Continuing President Trump’s raging against the media, the Trump Administration recently barred CNN, The New York Times, Politico, the Huffington Post and some other news organizations from white house press briefings. This decision sparked outrage all over the U.S. and people are starting to wonder whether journalists will be able to report on Trump at all. I joined in on this outrage at first, but then I stepped back and thought about some things.
Trump is not the first president to have a problem with certain media outlets. Former President Barack Obama criticized Fox News multiple times during his eight years at POTUS, even saying that they could only be trusted to terrify old white people at a white house correspondents’ dinner. It was taken as a joke, but it also seemed like he meant it. Additionally, the Obama campaign kicked out some media outlets from Obama’s travel plane. Hillary Clinton’s campaign did the same during the 2016 election and White House reporters were not let in to some meetings with Obama while he was president.
Trump does seem to be doing this on a larger scale, though. While certain meetings were blocked to the media during Obama’s term, he never targeted certain news organizations by kicking them out entirely. I think it is safe to say that Trump has gone a little too far on this, but then that brings up the question of whether such a high-ranking official of government should be able to do this in the first place. How far is too far?
I think barring the media in any way is going too far. It’s true that many media outlets have bias, but they are still the only way people can get informed about what is going on in the world. Even online news comes from the same media that can be seen on the TV or in a newspaper. Many news organizations also have YouTube channels or livestream big events they are covering on their websites.
The media provides information about our own country as well as other countries, news organizations present information about new government policies, about people in powerful positions who are becoming corrupt or have screwed up, protests, causes, potential and ongoing wars, dangerous things and people to watch out for and much more.
All this is crucial to getting American citizens and residents informed and keeping citizens informed is key to maintaining our democracy. If the media cannot be trusted, how can people trust any of the information they receive? How can this country stay an accurate depiction of a democracy?
That’s what I’m worried about, especially with Donald Trump really pushing this idea that networks who report on him in a positive light, like Fox News, are the only accurate ones. To clarify, I’m not trying to rally against Fox News. CNN, which is on the other side of the liberal-conservative spectrum, is not exactly my favorite either. The problem is that one side of the spectrum was asked to leave and the other was not. To me, this is clear favoritism and should not be tolerated.
Therefore, I am still outraged that Trump calls media outlets “fake news” and stops them from attending white house press conference meetings but I am also outraged at Obama and Clinton for doing similar things. Making information sources out to be “the enemy of the people” is not a way to go, no matter how discreetly or outspokenly one goes about it.
Campaigns should not be allowed to suddenly not have a seat for a news organization on their campaign plane, especially if the organization has paid to be on that plane. Administrations should not be able to exclude reporters from meetings because they are supposed to be “private” or remove their places in press conferences because they are “fake.” All of these reasons are irrational and petty, not something one would expect to hear from the leader of a country. Maybe there should be a law against this sort of thing.
On another note, white house press conferences aren’t the only way to gain information. Journalists should still be able to do their jobs relatively well without having access to someone standing at a podium and talking. While this campaign against the media could be dangerous to democracy, it may be a chance for them to prove themselves as real journalists and maybe remove some bias from their reporting. After all, reporting the facts is supposed to be the media’s job.