There are a lot of things to be said about Donald Trump, but the one thing I think we can all agree on is that he knows how to make a lot of noise. Since becoming commander and chief, Trump has caused multiple media commotions as a result of his actions.
There was his hastily implemented (and offensive) immigration ban, his nuclear briefing held on the patio of a public restaurant, and then that little diddy when he accused former POTUS Obama with wiretapping, without a stitch of evidence.
And while each of those is news worth (and frightening) it’s his attack on the media itself that is not only making the news “news” but is upending how we deliver and digest the news. With my recent venture, The Bullet, I’m feeling and reacting to the fallout every day.
So what’s happened? Last month, the White House barred a number of major outlets from attending an off-camera press briefing with press secretary Sean Spicer. At the door of Spicer’s office, reporters from CNN, the New York Times, Politico and the Los Angeles Times were denied entry (kind of like the anti guest list). Instead, a handpicked group of reporters from mainly conservative friendly outlets were ushered into the gaggle.
Just to put it out there this not traditional White House protocol. In fact, established news sources have never been stopped from attending White House press events before.
Preventing these news sources from attending the gaggle was problematic for two main reasons. First, the Trump administration made it impossible for members of the free press to do their job (First Amendment anyone?).
Second, it created a level of disorder within the media that you could only compare to the scene at your local Target on Black Friday. The coverage that followed was distracted. Instead of covering the content of the press briefing, news sources reported on the controversy of denying these major news sources entry.
Was this an incident that needed to be reported on? Definitely. But did it distract from the actual news itself? Yes. Google the event and let me know how many sources come up that actually covered the press briefing itself. Intentional? Makes you wonder (I’m wondering).
By far the biggest disappointment of this event was that the general public lost out on valuable information that they were entitled to. They deserved to know what happened in the press conference but instead only heard of the conflict between Trump and the media. This has become a trend that we are unfortunately seeing more in our news coverage. And it’s a disservice to the media, and most importantly to citizens who deserve to get the goods.
Trumps war on the media began during his presidential campaign. Throughout his presidential pursuit, Trump consistently berated the free press as ‘dishonest’, ‘outrageous’ and instigators of fake news. In January, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon even went as far as to label the mainstream media as “the opposition party” and suggest that it “keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”
Not only is this representation extremely problematic (and just plain f-a-l-s-e) but it has a concerning impact on how the general public has come has come to perceive the media. It is essential that we have discussions about journalistic freedom and integrity. However, when it gets in the way of reporting that’s a problem. Instead of talking about the actual issues at hand we are discussing the caliber and intention of our news agencies.
This is not a phenomenon that is exclusively occurring within the borders of our neighbour to the south. As Canadian media is undeniably shaped by American broadcasters, our news coverage has come to reflect this disorder. In our daily news publication, we work tirelessly to balance Canadian coverage with American and other world happenings.
But it’s a struggle when on any given day, Trump and his cast of characters continue to divert and distract with their display of outrageous oral offences (that was a tough alliteration, give me some credit).
Although it is undeniable that there are issues with mainstream media (more news, less logo, please), we need support them and to encourage outlets to work together to ensure we all have access to the truth. If only we could start with less tweets from the King Twit.