War on journalism intensifies as Trump increases his aggression

Illustration by Becca Teichman

By Ariel McGee

Journalists have long been a group of people subject to criticism and violence, both state-sponsored and from the public. However, since the beginning of the Donald Trump presidency, these criticisms have been wildly intensified. He popularized the term “fake news,” a term that quickly gained popularity among his followers and is rampantly used against any left-leaning news organization. This term has allowed him to denounce any unfavorable information presented in the media as false: respectable and factual reporting has become something that can be mocked by America’s head of state.

Trump’s vendetta against journalists has reached a whole new level in 2018. He has repeatedly banned CNN and New York Times reporters from events that are open to the press for “inappropriate behavior” and being “dishonest” and “fake.” He uses his position against the media with impressive strategy, as both a distraction from major problems with his policies and a way to ban reporters who have been known to pose tough questions. It will be interesting to see how well Trump’s propaganda-type behavior fairs in the long run, seeing as there has already been heavy multi-party backlash to Trump’s suspension of CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House press pass.

The political climate in America has, with the help of Trump, become heavily focused on theatrics and less focused on the accuracy of information. Trump is the king of hypocrisy, constantly calling reporters liars, terrible people and hostile when it is clear that his main goal is to discredit the media in order to distract from issues such as the Russia investigation or his questionable legal past.

In the case of Jim Acosta, Trump and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders even orchestrated an accusation of assault. In a Twitter post on Nov. 7, Sanders accused Acosta of “placing his hands” on the White House intern who was in charge of passing the microphone back and forth at the news conference. Using assault as a viable defense for revoking Acosta’s press pass was a bold move from the Trump administration, which had just supported the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Free speech is under attack from a president who clearly says whatever he wants regardless of accuracy, but not without heavy nonpartisan resistance. In fact, Fox News has even offered its support for the lawsuit that CNN filed in retaliation to the revocation of Acosta’s press pass.

There is no question that the media and journalists are under attack in the U.S., yet the support that Fox News has offered to CNN has been a refreshing turn of events. Trump has shown the ability to increase tensions between the Republican and Democratic parties, but it seems that the effectiveness of his antics is wearing off — even among his most loyal media outlet. Trump will continue to discredit the media when it best suits him, but it is increasingly important that news outlets continue to show their support for one another regardless of party alignment. When the government fights the media, the media will fight back, but ultimately it is up to the American people to pick a side.

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