The Power of the Press or Why Fake News is a Big Deal
The press in America has always been powerful. From the first hand-printed pamphlets, tacked on poles and distributed hand to hand, to the twenty-first century information explosion on the superhighway of multimedia, the American people have always wanted to know what’s going on. And they have always depended on the media, in whatever form it took, to tell them.
When the media presents facts as the foundation for their explanation of current events and reports on them fairly, then the people get the information they need to draw their own conclusions. But if the news is slanted and reported with bias, if it is politicized at the expense of the available facts, then the people have no way to judge what is true and what is not.
A free press (which now includes television, computers, smart phones, and social media) is essential to America’s fundamental character, and basic to our culture of free expression and independent thinking.
First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Weaponizing the News
Today, the nation is polarized, largely because the universal delivery of news is politicized to an extent never seen before. The news is armed with barbs of gossip, exaggerations, misinformation, and lies. As a result, the media is challenged almost daily by a President who calls it as he sees it and speaks his mind. Under this pressure, the media has become the mouthpiece for the opposition, promoting a socialist agenda and an ideology that is the antithesis of what America has stood for since the 18th century. The mainstream media embraces a radical liberal agenda that included open borders, sanctuary cities, diversity at the expense of democracy, and extreme racial politics.
It began with the lionization of Barack Obama, when he was running to become the first black President of the United States. The corruption of his administration ran deep, but was ignored by the adoring press. Then, in 2016, the failure of Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency over Donald Trump created an explosion of rage that expressed itself in every form of contempt for the new President. The hatred continues until today, nineteen months later. It has resulted in the most vile rhetoric against the President that this country has ever seen, enhanced by the vast reach of the press, the Internet, and social media. Calls for the impeachment of President Trump for unspecified ‘crimes’, slander against the President and every aspect of his agenda, and harassment of his family and members of his administration, are just the tip of the iceberg. Sabotage of this administration by holdovers from the Obama years is slowly being exposed in shocking detail, yet the mainstream press barely covers it.
At the same time, the press refuses to mention, no less acknowledge, the President’s accomplishments: the extraordinary growth in the U.S. economy since his inauguration; the rebirth of the manufacturing industries that have driven this country for generations but failed in the 20th century; the massive increase in the creation of full-time, career-building jobs in the trades and manufacturing; or the dramatic drop in unemployment. And they barely mentioned the growth of the nation’s GDP from Obama’s ‘new normal’ of 1% to a staggering 4.1% in the second quarter of Trump’s second year in office.
So intent is the press on destroying the President and his administration that they barely cover even the most important news stories of the day. Instead, they dwell incessantly on salacious gossip, filling up news hours with deep analysis of mindless stories of Trump discretions, either long past or pure fiction. The real and serious issues of the day – the crises in Iran, China, North Korea, Venezuela the Middle East – are all lost in the clutter of accusations and mindless criticism.
There are real stories of deep corruption that lie on the side of the Democrats within the remnants of the Obama administration – the Hillary tapes, the Benghazi cover-up, the phony dossier that began the Mueller investigation into Trump’s fictional collusion with Russia, the corruption within Obama’s Department of Justice and the IRS. These stories too are largely ignored by the mainstream media.
But the liberal press is tired of being called “fake news”, and bristled when the President called “fake news . . . the enemy of the people”. In response, the Boston Globe mounted a campaign to enlist hundreds of American newspapers to publish editorials on August 16, to demand that “The dirty war on the free press must end.” The New York Times called Trump’s anti-press comments “dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy”.
The Globe’s own editorial blast touted the “honorable profession and the President’s slander that they represented instead the ‘enemy of the people’…. The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful. To label the press ‘the enemy of the people’ is as un-American as it is dangerous to the civic compact we have shared for more than two centuries.”
But as articulate and carefully crafted as these editorials may have been, they left out the most important fact: that the press needs not only to be free, but also to be fair and honest.
In its quest to destroy the 45th President, the mainstream media in the United States has been neither fair nor honest, and with neither fairness nor honesty to support them, they have become nothing more than promoters of propaganda. The press publishes gossip in the guise of news, and harps on inconsequential and irrelevant stories, thereby obscuring the real news stories of the day.
The victims of this perfidy are the American people themselves, who believe they are getting the news, but are really receiving the fallout from the hatred that the media has for President Trump, for which they have abandoned their calling.
The Bottom Line
There was a time when journalism was an honorable profession, and coverage of sensitive news stories was sometimes dangerous to those who strove to write the truth, no matter what the cost.
Real News is based on research and grounded in fact. Today, too many so-called journalists give a pass to the research, ignore the facts (or make up their own), and write their articles with story lines that fall in line with their own political agenda, and that of their publishers. They are dishonest in the news they present, and they are dishonest in their protestations of fair-mindedness.
There will always be differences of opinion, discussions, and arguments about the affairs of the world and how best to deal with them. If the discussions are civil and people have the freedom to express themselves without fear of reprisal, then the nation that the founding fathers envisioned will still, 240 years later, continue to be vibrant and strong.
But if the discussion is toxic, hateful, and divisive as it is today, then the country – and the people who inhabit it – will suffer mightily. It is not the President’s criticism of the press that is dangerous to America, but rather the loss of honest journalism that is supporting division and generating hatred throughout the country. It is high time that the so-called journalists of today remember what their calling was supposed to be and return to delivering fair and honest news, without partisan politics and political agenda. By informing the American people of the news, freely, fairly, and honestly they will be returning to their mission and providing the American people with the Real News. The press demands its right to freedom of expression. Fair enough. But with freedom of expression also comes the responsibility to be honest and to be fair. This is so fundamental to the American experience that without it, America is doomed to fail.
It is high time for the press to return to the respected career of journalism in its highest form, not as an enemy of the government, but as a provider of honest information to the American people.
Cover Image: (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)