This post started as a simple Facebook status that I planned to share on The Teapot Journalist Facebook page, but by the time I finished, I realized I might as well expand it and turn it into a proper blog because it is such an important issue.
The New York Times shared an article (as have many others) regarding Trump’s latest attack on the press—primarily the revocation of Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials after an terse interaction during a news conference (but also verbally attacking two black, female journalists—and yes, I do think it’s important to note both their race and gender).
The reason I am choosing to address this is because of the many Americans who regularly express concern and fear about losing their freedoms—usually in relation to guns, taxes, and other choices they want to make for themselves. Often, they follow their arguments with the statement that if we lose one freedom, what’s to stop another freedom from being taken away?
I agree. When it comes to freedoms and limitations, there are many angles to consider. But, the one that is continually overlooked is the constant attack on the press—a Constitutionally protected entity intended to provide the people with the truth of what is happening at local, national, and global levels.
I, like many others, have grave concerns about the way money and power manipulates our news sources—particularly in the mainstream media. Filtering headlines, sources, and mixed messages can feel like a full-time (and exhausting) job. Personally, I am struggling to find sources, even “underground,” that I can trust at any level because the governments and chess board manipulators at all levels work so hard to make their propaganda the diet of “the people,” rather than truth.
However, especially as a journalist, I believe the Press has a place and purpose in society which ad hominem attacks and constant cries of “fake news!” do not help them fill. If we genuinely desire change, a more productive approach is to think critically and hold journalists to a higher standard with the intention of seeing the Fourth Estate rise up with integrity.
For those concerned about losing freedoms, the revocation of Acosta’s press credentials and threats of similar action against other journalists should go on that list of things about which to worry—and speak up about. Freedom of the Press is a Constitutional right that, regardless of your opinion of one news source or another, if curtailed has the potential to to open the door to many other valued freedoms disappearing.
Don’t make the Press the enemy. Raise your expectations and productively challenge them to raise their standards.
(I will note the irony that the New York Times is sharing this story after they essentially pushed Chris Hedges out of his position with them when his journalism put the NYT in a bad light by challenging the American myth of nationalism and that war and violence are necessary for peace.)