Hi, my name is Jenna and I am a member of the dishonest media.
Seriously, I wasn’t aware that, when I declared my journalism major before my freshman year, I was also declaring that I was “failing,” “worthless,” “dishonest,” “sad,” and a “tax scam,” yet those are all words that our future president has called various media outlets across the country.
Whether or not I like Donald Trump as a president or a person is irrelevant. What matters to me – and to many writers like myself – is the obvious disrespect with which he talks about the free press.
Let’s start with the term “fake news.”
During this past election season, wild and outrageous articles about the candidates, their pasts, and who had endorsed them circulated social media websites. The catch? The stories were completely false and contained no reputable sources or fact-checking. That didn’t stop the articles from spreading like wildfire – and people from believing them entirely.
Some of the more popular stories included gems such as reports on Hillary Clinton herself selling weapons to ISIS, the director of the FBI getting paid off in millions by the Clinton Foundation, and the claim that Hillary Clinton and her campaign team were running a child-trafficking ring out of a Washington DC pizza parlor.
Fake news is a real thing and an issue that may or may not have deeply impacted the results of our last election. However, contrary to what Donald Trump seems to think, “fake news” is not a blanket term used for any and all organizations that he does not agree with.
During his first press conference since winning the election in November, Trump used the phrase “fake news” to call out credible media organizations whose questions he didn’t want to answer.
The President Elect and CNN Reporter Jim Acosta got into a heated exchange over the network’s coverage of Trump’s deep ties with Russia.
“Since you’re attacking us can you give us a question? Since you are attacking our news organization can you give us a chance?” Acosta said.
“Not you, your organization is terrible,” Trump responded, telling Acosta to be quiet. “She’s asking a question, don’t be rude.”
Acosta however kept trying to ask his question, until Trump ended the exchange by declaring CNN to be “fake news.”
“No, I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news!” he said.
“Mr. President-elect that’s not appropriate,” Acosta said before allowing the next reporter to ask her question.
Although CNN has a clear liberal bias and endorsed Hillary Clinton in the election, Acosta’s actions were defended by journalists everywhere, including Shepard Smith of Fox News on the right.
“Though we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN’s report, it is our observation that its correspondence followed journalistic standards, and that neither they nor any other journalists should be subjected to belittling or delegitimizing by the President-elect of the United States.”
Here’s what that particular exchange at the press conference should tell you about the way that journalists will be treated during the next four years:
Donald Trump refused to grant a question to a news organization that he doesn’t like. Not only that, he continued to talk over and insult Acosta for pursuing the issue further. Was Trump afraid that he wouldn’t be able to answer Acosta’s question? Did the President-elect not want to look bad at his first press conference? Would he rather take softball questions from networks that he knows support his ideals? The problem is that we as an audience will never know.
If the President-elect continues hand picking who he does and does not want to answer questions from, we will end up with a very limited source of news in the coming months. Every article and every story will have been filtered through the lens that Trump deems worthy and put out into the world as if it is hard truth. Without differing viewpoints, hard questions, and the refusal of journalists to be treated with disrespect by their government, the quality and accuracy of that news is going to decrease.
The American people won’t be able to question their administration because they won’t know that there is anything better out there or any way for it to change.
Some media outlets have a clear liberal or conservative sway. Some differ based on what issues are important to them. While we will never be able to fully eliminate personal beliefs from our media consumption, Donald Trump discrediting and attacking news organizations for reporting things that he doesn’t like doesn’t make that network “dishonest” or “fake” but rather makes him extremely biased and unreliable as a source of news.
To my fellow journalists, freelancers, and writers: Let’s refuse to be ignored. Let’s demand answers. Let’s not tolerate our government’s dismissal of the free press.
Besides, I’m going to have a lot of trouble convincing my University that they have to switch “Journalism” on my diploma to “A failing, dishonest, worthless tax scam.”