Phil Garber
10 min readNov 22, 2023

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Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Jerald TerHorst, Where Are You? Steven Cheung, Please Go Away

What we really need is a reincarnation of Jerald terHors, what we got was a new iteration of Joseph Goebbels.

Jerald terHors, you are nowhere to be found and so, we have to suffer the likes of Steven Cheung, who is not now, and never will be another Jerald terHorst.

Cheung, 41, is the latest spokesman i.e. lackey, i.e. attack dog, for trump’s obscene quest to be anointed for another four years and maybe many more in the White House. Trump is not in office now so he doesn’t have a press secretary but a rose by any other name is still rancid and Cheung would be the latest in a long and disastrous line of presidential press secretaries (henchmen) from Ron Ziegler., who had the impossible job of making Richard Nixon look good, to such embarassments as Sean Spicer, Stephanie Grisham and Sara Huckabee Sanders, who each had the even infinitely more difficult task of making trump look presidential.

Cheung and his forerunners under trump are carrying on the tradition of the most successful mouthpiece and propagandist of them all, Joseph Goebbels, who bears a strong resemblance to Stephen Miller, trump’s anti-immigration architect.

For those who are not familiar with terHorst, he was President Ford’s press secretary for one month, from Aug. 9 to Sept. 8, 1974, before he took a rare, principled stand and resigned after Ford pardoned former president Richard Nixon. TerHorst found the pardon especially unconscionable in light of Ford’s refusal to pardon those who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War.

As for Goebbels, he was the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party, and then Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. He was one of Adolf Hitler’s closest and most devoted followers, known for his skills in public speaking and his deeply virulent anti-Semitism which was evident in his publicly voiced views. He advocated extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.

Trump hasn’t said who he would appoint to the thankless, self-flagellating post of presidential spokesman, if he wins in 2024. A possibility could be that darling of the right, Kyle Rittenhouse, who is writing a book titled “Acquitted,” about the trials and tribulations of becoming a martyr after he shot and killed two people during an anti-police brutality protest in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020.

“I went to Kenosha to help my community — not become a whipping boy in the national debate. In less than three minutes, the direction of my life was horribly altered when I was forced to defend myself with deadly force,” Rittenhouse said while promoting his new “book.”

Cheung’s verbal acrobatics as trump’s 2024 campaign spokesman would bring a smile to Ron Ziegler.

In October trump was roundly criticized for saying that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country,” using language made popular by white supremacists and Hitler.

Cheung responded, “That’s a normal phrase that is used in everyday life — in books, television, movies, and in news articles. For anyone to think that is racist or xenophobic is living in an alternate reality consumed with non-sensical outrage.”

Trump was excoriated again in November for again using language of fascist dictators when he said his political opponents were “vermin.”

Using the time honored strategy of deny, deflect and defend, Cheung was in classic attack mode when he said “Those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their sad, miserable existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

Last week, a Colorado state judge ruled against an effort to deny trump a place on the 2024 ballot for president. The plaintiffs suit claimed that trump had violated the 14th Amendment which disqualifies anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution after having taken an oath to support it.

Judge Sarah B. Wallace ruled that trump had in fact, engaged in insurrection with his actions before and during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. But the judge allowed Trump to remain on the ballot on the grounds that the disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment did not apply to the president of the United States.

Trump who won the right to be on the ballot but was identified by the judge as an insurrectionist, not exactly a ringing endorsement of trump. Cheung came to the rescue, calling the ruling “another nail in the coffin of the un-American ballot challenges.”

Cheung said the case and others challenging trump’s right to be on the ballot “represent the most cynical and blatant political attempts to interfere with the upcoming presidential election by desperate Democrats who know Crooked Joe Biden is a failed president on the fast track to defeat.”

“The American voter has a Constitutional right to vote for the candidate of their choosing, with President Donald J. Trump leading by massive numbers.” Cheung said. “This right was correctly preserved in Colorado today and we urge the swift disposal of any and all remaining Democrat ballot challenges. Onward to total victory 2024, we will Make America Great Again!”

This year, four criminal indictments were filed against trump. Two indictments are on state charges in New York and Georgia and two indictments are on federal charges. The indictments amount to a total of 91 felony charges. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Even if he is convicted, he would not be disqualified from running for president.

Chueng was in rare form after a Feb.27 story by HuffPost, also in reference to the judge’s ruling.

“President Donald J. Trump is completely innocent, he did nothing wrong, and even the biggest, most Radical Left Democrats are making that clear,” said Cheung. “From Russia, Russia, Russia, to the Mueller Hoax, to Impeachment Hoaxes 1 and 2, and even the Unlawful Mar-a-Lago Raid, Democrats have investigated and attacked President Trump since before he was elected — and they’ve failed every time.”

“Americans will not tolerate Radical Left Democrats turning our justice system into an injustice system to influence a presidential election,” Cheung said. “Our country is not going to let this happen.”

People magazine ran a story on March 23 about trump’s state of mind over his pending trial over allegedly paying hush money to adult entertainment star, Stormy Daniels. The story quoted sources who said that “Donald is trying to save [himself] by scaring off the prosecution. He is not comfortable or confident about the Stormy Daniels case. He is very worried.” The source said trump is showing “a lot of false bravado.”

Then there was a Newsweek story on Nov. 29 in which former federal prosecutor Glen Kirschner critiqued trump’s performance on the witness stand, including frequently pounding on the table, at his New York fraud trial.

Kirschner posted on X, “Trump’s clownish performance on the witness stand in his NY fraud trial PROVES he has no defense on the facts. His combative, insulting, and non-responsive testimony is a sign of weakness, not strength. It’s a sign of fear & desperation, not confidence.”

Kirschner concluded that on Monday, we saw Trump doing “a whole lot of table pounding.”

Cheung quickly rejected anyone who thinks they can explain trump’s moods. In the pot calling the kettle black category, Cheung said that Kirschner “is a notorious trafficker of wild conspiracy theories and dubious legal analysis. I would expect nothing more from a clout-chasing MSNBC contributor.”

Cheung went on to rant, again rather disingenuously about “media whores (who) are always looking for their next grift — whether its book deals or cable news contracts — because they know their entire worth as human beings revolve around talking about President Trump.”

“Anyone who talks about President Trump’s mood has no idea what they’re talking about and are simply lying to make it seem like they know what’s going on. In fact, they are on the outside looking in, quite sad,” Cheung said. “This is the new normal — President Trump has been battle-tested. This operation has been fine-tuned since 2016. Dealing with these types of news cycles, you learn to get good at it. We have a full-spectrum response operation on the campaign that can deal with anything that comes our way.”

Cheung minced no words in responding to a July 31 story by ABC News about Gov. Ron DeSantis regrouping to overtake trump.

“Only desperate idiots and un-American morons would take the position the DeSantis team has taken,” Cheung said.

Once again, in January, trump stirred up another hornet’s nest of racism and xenophobia when he used a racist nickname to taunt Sen. Mitch McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao. Trump was inferring that McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, was linked with President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents.

Chao was trump’s transportation secretary until the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, after which she resigned from office.

On Dec. 28, 2022, trump was in typical smear mode when he tweeted without evidence that “something is going on with Mitch McConnell and all of the terrible and virtually automatic ‘surrenders’ he makes to the Marxist Democrats…Nobody can be this stupid. Perhaps it has to do with his wife, Coco Chow, and their BIG relationships with China — A historic conflict of interest like no other!”

The former president has long made racist comments about Chao, often referring to her as “Coco Chow” or Mitch McConnell’s “China-loving wife.”

“Does Coco Chow have anything to do with Joe Biden’s Classified Documents being sent and stored in Chinatown?” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Her husband, the Old Broken Crow, is VERY close to Biden, the Democrats, and, of course, China.”

Chow was justifiably insulted.

“If it were the n-word, or any other word, the media would not repeat it,” said Chow. “But the media continuously repeats his racist taunt. And so, he’s trying to get a rise out of us. He says all sorts of outrageous things, and I don’t make a point of answering any one of them.”

Cheung did his best to deflect and deny trump’s obviously racist comments.

“People should stop feigning outrage and engaging in controversies that exist only in their heads,” Cheung said. “What’s actually concerning is her family’s deeply troubling ties to Communist China, which has undermined American economic and national security.”

Chao immigrated to America with her family from Taiwan when she was just 8 years old. An inspector general report made no formal findings of ethics violations involving her family’s shipping business while she was in office.

In September, Cheung embarrassed trump after the sycophant posted a video regarding trump’s visit to a gun store in South Carolina. On Monday, Sept. 25, Cheung posted on X, formerly Twitter, that trump had bought a Glock firearm during his visit to the store, accompanied by a video of the ex-president expressing his desire to buy one.

“I want to buy one,” says Trump, as heard in the clip, either ignorant of the fact or unconcerned with the federal law that bars anyone accused of a federal crime from buying a handgun. The visit was supposed to boost trump support among those who support the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. The controversy heated up after it was confirmed that Trump had not bought the firearm, prompting Cheung to delete his original post and clarify the situation.

Sometimes even a professional double talker can’t take care of business.

In March and April, trump claimed at rallies that the leaders of unnamed South American countries are deliberately emptying their “insane asylums” and “mental institutions” to send the patients to the United States as migrants. Trump claimed in a speech to the National Rifle Association that he read about a doctor at a South American mental institution who said he used to be busy but now has no work to do because all of his patients have been released into the U.S.

Pretty dramatic, if trump’s claims were true. CNN and Factcheck.org checked it out and found no evidence about a South American doctor and mental institutions.

CNN asked Cheung for proof and Cheung sent links to news articles that mentioned nothing about South American mental health facilities being emptied under President Joe Biden, nor any quote from a doctor at any such facility. Cheung cited a report that late Cuban president, Fidel Castro, included mental health patients in the Mariel boatlift of 1980. But that was 43 years ago and mentally ill people made up a small percentage involved in the boatlift.

Not to be defeated, Cheung also highlighted a 2022 article from right-wing, fact-challenged website Breitbart News about Venezuela supposedly freeing criminals from prison to become migrants. Breitbart’s unverified claim made no mention of mental health facilities or doctors.

Trump likes to think of himself as macho and combative so it makes sense that he would turn to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Las Vegas, Nev. Cheung, 41, came to the trump campaign after a stint from 2013 to 2017 as UFC director whose prime responsibility was banning reporters critical of the organization from live events.

A native of Sacramento, Calif., Cheung began his political career in the administration of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He later worked on the presidential campaign of John McCain, who was insulted by trump, who skipped out of the draft with a claim of bone spurs. McCain was a decorated, former long time prisoner of war in Vietnam. But trump said McCain was “not a war hero, he’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, okay? I hate to tell you.”

Cheung has had an extensive though rather unsuccessful career advising various candidates. He served on the California gubernatorial campaign of Steve Poizner; the U.S, Senate campaign of the far right Nevada Republican, Sharron Angle; and Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhust’s run for U.S. Senate.

Cheung was a senior advisor on the 2022 U.S. Senate campaign of former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, who resigned in June 2018 amid allegations of sexual assault and campaign finance impropriety. Cheung was senior advisor to reality star Caitlyn Jenner’s 2021 gubernatorial campaign in California. Cheung also served as an advisor and spokesperson for former congressman Jim Renacci’s 2022 campaign for Ohio governor.

None of the Cheung-backed candidates won.

Cheung worked in trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns as a member of the communication staff, with the title “Director of Rapid Response.” His job was to keep the campaign “up to date on breaking news and pushing back on false or unbalanced reporting,” as determined by trump.

Cheung’s public relations firm, Solgence, was hired by the trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. The Daily Beast reported in July that Cheung was paid $130,000 for just one quarter in 2020.

As of 2023, Cheung also was the communications director of trump’s MAGA Inc. super PAC.

After the 2020 presidential election, Cheung was involved in the trump campaign’s shameful efforts to overturn the election because of baseless claims of election fraud.

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Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer