On Feb. 24, The New York Times reported that it, along with a few other news reporting organizations, had been banned from a press briefing by the White House. This to the cheers and adulation of Trump supporters and the dismay of the founders who are unquestionably turning in their graves. This unprecedented and somewhat unilateral move begs the query: If truth fears no questions, what is the Trump administration afraid of?
Presumably, the continual regurgitation of the mantra of “fake news” will be used to justify picking and choosing who can have the privilege of reporting on the actions and policies of the government. But make no mistake of it: It is a lame excuse. It’s an attempt to redirect the conversation from anything resembling accountability, instead cultivating an atmosphere of unmitigated compliance and praise for the administration’s behavior, whatever it may be.
There is nothing quite so dangerous to our democracy then the absence of the press. Even the maligned and somewhat irresponsible versions of it that populate the actual, factual news with its tabloid renderings are better for a free society then the autocratic methodology of a government-regulated press.
But I digress.
Folks, fake news is not a new concept bequeathed recently upon us by the pseudo-astute observations of a man who appears to have the reading and comprehension abilities of a third grader; a third grader would well be expected to read, write, and enunciate at such a level, but the President of the United States ought better to be at least able to read and comprehend the bills he purports to authorize.
Fake news is what we used to get predominantly from the tabloid magazines at the grocery store or the sensationalist unearthings of Jimmy Hoffa by the likes of Geraldo Rivera. It was aimed at a specific market: the illiterate and uniformed. Because, like Max Ehrmann states in “Desiderata,” “listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”
But let us dismiss out of hand this notion that somehow the existence of sensationalism negates the absolute definitive need for the presence of a free and unfettered public in the form of mere citizen inquiry and demonstration to the freelance or affiliated press correspondent.
Donald Trump and supporters of his administration responding to questions about policies and decisions with inflammatory comments asserting fake news are tantamount to a kindergartner responding to being told they are late returning from recess with, “I know you are, but what am I?”
It is being posited as a filter for the better interest of the people when in point of fact it is a see-through attempt to simply control the narrative about just exactly what is being done under color of law in the name of an agenda that is not only above being questioned but apparently even above being known about by anyone to a large degree.
But again, I digress.
What I find more alarming is that the press is now on the defensive and responding with “#wearenottheenemy” to Trump’s tweet calling them the enemy of the people.
This is a weak and indefensible position for the press to take, and I for one am calling for them to knock it off, now. This is the lay of the land. There is quite possibly a fascist direction being taken by our very own government, and it is not the first time in history that it has happened. Let it be a time that the people would not be silenced, even under threat, as opposed to a time when a press who had a somewhat heyday for several decades or more caved under the pressure.
Instead of responding with a hashtag pleading that we are not the enemy, let’s respond to every attempt to sidestep the process with the simple phrase, “Truth fears no questions.”
And here’s one other thing for Washington County residents in particular to ponder: How long do you wager before local elected and appointed officials laud the phrase “fake news”?
See you out there.