The relationship between the media and the U.S. government has always been controversial, especially when it involves the president. The last time a president was as blunt about his dislike for the media as President Donald Trump currently is, was during former President Richard Nixon’s tenure.
However, the reputation between the media and the government has reached a whole new level of transparency under the current administration. Since the very beginning of his campaign, Trump has constantly attacked the media by referring to them as “dishonest,” “disgusting,” “failing,” “the opposing party” and ”scum” among other slurs. He directly attacked specific news outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.
In a speech orated by Trump at the U.S Central Command where he was supposed to speak about the U.S military, he brought up terrorism and the media. He claimed the media was underreporting pivotal terrorist attacks because they “have their reasons.” Shortly after Trump gave this speech, the White House released a list of 78 reported terrorist attacks, claiming that most were underreported.
The media acts as the intermediary between the authorities and the general public. As expected, media outlets such as the Times and CNN quickly responded to the government’s claims by showing clips and providing links to the coverage of the attacks on the list.
Since it was a direct attack on the media, it is the responsibility of the media to respond to these claims, especially when these claims are false and can easily be proven wrong.
The media’s response invalidated Trump’s argument. All of the 78 attacks on the list provided by the White House were committed by Islamic extremists while other major attacks committed by white extremists such as Dylann Roof and Robert Lewis were left out of the list.
Trump’s executive order that banned refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries stirred a lot of controversy. Trump’s rationale for banning the refugees was to protect national security and prevent terrorists from coming into the country. Not only is this claim extremely dimwitted, but it applies a negative stereotype to all Muslims.
Trump and his administration’s efforts to portray all Muslims as terrorists have not stopped. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, recently addressed the attack on a Quebec Mosque where six people were killed. In his speech, Spicer made a reference to the president’s efforts and specifically addressed the refugee ban. He indicated that he thought the efforts to keep out potential “threats” was a “proactive” step that secures the “nation’s safety.” Such a reference was an obvious effort to relate this attack to extreme Islamist terrorist attacks.
It is clear that Trump’s relationship with the media is contentious; these extreme claims are expected from him at this point. They are also another way to gain attention from the public and get them to potentially support his executive order demonizing Muslims.
The president’s negative commentary against the media puts the public’s relationship with the media at risk. For the first time in history, a president is making direct correspondence with the public through social media, specifically through Twitter. This is the platform he uses to tweet about a plethora of political and non-political issues that are never actually verified.
As the intermediary between the president and the public, the media is responsible for covering the president’s actions and closely analyzing his actions and words in order to provide the public with facts. Organizations that have done their jobs and published information that may not necessarily be beneficial to Trump become antagonistic and dishonest sources to him.
Trump and his administration, since the beginning, have kept many details about their agenda secret. Whether it is to distract the public from bigger issues, to negatively affect the relationship between the media and the public or to gain the public’s support for his executive order, Trump’s claims against the media will be confronted by the media and backed with evidence. This is a quality that should be prized and a quality that the Trump administration has infamously lacked since the beginning of his presidency.