At War with the Press
Trump’s feelings towards the mainstream media (MSM) are no secret. With the exception of Fox News, Trump’s gone after most of the big-name network media outlets. The president called CNN “very fake news” during a press conference. Even during the primaries, he went after CNBC over the length of the Republican debates. Naturally, the media calls this an attack on the First Amendment, claiming Trump’s overstepping his boundaries. Conservatives, on the other hand, are rejoicing. For years, the MSM has enforced a narrative that simply doesn’t always coincide with the truth. But, in this particular case, who is in the right? Is Trump right to refuse questions from networks who habitually insult the intelligence of Americans? Does the President, or any member of government, have a right to declare war on the press? What does this mean to the average American?
To answer these questions, we need to analyze the benefits both sides reap from the relationship. Let’s start with the media. When Trump tells them to sit down and shut up, they become the victims. Suddenly, it’s not an attack by a rogue presidential candidate, but a command from the executive branch of government. It’s an attack on the First Amendment. It’s an Orwellian horror show. The MSM eats it up. In a deleted tweet, he even referred to the NY Times, CNN, and NBC as an “enemy ” of the American people. It’s not his place to do that, regardless of your beliefs. When MSM are the the victims, their voices carry more weight. As in most cases, the voices of the “oppressed” hearken more sympathy than the voices of the “oppressors.”
The media isn’t the only beneficiary of its constant verbal sparring with the president. The Right’s been bullied around by the media for years. When the president shoots the MSM down, it’s a victory. The smug leftists, who’ve lectured Americans for years, are being punched in the stomach. Not only does this help Trump’s popularity among right-leaning individuals, it continues to enhance his cult of personality. His most devout fans love his “can’t stump the Trump” attitude. When he refers to the NY Times as “failing,” his fans laugh and agree. He builds a reputation as a wild card in the white house, unafraid to take on lies and half-truths. As a conservative, it is nice to see uppity elitists slapped around a bit. I can see why the Right enjoys his jabs at media icons.
What it Means for Americans
It’s fun to watch, sure, but at the end of the day, should the average American really care what Trump accuses the media of, and vice versa? Yes, of course we should take an interest. There’s no reason to think Trump’s killing the First Amendment, but our unique jobs as citizens demand we hold our president accountable. When Trump “corrects” a blatant media lie, rejoicing should be in order. When he goes as far as to refer to the press as an “enemy,” we shouldn’t condone it as “just Trump being Trump.” What matters is our ability to ensure our Republic prospers, and searching for truth amidst a sea of “fake news” from both sides is part of our civic duty.