OPINION: Trump attacks on a free press are dangerous

By Chris Besik

We live in an age in which people are quick to make assumptions and don’t take time to analyze what it is they are reading or learning about.

Fake news has been a widely-discussed topic for a while now, and with such a volatile political atmosphere people are quick to jump to conclusions, usually the ones that best fit their narrative.  There is a lack of investigation into the news that individuals consume, and it is telling when certain incidents occur and are a direct result of ‘fake news.’

It doesn’t help that United States President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is loaded with anti-media sentiment, calling every news outlet who portrays Trump negatively as a purveyor of ‘fake news’.

New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN were all subject to Trump’s rants about being  without credibility and fake.

According to a recent Qunnipiac University poll, 52 per cent of voters trust the media while 37 per cent say they trust Trump more.

The poll also shows college-educated white voters and non-college educated white voters were evenly split between believing the media and believing Trump.

The poll also highlighted that 61 per cent disapprove of the way Trump talks about the media, while 50 per cent of voters disapprove of the media’s coverage of Trump.

“Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting,” the president tweeted.

For the president of the world’s leading super power to so briskly and loosely condemn anything that is critical of his party or administration is absolutely ridiculous. People must realize the importance of accepting criticism and can’t condemn stuff simply because it doesn’t agree with their beliefs or it damages their ego.

Critical analysis is extremely important for journalism; it is our job to be the watch dogs of politicians and leaders around the world. We owe it to ourselves and the public to strive for the truth and nothing but the truth. Media should remain un-biased and un-attached to any political entity.

Although some coverage may have been controversial, Trump and his camp have no right to condemn all of these outlets as a whole.

The Independent also reports that Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, who has been an avid critic of CNN and ‘fake news’, shared a poll from CNN on his Twitter account.

The poll was of course showing support for Trump and his policies because why would anyone ever share anything critical about the president and his policies that are calling for drastic change in one of the world’s leading super powers?

Instead when people criticize you, your actions or your policies your best bet is to call them ‘fake news’ and rebut everything that comes out of their mouth, at least in Trump’s case. Until of course they say something in favor of your beliefs or popularity, in which case they magically become credible again.

Even Russia is getting in on the action.

On Thursday, Maria Zakharova a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, slammed the media, mainly CNN, over their coverage of meetings between then-Senator Jeff Sessions (now Attorney General)and the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, who is known among top intelligence communities as a leading recruiter and spy for Russia.

CNN’s senior international correspondent Matthew Chance traveled to Russia to speak with Zakharova who defended Kislyak. When asked about alleged meetings between Russia and the Trump camp, she rushed off saying, “Stop spreading lie (sic) and false news!”

The resignation of General Michael Flynn as top security advisor also strongly suggested that there were some forms of communication between Russia and the Trump camp, yet the actions of Flynn and the Russians were deny, deny, deny. Until he was confirmed to have had communication by intelligence agencies, exposing him as a liar and a man of questionable integrity.

Without saying Sessions or Russia are guilty of interference in the American election, avoiding the media altogether and refusing to answer their questions is extremely inappropriate in our society. They are preaching a very dangerous sermon. Essentially you are saying if you’re not asking the questions I want to hear I’m not talking to you, and no one else should listen or indulge in what you have to say because you are being critical of me and I don’t like that.

The truth will set you free, unless that truth is a major foreign power (Kremlin) having a strong influence on the American presidential election, and you are guilty of collusion.

It’s not that CNN is the pinnacle of all news and doesn’t have faults. Like all news networks they are subject to individual bias and a liability to make mistakes. Just last January they were at risk of being sued by WikiLeaks because a commentator had called Julian Assange a pedophile. But the outlet apologized and acknowledged their mistake, which can gain back some form of credibility, showing accountability.

Which is more than we can say for Donald Trump, who possesses zero humility, does not believe in apologizing, or reflect on any of his blunders.

Even Tucker Carlson, a prominent Fox News anchor and Piers Morgan a famously controversial British journalist and former CNN employee, came to the defense of CNN, particularly their news anchors when their integrity was questioned by Trump and his supporters.

Back in November of 2016, CNN’s Christine Amanpour received the Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In her acceptance speech, she talked about her fear of Trump’s rhetoric. Her words are something I still reflect on today, as long as Trump continues to pollute Twitter and manipulate minds, people will never truly know for themselves.

“We’re not there [yet], but postcard from the world: This is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdogan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al,” Amanpour said.

“As all the international journalists,” she continued, “we honor in this room tonight and every year know only too well: First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating — until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison — and then who knows?”

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One Thought to “OPINION: Trump attacks on a free press are dangerous”

  1. Kirk Rintoul

    The media has earned the scorn of the president. They openly campaigned against him and we’re caught colluding with Democrats and rigging the Democratic primary in favour of Hillary Clinton. Trump is just dealing the verbal barrage the media has earned. Why would he pretend they aren’t doing everything they can to sabotage his presidency when the opposite is the case? The president gets to speak his mind. That’s in the Constitution. The fact that the public sees Trump, who frequently says false things, as more trustworthy than the media tells you all you need to know.

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