President Trump has made no secret about his dislike for the news media, and it is a sentiment shared by many Americans.
Unfortunately, too many people mistake Trump’s flare for histrionics as reality, and some of those folks act out against news reporters and photographers.
So far this year, 30 journalists worldwide have been killed while on the job. Last year nearly 50 journalists lost their lives in one form of violence or another, usually in war zones. More than 1,250 journalists have been killed on the job since 1992.
Still, even with that troubling death toll of civilians on the job, President Trump continues to demonize the news media, calling it “disgusting (that) the press is able to write whatever it wants …”
Trump is fond of calling any story that criticizes him or that he simply doesn’t like “fake news,” when in fact it generally is just news, the stuff newspapers and TV do on a regular basis, and have been doing for generations to keep Americans informed about what’s going on in our world.
The president has suggested, numerous times, that it might be best if news media outlets were silenced. Apparently he has as little regard for the 1st Amendment as he does for much of the U.S. Constitution.
Trump’s latest outburst involves his idea that NBC’s operating license should be revoked, primarily because that network’s news programs report unflattering news about the president’s day-to-day activities.
This dangerous attack on the Constitution’s guarantees of free speech have put even some Republican lawmakers on edge. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has publicly challenged Trump’s anti-media rants, suggesting the president has recanted the oath he took to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution — including the 1st Amendment to that revered document.
Another of the president’s favorite targets is cable channel CNN, which Trump has characterized as a spreader of “very fake news.” Thankfully, CNN’s decision makers have chosen to fight back with an ad campaign entitled “Facts First.”
Actually, that is the motto of every credible news outlet in the United States. It’s what our reporters and editors rely on every day in processing news reports.
CNN’s campaign will focus on the image of an apple while a narrator makes it very clear that what viewers are seeing is an apple, even if someone — even a person of some importance — tells you it’s a banana.
And there’s a lot of that going around these days. The president and his top advisors will tell you what you’re seeing is a banana when, in fact, any fool can see it’s not. But if you insist on reporting that the image is not a banana, the Trump administration strategy is to call that “fake news.”
A CNN statement on this issue said, "Once facts are established, opinions can be formed. … And while opinions matter, they don't change the facts. …”
And even that crystal-clear conclusion has been challenged in Trump’s world. White House advisor Kellyanne Conway has explained some of the president’s most inexplicable assertions as “alternative facts.”
Very clever, but in the news world there are no alternative facts. Something is either true or it’s not. Just about every situation has a certain degree of nuance, but facts are what they are and there are no alternatives.
We believe many reading this editorial may disagree, and we’d love nothing more than to publish your letters on this issue.