Opinion: Protecting the press

Madison Newingham

The press is experiencing a very unusual time; President Donald Trump’s tweets have become news, and he’s made strides to tailor the news in his favor. Trump calls the media liars, and his constituents believe him.

Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker reported that in a meeting with The New York Times, Trump sought a better relationship with the publication because he was tired of seeing unfair treatment printed on their pages. This reflects the narcissism of our president.

It is cheap, distasteful journalism to run wild with stories about what Trump posts on Twitter. That said, it is important to study what our president is saying and believes.

But frankly, his tweets never really say anything reasonably important. We should not give him the attention he wants by tweeting nonsense about his weekly issue.

He is the president of the United States — one of the most important countries in the world. For him to use Twitter like a teenage girl, that is not news; it is gossip.

Unproven claims obviously are difficult to fact check. I would argue that the public already has done very well with countering Trump in any way.

For reasons such as our president slandering our former president, we must counter unproven claims by protecting the free press or we will relive the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts seen under President John Adams’ administration.

The free press highlights our democracy. We must protect our right to voice our concerns over bad governing and call out hypocrisy when we see it.

Unfortunately, free press is under attack. Trump has suggested limits which will inevitably violate our democratic practices.

We cannot begin to limit rights such as the press because it limits the voice of the people and a republic. In our democracy, we uphold respect for the voter, or at least that is the goal.

Without the voice of our people and our nation, what is the purpose of our government? It is intended to — and must — serve us.

In light of Trump blacklisting Politico, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and more, journalists must fight to be relevant to survive the next four years.

Journalists must continue to use online media and magazines because these are constantly expanding. Print newspapers are dying, and we must accommodate to the times to report the facts as we see them.

Future journalists need to recognize the ability to do their job depends entirely on free speech. We have not come this far to lose it to Trump. Nothing matters if we don’t have transparency, free speech and free press.

We are seeing a rise in conservative media such as Fox News, Breibart, InfoWars and now TheBlaze reporting their own truths rather than the truth.

Enemies of truth are politicians and these news networks that want to limit speech into a narrow lens. Trump wants power and publicity and will report whatever to achieve that.

He does not care about the truth, he cares about himself.

Public relations professionals and journalists must fact check and report what is true. We must stop reporting lackluster news. Kellyanne Conway promoting Ivanka Trump’s clothing line is not news — it is just sad.

These aforementioned networks do not care about the man left behind, they care about their man being in power; they care about having the upper-hand. They do not care about reporting the truth at all. They report what sells, and that is not real journalism.

Most news networks believed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win the election, so our journalism got lazy. To win back the trust of the people, we must be weary in siding with establishment practices.

Clinton was the establishment. She was polished, she had the right answers, and she seemed like the logical choice to many political scientists and the politically affluent.

The news relied on precedent to tell us how the entire middle portion of our country would vote, and it failed us.

Trump reiterated ridiculous statements about sexual assault, a physical wall and ethnic cleansing, and he barely faced lasting backlash.

We all assumed that states like Michigan and Wisconsin would vote for Clinton. When they started to fall, this marked the end of any practice relying on precedent.

The problem is many people who voted for Trump tend to be less educated and consequently less politically affluent, and we misguidedly predicted their states. Democrats thought the working class was a given blue vote, and we saw otherwise.

We can do better by being more active in our republic, by calling and writing to our congresspersons, by being locally involved. We can unite the Democratic Party rather than continue petty polarization.

Democrats must appeal to its wide range, thus giving progressive concessions. Democrats still are failing to adapt quickly to the future of the party.

We saw our traditional, scaled-down moderate politics fail, and we must respond to that. There is a reason Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders mobilized millions of new voters — including a number of millennials — and we must build off that.

We also need to be more transparent and honest with our constituents to earn their trust and push for policies that matter.

For example, we must be more united on the fight for civil rights and protecting the Affordable Care Act, should the current administration attempts to strip back protections and leave 24 million without healthcare.

The point here is if we allow the Trump administration to strip away our free press, we open the flood gates to corruption and hinder any effort for change. We will lose free speech, privacy, nondiscrimination policies and the freedom to practice religion or the lack thereof.

If we lose the press, we lose transparency, honesty and liberty. To sit back and watch this happen will enable political discrimination and the advancement of the few.

Madison Newingham is a columnist, contact her at [email protected].