spoke a bunch of cr-p and the media and the sheepeople ate it up without questioning it, just like Charlie did with his followers. Charlie wanted a race war and Obama set race relations back 40 years.” – H. C. C.
- “Careful, your partisan liberal undies are showing.” – Brian J. Naslund
- “CNN: We’re going to publish the biggest sh!t stories of the decade. Newsweek: Hold my gender binary drink and watch this.” – Sarcastic Conservative