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Trump administration mad at the wrong media

by Aaron Cerbone - News Editor
Tue, Feb 28th 2017 09:20 pm
Photo taken from News Stuffs on Twitter

In a recent press conference held on February 16, Trump repeatedly criticized the state of the news. Major outlets such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Politico were recently banned from The White House press room.
Photo taken from News Stuffs on Twitter In a recent press conference held on February 16, Trump repeatedly criticized the state of the news. Major outlets such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Politico were recently banned from The White House press room.

President Donald Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with the media for much of his political career and the tension has only grown in the past week with a press conference on February 16 during which Trump repeatedly criticized the state of the news, investigative journalism and news leaking. 

Throughout the press conference, Trump insulted reporters and organizations, talked about cracking down on news leaks, interrupted reporters and said "fake" in relation to news organizations approximately 18 times.

Yes, the media is highly critical of Trump. A United States wherein the media is not critical of the president is a scary place. Journalists understand how vital the media is to having a running society; when it is under attack from the highest elected leader in the country, they will justifiably oppose him and his policies.

At the press conference Trump presented a paranoid theory which suggests the media is all against him and is willing to forsake journalistic integrity to attack him at any cost. This has progressed from him making comments during debates to him now shushing, harassing and talking over reporters while barraging them with slander and accusations.

He spent a lot of his answers circling around to shift attention back to how the media was reporting on the issues.

"I've never seen more dishonest media than the political media," Trump said.

For someone who claims to care so much about honesty, he does not hold himself to a very high standard in regards to accuracy. During that very press conference Trump demonstrated exactly what not to do when trying to appear accurate.

Trump incorrectly proclaimed that he had the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan with 306 votes and said the media was maliciously attacking his administration. A reporter fact checked the statement and called him out for it (Barack Obama got 365 and George H.W. Bush got 426.) The reporter asked why Americans should trust him which is a very good question. The president says the media lies about him and that he knows all the answers, but why should we trust him?

Trump's flimsy response shows how little he understands about sourcing and how untrustworthy anything he says is.

"I was given that information, I don't know, I was just given ... we had a very, very big margin," Trump said.

The fact that Trump thought this was an appropriate response is appalling. With blatant disregard for accuracy and truth, he tried to shift blame off himself and onto his source. This might be even worse because he admits that he just repeats information he is given or overhears. The fact that he has been skipping intelligence briefings is a red flag enough but the fact that his assistant and White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, previously ran Breitbart is even more concerning. Breitbart, the conspiracy theory site with a political slant, was notoriously selective with the information it would use in its articles and was closer to putting on a tin-foil hat than providing reliable political news.

Trump does not think he is responsible for his words. He is not careful of what he says as president of the U.S. Perhaps if he understood audiences as well as he claims to, he would understand that saying anything as the president puts it in a national spotlight and millions of people will believe what is said without fact-checking.

Other quotes from the press conference demonstrate how Trump distributes unverified information and does not understand how to properly cite sources.

This is someone who is insistent that the media be accurate and source articles properly. Don't you think if he is so adamant that the media does these things he, as president of the U.S., would do the same? 

"You have a lower approval rating than Congress," Trump said. "I think that's right ... I heard lower than congress." 

Sometimes Trump will tell us who he heard things from, but this time he did not. 

Trump said he received a "bad decision" during the travel ban process from a "circuit that has been overturned at a record number. I've heard 80 percent; I find that hard to believe, that's just a number I heard. That they are overturned over 80 percent of the time. That circuit, that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil."

Trump shows a horrible lack of regard for accuracy and sourcing here, claiming that he himself doubts the rumor he is spreading and then repeating the unlikelihood. Later he talked about it again, acknowledging that it may be false, yet still saying it.

"Again, may be wrong, but I think it's 80 percent," Trump said.

Later, he cited seeing, "various programs and various articles," backing him up.

Trump has not only spread insults and distrust of the media, he has attacked the very core of investigative journalism; journalists' legal protections. Trump shifted the attention off himself and Michael Flynn by calling people leaking information "criminals" and saying the press should be ashamed of themselves for printing leaked information. 

He was more concerned with the crime of leaking information than the crime of treason and while he spoke highly of Flynn he was disgusted by the fact that journalists would commit such a heinous crime as providing important information to American citizens. The attack did not stop at insults. Trump talked about how his new administration was going to crack down on whistleblowers and leakers. This could deal a harsh blow to the free press as the Trump administration shutters its windows and becomes even more secretive, implementing an atmosphere of fear to keep unfavorable information from the public. 

Although leaking is illegal it is not always a harmful crime and can do more good because it keeps the enormous power and potential of the government in check. While it is a crime, leaking can be an honorable thing to do it it helps the American people and there are plenty of cases where whistleblowers and leakers dramatically changed the country for the better.

Trump's attempts to eliminate the media's ability to cover him have continued as on Friday he barred CNN, The New York Times, Politico and The Los Angeles Times from a press briefing which was held off-camera. In a move that will undoubtedly be featured in 2060's history textbooks, the president of the U.S. barred news organizations he did not like from talking with him and his administration.

When unfavorable information comes out about the president and he fights back with restrictions on the press' ability to get unfavorable information about him, you should be terrified.

The president is complaining about being reported on and is restricting the free press. This is something you see the corrupt dictators of other countries doing and it is very troubling to see it happening in the U.S.

The news cannot be intimidated. Journalists and their organizations will need to work harder than ever to remain a voice for the people and a watchdog over the government. A free press is the core of a free country and we cannot let Trump try to take that from us.


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