A new war is raging in U.S. politics. On one side is a newly elected president and his fiery press secretary, and on the other side are news outlets. This war is not being fought with bullets and grenades but with harsh words and public stunts. The most difficult thing about this war is that it is far from over.
If you have watched President Donald Trump from the beginning, you know his relationship with the media has never been great. Early in his campaign he was criticized by media outlets for mocking a journalist with a mental handicap, and that was just the start. Every day a news network published his outrageous tweets and broadcasters found fault with what they consider inappropriate usage of social media. Meanwhile, Trump denounced the credibility and legitimacy of news outlets in speeches to large crowds of his supporters.
After Trump was elected, CNN broadcasted his inauguration, showing the smaller number of spectators in comparison to President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008. The following day, Trump’s new press secretary Sean Spicer made the false, unsupported claim to reporters that Trump’s inauguration had the largest turnout in history.
Since Trump took office, many media outlets have continued to question his cabinet nominations, executive orders and overall handling of the role of president. Some news sources, such as Breitbart News Network and Fox News seem to report on Trump’s actions with little more leniency.
Parts of Trump’s attack on news media have included tactics such as ignoring questions from certain networks in press conferences and referring to major news networks, such as CNN, as a fake news. Trump has also claimed that the media should have to release the identities of confidential sources, an issue that has been solved by the Supreme Court and is fundamental to the success of investigative reporting.
This has created major issues for news media, as people seem to be less trusting of their credibility. Outlets that once reigned as the most accurate reporting publications, such as “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post,” are now having their legitimacy and credibility questioned.
While awareness of political bias appears to be growing, it is not a new issue. Reporters are ethically responsible for bringing the news to the public without bias, though sometimes that can be a difficult task.
One of the many reasons it can be hard to remain politically neutral is if the owners of major news publications reveal their political affiliation. This can cause a news outlet to lean toward liberal or conservative views. Throughout this election, the political identity of news networks became more apparent as some reported more favorably toward Hillary Clinton while others favored Donald Trump.
Trump’s latest actions, however, may be going too far. Trump has recently barred certain publications from attending press conferences, only inviting networks that report more favorably toward him. This has never been done by a president. Although these news networks are known to be more critical of conservative presidents, they have been barred from executive press conferences.
The war between news media and Trump is just beginning, but over the next four years he will have to accept that if he wants to accomplish his goals, including a crackdown on immigration, the wall on the Mexican border and implementing closer relations with Russia. News media will be watching him like a hawk. The Supreme Court said of the 1971 case of the Pentagon Papers, after all, the media’s job was to be a watchdog on government, and without this role our democracy will not function properly.