Enemy of the People?

466172271The Enemy? This is precisely what our new President has called the media, and he’s 100% wrong. Scary wrong. Nixonianly wrong.

Here’s the very un-presidential tweet:

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

Mainstream media can be obnoxious, overbearing, and even slanted, but they are the essential to the American public. Every administration has had friction with the media because it is the media’s job to push. But they are not the enemy, nor are they failing. The media do not create lies. Media challenges what is told to the American people and digs for truth. One can spin the truth any way you wish, but there’s one truth, not an alternative one.

Our new Administration is so overly obsessed with defending its legitimacy that it is flailing and creating havoc.

The Media did not speak to Russia about sanctions. The National Security Adviser did, then lied about it. The media merely reported it.

The Media did not claim an Electoral margin greater than any President since Reagan. They reported it.

The Media did not claim millions of illegal votes were cast in last election. They reported it.

The Media did not claim a massacre in Bowling Green. They reported it.

(And BTW, wassup with Sweden?)

And so on….

It’s easy to take a cheap shot at the media, both left and right., particularly since they are not always blameless. The 24-hour news cycle makes constant reporting of “breaking news”, real and insignificant, seem endless. It’s often hard to dissect the marginal issues from the big ones.

But a few things are certain, at least to me:

1. Trump won the election. He won more electoral votes than Clinton, yet lost the popular vote by almost 3 Million votes, which does not matter since that’s not how we elect our President. No one is saying he stole the election (though I suspect the claims would have been loud in reverse). So please stop lying about the size of the victory and the illusory Millions of illegal votes. It serves no one and in fact diminishes your real victory.

2. Our relations with Russia is not a small issue. They are not our allies and have never acted in our interest. Whether they were successful or not, they tried to influence our election. That’s heavy stuff. And then backdoor discussions were revealed and then lied about, and that’s incredibly worrisome. There’s a stench about our approach to Russia from our Administration, one which leaders of GOP are questioning as well. That’s a tip-off that this is serious.

3. We are creating instability in an already unstable world by berating our allies and praising our adversaries. We also create chaos by lurching from one point of view to another in a matter of days—Two Chinas, No One China. Two State solution, No One. These are mega world issues that deserve thoughtful policies, not a superficial policy du jour.

4. Our country is not a mess. It actually was a mess years ago when we were at the precipice of a major Depression. While issues remain, unemployment is way down. Financial markets are strong. Crime is not at an all-time high. Immigrants and illegal aliens are not our enemies, though you’d think they are the cause of the so-called “mess”. There continue to be serious issues within the United States and throughout the world. Terrorism, of all kinds, here and abroad continues to be an issue. But making it seem that we are in chaos is not the truth. The sky is not falling, Mr. President (unless you make it fall!)

Media provides an invaluable service to the American People, regardless of the party in charge. They discover truths that those in power would rather bury. Interestingly FOX News was not included among the FAKE NEWS tweet and though they clearly lean right in their reporting, they too are questioning the media attack strategies of the new Administration. Furthermore, our Administration is distributing a 25-question “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” meant to ascertain our feelings about the media. It is a garbage research of the highest order. Wise American should disregard such a flawed piece of so-called research.

I have always respected the media. I believe in the Dignity of Journalism and respect those who make their living reporting the news. On the other hand, there are times where our media falls way short. That needs to stop. Editorials need to be caste as such. Facts need to be delivered without spin.

But blaming the media for the failings to date of the new Administration is a bad strategy (and not a wise one either). Senator John McCain understands this well. Though he says he hates the media, he went on to say, “When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press,” McCain said. “And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.” Ouch.

One thing is certain: Administrations come and go, but the media remains. We should all be thankful for a strong and independent media. Personally I trust them to a far greater degree than those that attack them as liars. The Media are not the Enemies of the American people. They are our Friends.


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