A Journalism Student’s Response To Trump’s Attack On Media

On Saturday afternoon, February 17th, the President of the United States attacked the First Amendment.

To be specific, President Donald Trump tweeted, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!” There’s no denying this statement. This was not a statement printed in publications that Trump deems “fake news”, it came straight from our President’s Twitter account. This statement, made in less than 140 characters on a social media platform, discredits journalism as a whole, an institution that is the basis of democracy.

Are you scared yet? You should be.

But what does Trump’s statement really mean? Essentially, Trump confirms that there are only two reliable sources for facts — Fox News and Trump himself. If the news doesn’t positively depict Trump as America’s savior or if it calls him out on his fact errors and blatant lies, it’s fake news. And it’s not just articles either – from polls to videos, if he does not agree with the information, it is simply wrong.

Included in this “fake news” are video tapes and audio in which you can see and hear Trump’s clear statements that he is now trying to bury. What Trump wants us to do, ultimately, is live in his dream land with him. A land where his word is law and the ultimate truth, a world where he, and only he, can inform and dominate American conversations. This is incredibly dangerous.

In response to his Feb 17 statement, Twitter flooded with thousands of furious tweets defending our First Amendment rights and the journalists throughout history who have sacrificed their lives while in pursuit of the truth — a truth that Trump is so fearful of. The hashtag “#NotTheEnemy” began trending on Twitter, with multiple posts dedicated to the greatest American journalists.

U.S. Representative Jim McGovern tweeted “This is Woodward and Bernstein. Nixon called them the enemy. They proved that no president is above the law. #NotTheEnemy” in reference to the investigative reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal.


Others tweeted about reporters who tragically lost their lives while venturing into dangerous war zones in order to give American’s the latest news. Some of these names included those like freelance journalist James Foley, who was beheaded in 2014 by ISIS while reporting in Syria. Another was Michael Kelly, one of the first journalists to die while covering the Iraqi War in 2003.

 

Their names and faces covered my Twitter feed, reminding me of the great sacrifice journalists take to deliver the truth. People that risked their lives to expose corruption and evil. These reporters, these heroes, are amongst those who Trump has deemed the enemy.

How do we respond to this? Specifically, how should aspiring journalists like myself respond to this target placed on our back? We have been named the enemy of the American people. Us, the people who have dedicated our lives to unveiling the truth and informing American citizens on what’s going on across the world. We are the enemies. With this blasphemous statement, it is now more important than ever that we stand by the guidelines of ethical journalism, that we investigate and fact check simultaneously to safeguard ourselves against criticism. But most importantly, we must not allow Trump’s statements to silence us. That’s what he wants; he wants to incite fear in us and doubt in the American people. But we will not be silenced.

And to the American people, let me reassure you. We are not your enemy.

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