Op-Ed: The Real Enemy of the People

Posted on: August 17, 2018, by :

By Jeff Turner

After nineteen months in office, I am still at a loss as to how Donald J. Trump’s base continues to support the man. After every mistake and blunder he’s made, the tariffs, caving to Putin, the extravagant tax cut for the wealthy, the family separations policy, their faith in him remains as strong, if not stronger, than ever. Indiana went for Trump by almost twenty percentage points in 2016, and in this red state and others around the country, among his base, Trump remains popular.

Why? How can anyone in their right mind still support this man? His strongman style of governing has made America the laughing stock of the world. Any and everyone who criticizes him in the slightest becomes the object of his ire. Just yesterday he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, a frequent critic. This was an unprecedented move for a U.S. President to take. But of all the people and institutions, the most frequent target is the news media. Trump has decried the news media as the “enemy of the people,” labeling any critical news items about him as “fake news.” And his base of supporters accepts everything he says as absolute truth, never wavering in their blind allegiance to a man who has brought this country to a new low.

Trump isn’t displaying the qualities of a strong leader, rather of an aspiring demagogue or tyrant. According to a Quinnipiac poll, 51% of Republicans share Trump’s belief that the news media is the enemy of the people. Only 5% of Democrats and 24% of independents share this belief, reflecting a deep partisan divide in this country, one that Mr. Trump has exploited and used to his advantage.

But Trump’s anti-media rhetoric as a whole is extremely reckless and dangerous. The media, it its own way acts as a check on the government, a vital institution. When corruption abounds or public figures and politicians abuse their power, it’s the media’s responsibility to bring the truth to light, as was the case with Watergate. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s investigation can be credited with bringing down a sitting U.S. President, and changed the entire country in the process. Watergate demonstrated just how vital the free press is to American society. President Nixon also despised the news media. However, in the age of social media, it has become easier for Trump’s “alternative facts” to be circulated and presented as actual truth.

I can see why Trump doesn’t like the news media, save for Fox News and Breitbart, which usually give him glowing reviews. Trump would rather have a country where no one criticized him in any way. Mr. Trump simply cannot take criticisms of any type. It’s the news media’s job to ask questions, and to question the answers if there is reason to do so. Countries such as China, Russia, and North Korea do not enjoy freedom of the press, their governments instead utilizing state run media, where those in power create the narrative to present to the people. Those three cited countries, and others that utilize state run media also often suffer from human rights abuses due to the media not having the independence to report on government abuses of power.

This is certainly the type of news media Mr. Trump would enjoy having in the U.S., one with no regard for the facts or objective reporting, where nothing is questioned and dissent is quashed. If it weren’t for the news media, we’d be living in an Orwellian nightmare. And if Mr. Trump were to have his way and go unchallenged, that’s the type of world we may wake up in.

I will concede this though. There is an anti-Trump bias present in many mainstream and independent news sources, though that is understandable given the current state of the country we live in. The partisan divide is stronger than ever. People are blinded to reality because of their faith in a man who cares not about their best interests, but rather his own. The news media isn’t the enemy of the people, Donald J. Trump is. The sensible thing to do would be to vote him out of office in 2020. The Founding Fathers allowed for a free press to insulate the country from someone like Mr. Trump. The news media is just doing its job. And Mr. Trump is doing a terrible job at his. The sooner 2020 comes, the better.

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