By Nick Amon —
A new age is upon us. An age where media outlets and news organizations alike have become a target of not only our wet-eared Oval Office, but generally anyone who feels information that’s being reported doesn’t fall within their political preference. The age of “fake news” has arrived and the conversation surrounding the matter has begun.
Whether it’s President Donald Trump or his vociferous press secretary Sean Spicer, the Oval Office has armed itself to fight against this age of “fake news.” Many in Trump’s office, including himself, have made it clear they will not entertain the idea of misleading coverage regarding their actions. Remember that press conference Trump held in mid-February? Nearly an hour was dedicated to warning any news organization which threatens to take on Trump during his time as president.
In this new administration’s opinion, what exactly is “fake news?” Well, if we’re using Trump’s rhetoric, just turn on your T.V. and find out.
According to Trump, major media outlets such as the New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS and CNN are considered to be “fake news.” Trump believes this so much, he’s labeled these outlets as the “enemy of the American people” and my personal favorite, “the opposition party.”
When it comes to “fake news,” you would assume when Trump and his subsidiaries reference it, the articles and coverage they’re speaking of are riddled with lies. That isn’t the case. Although many of the media outlets are skeptical of his policies and behavior, this doesn’t mean their reporting is fake.
The media criticizes politicians and presidents alike. However, what’s different in this administration is Trump has personally demonized any media outlet that produces content even relatively skeptical of his office. Say something that he disagrees with? It must be fake news.
There’s nothing wrong with classifying things for what they are. If news stories are literally based on false narratives and sensationalized events, they should be considered fake. However, the underlying problem of all this is the stories which are blatantly fake aren’t the ones being called out by our president and his office. Why is this? The new administration isn’t interested in separating fact from fiction. They are interested in separating the stories which coddle the president from those that hold him accountable.
As if the president’s recent autocratic rhetoric hasn’t been scary enough, according to a recent Emerson College poll, over half the country said they trust the White House over the media. What’s even more compelling is Kentuckians are following suit. According to Allison Grimes’ Kentucky Civic Health Index, over half the Kentuckians in the state distrust the media – something that could’ve possibly helped Trump take home our Bluegrass state back in November.
De-legitimizing the press is a dangerous path to take for any president. Not only does it scream that you feel as if you’re above those whose job it is to hold you accountable while in office, but it foreshadows a future of tightening restrictions on the first amendment.
Since the first amendment has such a pivotal role in creating a viable democracy, Trump’s assault on the press should raise red flags for everyone, regardless of political affiliation. Even former Republican President George W. Bush understands the importance of having an independent media, saying “Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”
Funny enough, many would argue Bush was an enormous target of the media during his time in office. What’s important to ask is, did Bush throw temper tantrums at the media who criticized him? No, he continued to do his job and acknowledged the importance of media in our society, regardless if he was in their favor or not. Maybe Trump should take some notes.
No matter how critical I may be of the guy, Trump has managed to teach me a few things. Not only has he taught me spray tans don’t look good when you’re 70 years old, he’s also taught me that “fake news” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually fake.
He’s taught me that to convince the public what you’re doing is right, you don’t actually have to be right. Instead, what you have to do is undermine the credibility of those who say you’re wrong, and in return, put the attention back on them. Although I may not be a supporter of the man, I have to admit, he sure does have a few things up his sleeve. Scarily enough, I think he’s just getting started.
File photo / The Louisville Cardinal