Another alarming news emerged based on US President Donald Trump’s tweet about some media companies. He recently tagged some top media outlets, specifically CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC News and The New York Times, as “fake news media.” Then, he made things worse when he labeled them as “the enemy of the American People.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Does this mean that freedom of the press would soon collapse?
The White House Defense
Naturally, Trump’s camp defended the statement. The White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus clarified the whole thing during the NBC program “Meet the Press,” according to The Guardian. He claimed that Trump still follows the First Amendment. That means, the US president still believes in free press.
A Dictator’s Move
Some people haven’t noticed it yet, but Trump considering the media as the nation’s enemy is quite similar to the notorious dictator Josef Stalin’s move in the past. Stalin was a violent and cruel Soviet dictator who killed millions of innocent people.
One of the public officials who expressed disappointment out of Trump’s tweet is former president Barack Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Tom Malinowski. The American diplomat considered Trump as a “petty tyrant.”
Senator John McCain also commented against Trump. He believed that Trump’s move is the first step to dictatorship. He explained that a classic dictator act based on history was shutting down the media or press.
Protection of the Press
Freedom of the press is a big deal for the Supreme Court in the United States. The court even challenged public officials that libel can only be proved by the strongest facts and evidences. If the news is true, it is definitely not libel. Justice Hugo Black stated that protection of the press is essential because people need to be informed all the time.
Sadly, some studies claimed that half of the US population already believed that the media already celebrates “too much freedom.” According to the Gallup poll’s recent report, majority of the Americans don’t trust the press anymore. The Fourth Estate was designed for public information – but the public is starting to reject it.
One trigger for the hate the media is getting nowadays is the rise of many outlets that freely voice out their opinions regarding certain issues. Many Americans find something that disagrees with their principles and views, and they immediately label it as biased or false. That’s why Trump can definitely convince a lot of people if ever he would decide to finally put a stop on free press.
The press must do everything in their power to change what most Americans think about them nowadays. Maybe if most media outlets would report both the good and bad in the government, trust from the public would be gained once again. But for me, there is really nothing wrong about spilling the truth no matter how risky and disruptive it is to the administration. If all else is bad already, we can’t get something good out of it. There’s nothing left to do but inform the people because that’s what free press is all about.