Trump’s Attacks on Media Are an Attack on All Media

The first amendment gives us freedom of the press, an idea which was revolutionary by 18th century standards but is now a defining quality of democratic countries. It’s not as if this right hasn’t been challenged throughout the years, but it has never been a president who so freely expresses himself on Twitter. Donald Trump has taken hypocrisy to new heights since his inauguration, calling for whistleblowers to be jailed and then declaring that investigators are on a witch hunt for him.

 

Trump’s stance on the media is one of consistency. He discredits establishment outlets critical of him and his policy while praising those that agree with him. To call these outlets “the enemy of the American People” on the grounds that they disagree with a president consistently polling at around 40% approval to date is a bridge too far. 

Related: For Donald Trump, Free Speech Is a Weapon, Not a Right

POTUS Lies

Does Trump really want to call out “fake news”? He should look no further than his own words.

No, Don, 40% is bad “at this time.” Presidents typically experience their highest approval ratings within the first 6 months to a year in office. During the 2016 General Election, polls consistently put him and Clinton just above the 40% mark.

Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.  This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune. – Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord 

There are both contradictory and false statements in one paragraph taken out of his statement on the Paris Climate Accord. The first is that “Non-binding” and “draconian” should not be sharing space within the same sentence when the meaning of those two words are direct opposites of each other. He was using both those words to describe the Paris Climate Accord. Also, his claim that the Green Climate Fund is costing the U.S. a vast fortune is false. As of the time we ended payment, we had contributed $1 billion of a pledged $3 billion. A billion dollars is more than most people will ever see in a lifetime, but by the standards of the estimated national budget, it is about 0.026 percent.

Cable news outlets have been riding a viewership wave in the second quarter and CNN is no exception. Their total viewership is up 25%.

If we are to use Trump’s standard for “fake news,” we might consider changing it to “news I don’t like” for clarity’s sake. It sounds funny because it is, but we must remember how serious this aggression is. We enjoy great freedom today in our expression, but what about tomorrow, should Trump decide to move his threats off of Twitter and into the real world?

The Role of Independent Media

As independent media and citizen journalists, how do we distinguish ourselves from the corporate-owned media that handed Trump the election on a silver platter? He received approximately 5 billion dollars in free media from large news outlets. MSNBC aired an empty podium waiting for him to show up at a campaign rally. Sean Hannity from Fox News defends outrageous behavior from Trump on a consistent basis.

Yes, there is a valid critique of corporate media, but Trump is not making it. He’s basing his media critique on who flatters and admires him the most.

Citizen journalists must hold themselves to the standard of truth. We can not employ the tactics of misinformation via omission because we fear a particular outcome. We should fight lies with truth, then speak that truth to power! In the words of the Progressive Army Editor-in-Chief and host of The Benjamin Dixon show, we can do “Both/And.”

Independent media cannot afford to ignore the damage Trump is doing to the free and open media. He’s coming for us too.

 

Read on The Progressive Army.

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