Last Friday (Aug 10th), the Boston Globe called on the American news media to produce editorials tomorrow (Thurs, Aug 16th) denouncing what they describe as President Trump’s “dirty war against the free press.” The Globe claims they have already recruited dozens of major metropolitan dailies, as well as several smaller weeklies. Locally, I’m sure our Tampa Bay Times is chomping on the bit for this one.
I am confident tomorrow’s papers will be loaded with aspersions against the president, who will be cast as a Nazi dictator trying to suppress the news media. There will be a lot of whining, cat-calling, and some rather unfortunate comments made. In the end, the press will have finally come out of the closet and shown its true colors as to their feelings about the president. It won’t be pretty. Now, instead of random attacks against the president, it will be an orchestrated effort, which will finally be put on display for all to see.
In the end, this temper tantrum is going to hurt the press as they will lose further credibility with their readers and cause them to lose more subscribers. By forcing a confrontation, the press is ultimately asking the public to choose sides, thereby further dividing the country, for in the end, people will be asked to determine if the press is “the enemy of the people” or if it is Mr. Trump, and I’m afraid they are not going to like the answer they receive.
Here are some realities:
First, the news media has already lost the trust of the people, which has been eroding over the last few years. People realize news is important in order to be good and responsible citizens. A new Knight-Gallup survey shows Americans believe the media has an important role to play, but they do not see that role being fulfilled.
Second, the public understands money drives the press, thereby making it sensational. As such, it appears the press is shooting itself in the foot as newspapers continue to close, subscriptions plummet, and TV viewership declines. As a recent Pew poll reports:
* The average audience for the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS and NBC decreased by 7% in 2017, down to 5.2 million, compared with 5.6 million in 2016.
* The average audience for morning news programs from ABC, CBS and NBC also declined over the past year, down 10% in 2017, to about 3 million.
* The average audience for the four news magazine shows aired by the networks – ABC’s 20/20, CBS’s 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, and NBC’s Dateline – declined in 2017, down 12% from 2016.
All of this means, they are losing the trust of the American people.
As an aside, Pew also reports the news media is more trusted in Europe than it is in the United States.
More importantly, Pew reports 78% of Americans say the news media should never favor one political party over another. Yet, this is precisely what has become of the American news media.
And third, look for a major push back from the Trump administration following the August 16th editorials. I’m sure the president will Tweet his displeasure but look for some other major changes, such as:
* The White House could distribute news through written press announcements only. After all, if the press is not honest with the White House and often misinterprets the news secretary, why bend over backwards for the press?
* The White House could insist on granting press credentials only to those who belong to The Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). This pledge is a sort of hippocratic oath as applied to journalists. The CFAPA pledge means they will conform to ethical standards.
* We must remember the press has no “rights” to be in the White House, that it is a a privilege instead. This could result in some changes being made, such as holding a press briefing outdoors, not in the comfort of an indoor facility.
There might also be some possible libel lawsuits or other drastic measures. One thing is for sure, if they want to fight him, Mr. Trump will not let the challenge go unchecked.
Bottom-line, the news media is playing with fire and will likely earn a black-eye as a result of their editorials on Thursday. By announcing their intentions publicly, they only confirm what a lot of people already know, that the press is out to get President Trump at all costs. Their timing couldn’t be any more obvious, just before the midterm elections. What they do not realize though with this president, he is not afraid to do battle with them.
So, is there a war on the news media? Yes, definitely, just as there is a war against President Trump. While other presidents have taken the abuse, Mr. Trump has elected to fight back, and the press doesn’t like it one bit.
Anybody who believes the press is fair and impartial is taking it in the arm. Journalistic integrity is a myth. The rhetoric is already so vicious by the liberal press that drastic measures are likely in the offing. Since the press is not honest with the White House and often misinterprets the news secretary, why bend over backwards for someone whose mission is to destroy the president?
The one sad thing about all of this is that honest and professional journalists will be hurt in the process.
It will be interesting to see how the press fires upon Fort Sumter tomorrow. Expect cannonade in return, certainly not a flag of truce.
Keep the Faith!
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Mr. Bryce is a freelance writer residing in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.