Often times, the media and journalists serve an all important role in checking the power of government by keeping the people informed through their vigilance and investigative reporting. But while the press watches the government, who watches the press to ensure their integrity?
Over the past few decades, the profession of real journalism is slowly being eroded in favor of a corporate regime that remains infatuated by ratings and indifferent to reality. What determines a story’s worth now is whether or not it is viral and if it will boost ratings. But what’s worse is that partisanship has slipped back into the newsroom as America’s top newspapers and cable networks slowly morph into propaganda arms of the Democratic Party.
Reporters are supposed to be tough and should ask hard questions, pressing our leaders for the truth and keeping them on their toes. But while reporters must be tough, they must also be fair. They should be quick to nail our leaders when they do wrong, but even quicker to commend them for doing something right. Today’s reporters however, especially those in the employ of major networks like CNN, seem more adept at “gotcha journalism” where they wait for slightest slip-up and then go haywire with their reports, twisting the original incident out of proportion and magnifying it. And no one has been a greater victim of this than President Donald Trump.
Now Trump is far from the first Republican to face a hostile media, as it seems most mainstream media networks have an allergy to Republicans that keeps them from being fair and unbiased in their coverage, except of course if a Republican is helping them take down another Republican. But the liberal media networks have never been more shameless and flaunted their despicable bias then in their attacks on Trump and his family, holding him to rigorous double standards that vanished for Obama and Hillary.
For example, Trump gets a lot of flak from the mainstream media networks for characterizing them as “fake news” and attacking their reporting. However, what no major news network will note is that President Obama was also guilty of the same behavior towards Fox News. Here is just some examples below:
“I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls. If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me, right? Because the way I’m portrayed 24/7 is as a freak…..I guess the point I’m making is that there is an entire industry now, an entire apparatus, designed to perpetuate this cultural schism, and it’s powerful.” (New York Times, 10/19/2008)
“[Fox News] it’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country.” (Rolling Stone, 10/14/2010)
In addition, President Obama had some strong words during an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News in 2014 regarding some of his administration’s scandals. See the exchange below:
O’Reilly: Do you think I’m being unfair to you, do you think I’ve been giving you—
Obama: Absolutely. Of course you have, Bill. But, I like you anyway, Bill.
O’Reilly: Okay, but—give me how I’m unfair.
O’Reilly: Give me how I’m unfair. Come on, you can’t make that accusation without telling me.
Obama: Bill—we’ve just run through an interview in which you asked about health, uh, health care not working, IRS where-where we, uh, wholly corrupt, Benghazi—
O’Reilly: All right.
Obama: Right, so the list of issues that you talk about—
O’Reilly: But these are unanswered questions—
Obama: Yeah, but-but-but they’re defined by you guys in a certain way. But this—look, this is okay. This-this is—
And the interview goes on from there. Obama never actually called Fox “fake news” but he made some of the same insinuations about Fox that Trump has been making about CNN, and yet here, not one of those other major networks accused Obama of an “attack on the First Amendment.” And when looking at the other side of the coin for CNN, there are scores of instances where CNN has been involved in clear controversy. First, there’s the incident when a CNN staffer leaked questions to Hillary Clinton of a debate between her and Trump. Then, there’s the instance where BuzzFeed published a dossier on Trump’s “Russia” ties that was completely full of unconfirmed information with anonymous sources, compiled by a shady source.
And most recently, there’s been the issue where CNN had to retract another article on more claimed “Trump-Russia ties” which also proved to be false and unconfirmed. The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN have all been benefiting from these “leaks” and “anonymous sources” that have kept feeding them supposed scoops on Trump. But I am willing to bet you that these journalists wouldn’t be so cavalier with the authenticity of these reports if they were writing about a President Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama.
Instead, the mainstream media has played the childish game of trying to hit back against Trump for his accusations by shaming and savaging him at every turn. For example, the media loves to mock President Trump’s approval ratings. Currently, Gallup polls Trump’s approval at 37% yet according to that same source, television news has an approval rating of 24% and newspapers have an approval rating of 27%. This means that the majority of Americans trust Trump more than they do CNN or the New York Times, putting the press at a not so advantageous position when they cry that Trump is ruining their image.
In reality, Trump isn’t to blame for the massive amount of public distrust in the press, it’s the press itself that is to blame. And by criticizing CNN for being fake news, Trump is not damaging the First Amendment right to a free press, and I argue that the First Amendment is actually being undermined by the fake news reporting done by organizations like CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, or the Washington Post.
When a once reputable news organization like CNN turns away from objective reporting and adopts a conservative-bashing tabloid-style form of reporting, they not only undermine their own credibility, but they begin to undermine the credibility of all mainstream media. Politicians will always have issue with the way the press covers them, but when the American people lose their trust in the American press, their role in society becomes forfeited. It is another “boy who cried wolf” story with the same ending unless something changes. If groups like CNN and the New York Times want to lose the “fake news” stigma, writing another anti-Trump hit piece will not do it. Instead, they need to go back to reporting the news and leave the political attacks to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.
Follow Publius Tacitus on Twitter at @PCTacitus