51% of Republicans now think that the “news media is an enemy of the people”. This is a very dangerous opinion to hold and it’s all I can find myself thinking about this morning.
Nearly 350 news organisations published editorials today that defended the freedom of the press. Given the results of some recent polling, it appears as though now was the right time to do so. They blame Trump’s constant attacks on the “fake news media” as the reason for the mistrust, and I can’t deny that his mouth is the most likely cause.
Any rational person knows by now that Trump brands any story he doesn’t like as “fake news” — the facts don’t matter to him personally. Fox News Entertainment regularly pumps out opinion pieces and skewed statistics in favour of Trump, yet for some reason he never seems to brand these as “fake”.
I’m not saying that CNN and some other outlets aren’t guilty of putting an anti-Trump spin on things, but the danger lies with branding ALL negative Trump pieces as “fake news”. The facts, as best presented to us, don’t always support our personal bias, and we need to be okay with that.
For example, I know that Trump is currently polling well with the people who voted for him originally. I’ve seen some left-leaning news sources claim that it’s fallen, just because it’s dropped by an average of 2% over the last six months. Unbiased news outlets and individuals are saying that he’s just as popular, because he essentially is.
I also know that he’s just as unpopular with people who identify as Democrats as he has ever been; No change there. The “triggering” of the left via hard-right policy is what got Republicans to show up to the voting booths in the first place.
What’s interesting is that his approval rating among moderates and independents has steadily fallen over his presidency. The alarming thing for me is that when this is reported by an unbiased media outlet, its declared as “fake news”.
A democracy cannot exist without an informed electorate, and that means a variety of sources. Unless they did some Alex Jones-levels of stupidity, I would never call for Fox to be taken off the air. It’s providing a hard-conservative voice for people to listen to, and it’s their right if that’s the voice they want to hear.
Equally though, outlets that openly criticise Trump beyond what the facts (and the man himself) tell us — they also need to exist. Personally I prefer getting my news from a variety of outlets, so I don’t just become a vocal puppet for that particular organisation, but I know not everyone feels the same.
When Trump says things like the “failing print media” and “failing cable news television” he’s absolutely right — those mediums are nowhere near as profitable as they were ten or twenty years ago. Only, journalism isn’t failing, it’s simply adapted to a new form. Trump just wants his voters to believe that the medium of “journalism” is dead.
Through advertisers and subscribers, strong and decent news outlets continue to exist online. Good journalism is being done every day, by good people who just want to present the events of the day, as accurately as possible, to the American people. The best journalists keep their personal bias out of articles, but if Trump says something offensive it’s their duty to report it.
The 51% of Republicans who go as far as to say that the news media is “the enemy of the people”, a phrase thrown around by President Trump no less — which the fact that they’re willing to parrot him on such an extreme opinion is terrifying in its own right — those Republicans probably couldn’t imagine a world without the news media.
Let me try and help you out — although I doubt you’re one of the people who’re reading my morning warm-up blogs.
If the news media is the “enemy of the people” that means ALL news media is. Therefore — in a world without news — you’d either be completely in the dark about what the government is doing, or you’d be listening to a government-sponsored voice. For the sake of hyperbole, lets say that Trump has appointed his “good friend” Alex Jones as the face of this tax-funded, daily news broadcast; Available on Netflix, Hulu and YouTube.
“Good morning patriots! It’s another brilliant morning in these Great United States. The lizard-people journalists are no longer allowed to peddle you fake news and stuff. So now you good people can hear the voice of God directly! Beamed straight into your ears via government-owned satellites.”
“You may see on the twisted social-media that several people are dead in a mass-shooting — but don’t — you — believe — these — lies, okay? President Trump keeps a safe America, he keeps a better America — okay? Gun violence is a non-issue in this country and thanks to the banning of all private and publicly owned media companies we don’t — have — to — talk — about — it — anymore! Remember to visit the NRA website to renew your subscription today, before Obama can take — your — guns!”
“In real news, let me tell you how it is folks — I can not even express how well President Trump is doing, but God damn-it I’ll try. His approval rating is the highest in history, and wow — what a story. Everyone in this country has a job — okay? That’s the truth people, you can hear it now.”
“Now finally, the really important thing you have to know today folks is that if you hear someone talking — if you hear them so much as whisper that the words in this broadcast aren’t true — well I’m calling you to action right now patriots. I want you to take your rifle and shoot them in the street — shoot them where they mother-f***ing stand!”
“Have a great day America, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
A free press is a key element of a strong democracy, in my opinion. It’s how we receive the raw facts of what’s happening in the world, along with a variety of opinions. We then take this data into debates, discussions and conversations — in an attempt to make sense of the madness of it all. It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest thing we have to complete free-will and choice in the delicate system of society.
Branding news media as “the enemy of the people”, means that 51% of Republicans — Around 17% of the country — would rather words like the above paragraphs were broadcast into our homes each day, instead of the freedom and choice to consume a variety of sources.
And that, my friends, is just one of the reasons I have anxiety dreams every night.
Today is Thursday, August 16th and I’m around 2-3 weeks away from finishing the first draft of my YA dystopian novel!
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