I had a startling realization the other day: Although I was angered and dismayed by President Trump's blundering blast against the media at his February 16 press conference, I was no longer shocked by such statements. Translation: Trump's war on the press has become normal.
Taken from the viewpoint of one who aspires to be a professional journalist, Trump's insistence that the "lying media" is the opposition party and now the enemy, is terrifying. At present I do not get paid to write. I do not work for a news outlet, I am completely unknown as a writer and reporter. I utilize this website to practice my skills, and for the sake of my mental and emotional health--a writer needs to write.
I see my aspirations, not only as the logical path based on my skills, interests, passions, and talents, but as my duty to my country and my fellow Americans. To be a journalist, while it is a choice I make and a path I crave, it is also a calling that cannot be ignored, despite years of being fearful of embracing it.
From the viewpoint as simply a citizen, Trump's hatred of the free press is a bleak beacon of horrors yet to come. I say 'horrors' wishing I could say the word with concerned hyperbole, but alas I say it with solemn acknowledgement of the frightening reality blooming on American soil.
I have become increasingly active on Twitter of late, primarily because following fellow writers--writers of fiction, poetry, news--brings me hope and comfort. Many of those writers have described, either in eloquent tweets or stunning articles, their feelings on Trump's war on the press with much greater skill than I do here--they've had years to not only hone their skills, but to be in the trenches of journalism and can see with more clarity what a war on the press means.
There are journalists who describe what they hear from Trump as akin to what they've only heard while reporting in authoritarian countries. Dan Rather shares post after post describing his perspective as a seasoned journalist on what is now happening in our country. The New Yorker has begun to advertise with the slogan, "Fighting fake stories with real ones."
All this is to say that Trump is waging war on America's free press, and journalists are not lying down and taking it.
Trump may tell us to sit down, but Jake Turx will stand up.
Trump and friends may dodge questions and call us liars, but Shepard Smith will look them right in the eye and say, "we're not fools."
The President of the United States may call us The Enemy, but if that's the case so be it. Journalists and journalism won't back down from a fight--in fact we're the ones risking our lives to make sure the world is aware when a fight does come to town. If journalists are now the enemy, then people like Carl Bernstein, Nellie Bly, and Melissa Block are war heroes. Dan Rather is the general and Charles M. Blow is the eloquent diehard who eggs us all on.
With all Trump has said about the media and the press, I don't think the warning knell could be any more clear than at Trump's kickoff rally for his 2020 campaign in Melbourne, Florida (the bizarre reality that he has begun to campaign again is a topic deserving its own post). There, after calling Obamacare "failing" and promised that the gang members and drug dealers were now being deported (a racist epithet if ever I heard one), he again calls the press "the dishonest media," claiming it has published "one false story after another." He claims journalists have no sources, and merely pretend to have them. He says, "They just don't want to report the truth," and says, "Their agenda is not your agenda," pitting the free press against U.S. citizens.
Never have I seen anything more terrifying.
A free press is the final check on government--it is the bedrock of a free society. Without a free press (no matter how much Trump chants win, win, win) we all lose.