Trump bans news organizations from press briefing
President Trump has taken the relationship between the White House and the press to the next level. Last Friday, during an informal press briefing, the White House blocked a number of news organizations from attending, including The New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, and Buzzfeed. These news organizations are those that have been the most critical of President Trump throughout his political career. It is telling, then, that the White House did allow conservative-leaning news sources, including Fox News, One America News Network, Breitbart, and the Washington Times, to cover the briefing. The approved list also included CBS, NBC, ABC, the Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. The Associated Press and Time were invited, but declined the invitation in protest.
The relationship between the president and the press has always been a tumultuous one. As the main link between the White House and the public, the media holds a tremendous power over the perception of U.S. citizens, a power that has worked bothfor and against every president. Gerald Ford’s klutzy reputation was given to him by The Washington Post with a front-page picture of Ford falling while walking down the steps of Air Force One on a trip to Austria. Even George Washington, a generally beloved president, worried that his famous Farewell Address would not be properly covered by the press.
Trump’s decision is only his latest attack in an ongoing battle with the liberal-leaning press. On Feb. 17, he publicly discredited a number of renowned news sources, tweeting “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” While on the campaign trail, he revoked press credentials from Buzzfeed, Politico, Univision, the Huffington Post, and The Washington Post, preventing those news organizations from getting press access at rallies and blocking them from press conferences.
These are news sources that have not been kind to Trump in their publications and broadcasts, and he has made it quite clear that he will not be kind to media sources that paint him in a more critical light.
The press, however, is a crucial player in the American political process. There is a very good reason that freedom of press is clearly laid out in the First Amendment—the press keeps the government in check. Newspapers and news stations are the link between the public and the president, and attempt to add some transparency to a government that is often run behind closed doors.
They hold the president accountable for his actions, and give the public an option to have an opinion.This is why there is a press corps at the White House, why the press must know where the President is at all times, why there are presidential press briefings almost every day. U.S. citizens need to be able to see a glimpse of what happens behind the carefully guarded doors of the White House.
Of course, President Trump does not seem to like being put in check by any person or piece of information. The news cycle has been littered with Trump’s ignorance and made-up facts and figures. From the fabricated Bowling Green massacre , courtesy of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, to his hiring of climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, to his multitude of sexist and racist comments, Trump has made himself quite easy to criticize.
Now, every other President has been slammed by the press at one time or another. America has lived through presidents committing adultery, making backroom deals, and leading us into a variety of unwarranted international conflicts. What sets Trump apart is his retaliation, largely over social media.
Whereas the media biases of other presidents have been assumed, but usually not outwardly confirmed, Trump has made it very clear that he only supports media outlets that support him.
The New York Times, for example, is a publication that has been around since 1851, has won 119 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper, and is the second-largest newspaper in the country in terms of circulation – to call it “fake news” is rather farfetched. But to Trump, the fact that the Times criticized him discredits over a hundred and sixty years of highly praised reporting.
What Trump doesn’t seem to realize is that as long as partisan politics exists, so too will partisan media. As long as conservatives exist, there will be news services tailored to conservative tastes, and as long as liberals exist, there will be news services tailored to liberal tastes. It’s a business –—news sources need to promote news that their target audience will consume.
Of course The Times will not typically support Trump, just like Fox News rarely supported President Obama when he was in office. The extreme bipartisan nature of our democratic system as it stands now means that at any given time, approximately half of the country disagrees with the White House, and that carries into the media. To a certain extent, however, these extremely divided sides keep each other in check. Where we have Breitbart and Drudge Report making wild claims on the conservative side, we have the Daily Kos and US Uncut making wild claims on the liberal side. If coverage of a news event seems a little biased in favor of conservatives on FOX News, a viewer can turn on MSNBC and see the same story biased in favor of liberals.
Being able to see and hear both sides of the argument across the liberal–conservative spectrum is crucial to understanding the views of the public that consumes this media. If the media only mirrored one side of the debate, which is what Trump seems to want, the voices of half of the country would be silenced.
The scary thing here is how childishly Trump acts with the half of the country that disagrees with him. By shutting out liberal media, he is shutting out the voices of half of his constituents and surrounding himself with yes men, and that seems to be the way he wants it.
But Trump is no longer a private businessman who can simply refuse to do business with people that disagree with him.
He is now the leader of the United States, and he presides over a country of many different people of many different political beliefs, a country that is currently very divided. Trump cannot bridge that divide or appropriately represent his constituents without hearing the criticism of half of the people he represents.
If the press is the voice of the public, then Trump is refusing to acknowledge the voices of half of his citizens by starting a battle with liberal media.
Instead of fighting his criticis, though, he needs to listen to them and allow them to have a voice in his country. He needs to hear what half of the country has to say, and consider that as guidance in leading people who disagree with him
No president will ever have the full support of the press, and that is okay. This country was built upon dissenting opinions and being able to openly express them. The media is essential for this expression.
Without dissenting voices in the media, media itself turns into propaganda. In order to be a good president and a good leader, Trump cannot shut out the press. Rather, he must force himself to listen.