It’s possible there isn’t anything Trump loves more than a Twitter battle--except maybe a Twitter battle with respected media outlets.
Trump’s latest was to release a storm of tweets against the Washington Post and New York Times.
Of course, this isn’t the first time he has lambasted the media. Denigrating newspapers, journalists, journalism at large--it’s been one of his major themes, both during the Presidential campaign and since he won the election. It is obvious by now that he’s not going to let up on his assault against the free press--and that is terrifying.
It’s horrifying enough to see the president of the United States of America take on an outright war with the press. That horror rises to a heretofore unfelt, unknown, utter terror to see American citizens falling for this war.
Every day I see it: comments about how the mythical “media” is lazy, dishonest, biased. I even see Trump opponents blaming journalists for Trump’s win. I see people complaining that journalists utilize hate-mongering, saying things like the Muslim ban isn’t that bad but the media is overreacting and making it a bigger deal than it is.
As someone who aspires to be a professional journalist, I take these insults personally. As someone who works hard to read reliable and well-sourced newspapers, I am frustrated at these attacks. As a citizen of the United States, where we are supposed to be granted the freedom of the press, I am terrified this rampant (and often incoherent) distrust of journalism will result in limitations of our freedom.
The “media” is not the enemy. Propaganda from President Trump and his cohort of Breitbart News supporters--that’s the enemy. Fake news--what is rightfully called propaganda--is real, but it’s not new. It isn’t embedded in the New York Times or NPR. Because Trump doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s propaganda. Because many responsible and professional and ethical journalists tell the truth, and put the onus of action onto citizens, doesn’t mean the media is dishonest or overreacting. Because the president says it, doesn’t mean it’s true.
It’s easy to think the new administration isn’t so bad--maybe it feels safer to think that way. But the new administration IS that bad. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Putin. What do these men all have in common? They are authoritarian figures who repressed the freedom of the press, and stimulated distrust of the media. Sound familiar?
If the people doubt the current media, it is easy to put a government-controlled media into place. And when the government controls information, the people lose--always.