Trump has a go at the press for doing its job

by Heather Robinson

The most singular and perhaps most important feature of our society – freedom of speech and of the press – is not respected by the people who wish to lead us.

By now most of the country that pays attention to the Presidential race has seen Donald Trump throwing a fit at reporters for asking him questions about where millions of dollars he pledged to veterans were. I’ve written this many times before; Donald Trump seems to simply not grasp that it’s the job of media to hold politicians to account.

Not that Hillary Clinton is any better at respecting free speech; despite her attempt this week to stick up for the media, let’s not forget she blamed a terrorist attack on a random filmmaker – betraying an even more disturbing tendency to lie and tendency toward authoritarianism than Trump’s.

In doing so, she and Obama made a mockery of freedom of the press, and acted like totalitarian despots throughout history from Hitler to Stalin to Mao. I’m not arguing they have motives as evil as the aforementioned, only that the impulses toward manipulating information, attempting to cover up the truth, and lying cover their backsides and advance their agendas is the same. As is their trampling on the principle of truth and transparency to the citizens they are elected to serve.

And there are reports that the Obama administration has resorted to what appears to be bribery of the press to sell the Iran deal and mislead the American people – or at least to spin its own agenda with regard to a highly sensitive matter of international security. Though I’m not sure if what various media outlets did in accepting funds from administration-connected nonprofits as part of what one Obama staffer admitted to The New York Times was a deliberate attempt to create an “echo chamber” of information in order to push through the Iran deal is technically illegal, it’s bad ethics, and reflects disregard for the role of the press as envisioned by the Founders in a nation where the First Amendment to the Constitution is that Congress shall make no law restricting the freedom of speech or of the press.

The press – and by extension, an informed citizenry – is supposed to hold public officials to account, not the other way around. and government is not supposed to be inventing ingenious ways to bribe reporters. Digital age it may be – but ethical it ain’t.

These “leaders” should not be blaming their failures on random citizens – but answering to the citizens for their failures.

Nor is the media above criticism. Sadly, it seems many news organizations are more concerned with the superficial elements of ethics than the deeper issues. While most media outlets I’ve worked for and heard about would disavow any open political bias – for instance a reporter declaring he or she is a Democrat or a Republican in the newsroom – they are not opposed and in fact nurture an environment of consensus on certain issues that results in biased coverage. And apparently, they are not opposed to taking money from institutions with an agenda to serve the present administration.

Regardless of your own political views about Trump, Clinton, or Obama, ask yourself: how can the press report objectively on elected officials if media organizations are knowingly or unknowingly taking large sums of money from nonprofits that are advancing the President’s agenda? This should concern Americans, regardless of who the President is.

It’s not clear to me whether all the media outlets that accepted money from the nonprofit the Obama administration was working with to influence the coverage of the Iran deal knew this nonprofit was working directly with Obama’s people. But the media should know better than to accept money from a group with a political agenda of any kind.

Good work, though, on the part of WAPO reporters for holding Trump to account this week.

He’d better get used to the reality the press is not here to serve him, but to hold him to account.

More to come.

This entry was written by and posted on June 1, 2016 at 10:35 pm and filed under Blog.