Amidst taking extreme stances on things such as abortion, immigration and healthcare, the new Trump administration has taken an alarming position against the media. Although Trump often criticized the “liberal media” while on the campaign trail, his administration appears to have launched a continuous affront against media on all sides of the political divide.
When six journalists were baselessly arrested at the inauguration riots, it was quickly apparent that the Trump administration’s relationship with the media would be noticeably different from that of the Obama administration.
It took barely any time for Trump to dive right back into his habit of publishing inflammatory Tweets on his personal Twitter account, calling both CNN and the New York Times “fake news.” In an interview, Trump called journalists “among the most dishonest people on earth.”
While these comments were frustrating to hear coming from the supposed leader of the free world, they were not dissimilar from the same sort of rhetoric that Trump used while on the campaign trail.
However, the gravity of the situation truly struck many Americans when chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon stated that the media should “keep its mouth shut.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”
For a comment such as this to be made by individuals of great influence in a country considered to be a paragon of democracy is unacceptable. It is of utmost importance that the media not back down at the threat of the Trump administration’s words.
The freedom of the press has always been one of the hallmarks of a thriving democracy. Unfortunately, the United States is no longer considered a full-fledged, progressive democracy because of an increasing distrust in the elected officials and public institutions which lead the nation. We cannot let the democracy that we are so lauded for deteriorate further by the media succumbing to the words of a bully.
Considering that Trump’s approval ratings are already the lowest of any newly inaugurated president, he needs to do whatever he can to gain the trust of the people. Engaging in a war with the media will only prove to be fruitless. It will simply isolate him even further from an already largely dissatisfied American public.
Words matter and words have repercussions. Instead of using them to constantly attack the organizations which work to keep the public informed, Trump should try to use them to bridge the deep divide among the people he intends to lead.
It is necessary that Trump works to be honest about his intents and his ways of accomplishing them. Moreover, it is vital for the sake of our nation that the media continue to be a vigilant watchdog during these tumultuous and divisive times.