The Denome’s Advocate: Trump vs. the media

In my drawers of clothes, I have a shirt that I bought two years ago at a journalism convention in Orlando. In the center, it has the phrase “45 Words” in big type, with the First Amendment written in it’s entirety under it. The five freedoms of the First Amendment, speech, religion, press, assembly and petition, are highlighted in bold yellow lettering.

The lack of the third of those rights is quickly becoming a reality in America.

Two weeks ago, President Trump took the media to task, first denouncing anonymous leakers from the White House who provide the press with information, then outright banning several major outlets, including Politico, the New York Times and CNN from an informal press conference, under the reasoning that these outlets publish fake stories about the president.

In the ultimate double standard, however, Breitbart, a right-wing news organization known for running falsehoods and provocative stories, was allowed into the event.

It doesn’t seem the president has realized this yet, but you cannot pick your own facts and reality. If that was the case, I, for one, would instantly pick a completely different president, Vice President, cabinet, Congress, Supreme Court nominee, Speaker of the House and governors in the majority of states.

Unfortunately, things don’t work that way, and regardless of who the story comes from, be it an anonymous White House janitor or Mike Pence running his mouth off to spite his boss, said story should be printed. Once printed, it should be analyzed by watchdog groups and fact-check organizations, such as Politifact or, to test its veracity and avoid actual falsehoods from spreading across the internet.

Not only have many of these leaks Trump is attempting to crack down on been proven true, such as the president’s Russian ties, but simply denying the existence of what the leaks provide is extremely dangerous. A White House that is secretly in cahoots with the Kremlin could allow more Crimea-like crises to occur in Eastern Europe, or worse, a power-hungry Russia infiltrating the U.S. government beyond just a friendly president.

And that’s not even mentioning the immediate domestic dangers with a lack of free press. The media reports everything from daily congressional attendance to major scandals, so long as they have relevance to the rest of the nation. Losing this means the public losing the knowledge of even the most basic government affairs in Washington.

As I have been told many times at convention seminars or by fellow student journalists, the job of a journalist is to keep the public informed. Under Trump, however, journalism is becoming a struggle between praising the president and losing press credentials.

It’s ironic that this whole time, the main force driving Trump’s war on the media is him looking to disassociate himself with Russia. Because when the aforementioned scenario happens, the U.S. will begin to look at lot more like the Soviet Union.