The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board
President Donald Trump’s Twitter has been a shrine of cringe-worthy rants, accusations and boastings since before he took his seat in the Oval Office.
But a tweet from Friday, Feb. 17 has us – and every news organization in the country – doing more than wincing in embarrassment.
In response to “failing” news outlets producing stories he calls “FAKE NEWS,” the president tweeted that such media (including The New York Times, NBC and CNN, to name a few) are not his enemy, but the enemy of the American people.
In a recent press conference, he assured his audience of journalists and media representatives that those sources of news were not only “failing,” but “very fake” and “bad.” His justification for making those claims?
“I know what’s good and bad. I’d be a pretty good reporter . . . So I understand it. So, because I’m there. I know what was said. I know who’s saying it. I’m there. So it’s very important to me.”
Aside from the president’s confusing and laughable assemblage of fourth-grade level utterances, the content of his speech is troubling, to say the least.
To defend his judgments of “bad” news reporting with statements meant to show his omnipotence is a testament to his arrogance and to the warped reality he inhabits – one in which he has the power and intelligence to control everything and be eternally right.
In that particular press conference, which took place a day before his Twitter blunder, Trump made it very clear that our nation is divided into groups of us versus them; the people versus the enemy; good versus bad.
After repeatedly cutting off a reporter to make snide remarks, he said to him, “The public doesn’t believe you people anymore.”
If he hadn’t made his opposition to the press clear enough, using the term “you people” surely eradicated any doubt.
While the baby-boomer generation may remember President Trump as an active “businessman,” most of the millennial generation grew up on the image of Trump’s harsh and ridiculous persona on “The Apprentice.” In other words, the millennial generation is aware of Trump because of his presence in the media, the reports of his various successes and failures in tabloids and entertainment magazines.
How, then, can someone who is only revealed to us through the media call that outlet – something that makes his fame possible – the enemy of the American people?
Furthermore, if journalists, producers, videographers, photographers and even web and print designers are the enemy of the American people specifically, does that imply they are un-American? As students of journalism, public relations and writing here at The Murray State News, we’re confident that our abilities and rights (let’s not forget about the First Amendment, President Trump) in educating the public and telling stories that must be told are far from un-American.
Initially, Trump’s statement may just seem like another inflammatory tweet. But the frightening reality is that he could easily begin regulating which news outlets are allowed entrance into press conferences and events – news outlets he’d trust to be in his favor.
Once he begins controlling public media in that way, we’re one step closer to being fed antagonistic propaganda in place of having the freedom to choose from varying reputable news sources.
If there’s one good thing to come of the president’s opposition to our efforts, it’s that he’s teaching us, as aspiring journalists, what not to do and what journalistic integrity and empathy does not look like.