The wild jostling and verbal jousting between the President and the press is grand entertainment. The insults flying back and forth seem unprecedented, until one reads reports from early American politics.
The truth is, journalistic ethics as modern society knows them, are a rather new development. Its rise came out of the Victorian Age, along with social consciousness, child labor laws, and other products of a society becoming wealthy enough to care. That society now is reverting to a prior state is disturbing, and is a reflection of a different type of phenomenon, a general devolving of society.
While “Fake News” is not new at all, it did take a hiatus of sorts. For a time, for most journals ethics took precedent over loose facts. The flat footed reporter was seen as an itinerant friar in the service of truth and the public. There was a reason a reporter was chosen as the occupation of Clark Kent. Opinions were once mostly relegated to the editorial pages of newspapers, and later the end of show commentary on TV news: devices meant to divide the news from opinion pieces. These lines have become increasingly blurred to the point one is opinion scattered with facts, and the other facts intertwined with opinion and spin. Not only this, they come one after the other in a seemingly random pattern. Consequently, opinion and news are now distinctions without a difference. While some would claim that reporting has always carried in it the biases of the reporter, the present blatancy, and naked disregard for even hiding such, is a throwback to before the invention of ethical journalism. .
Another new development is the unfounded arrogance of those in the news industry. In response to Trump’s criticism they cry not only foul, but claim censorship. Showing the bravado of a mind numbed junkie, they somehow think they have a monopoly on criticism. For them to rail against the President is Freedom of Speech, for the President to do the same back is fascist in their minds. Elevating themselves to the level of gods, they act as they’re beyond repute. Of course, they are not.
Freedom of the Press is not an exclusionary right, but merely an extension of Freedom of Speech. Something everyone has a right to, even presidents. To infer that Trump is ignoring the Constitution by calling CNN fake news, or the media liars, is to show fundamental ignorance of the Constitution and American founding principles. Not surprising coming from a liberal tilted medium, but disappointing all the same.
This present uppity high minded arrogance is also extremely hypocritical. While Trump supporters have inferred banning of unfriendly reporters from press conferences, he hasn’t gone as far as Obama. The former President cajoled and threaten the press in a much more blatant. Unlike Trump, his attempts to control the press did amount to attempted censorship. The iconic liberal reporter Helen Thomas said, “Not Even Nixon Tried to Control the Media Like Obama.” She was not alone in that opinion. James Risen of the New York Times also called the most anti-press since Nixon, and a league of legal experts agreed. In fact, the list of anti-free press antics under Obama are more fitting to a Banana Republic. His administration jailed reporters, wiretapped a major news outlet (AP), threatened to withhold White House access, and generally bullied the media with only minimal backlash. Even Democrats like Lanny Davis and Bob Woodward were not immune from White House threats of retaliation. In contrast, Trump has only called the media liars and fake news.
None of this is left totally unnoticed by most Americans. It is not that the public is so well informed now, but they do know how modern press coverage makes them feel. After reading the slimy headlines of the New York Times or Washington Post, or watching morally bankrupt news reporters, many feel they need to take a bath. The result is a press that enjoys the same level of respect as snakes, spiders and rats.
Despite this, the media is not only staying the course, but stoking the boilers. The MSM does seem to understand they are committing suicide. So wrapped up in conveying an agenda, they are losing even more credibility. Having not learned their lesson from the election, they are undermining that which they seek to accomplish. If, in response to Trump’s hyperbole, they showed an overly even handed approach, it would be the President left with egg on his face. Instead, the public sees and reads headlines that are so overtly biased that they elicit sympathy for target of their vitriol. Luckily for the President, there is little chance of the press changing its spots anytime soon. He can beat on them all he wants, as people have little sympathy for the plight of rats.
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