In my commentary yesterday covering Donald Trump’s first press conference since last summer, I briefly mentioned his headline-grabbing bullying of a CNN reporter. You may recall that Trump accused CNN of being a “fake news” organization after lumping together a report by CNN about an intelligence briefing about compromising information collected by the Russians with an unsubstantiated supermarket-tabloid-styled report by Buzzfeed about Trump and prostitutes. After making his accusation, the crowd, consisting of a disturbing number of non-media aides on the Trump payroll, applauded.
You could say it was a fake crowd.
While bias in the media has been an American reality for decades—that’s what you get when you have progressives educating journalists—Trump’s long track record of blaming the media whenever they write an unfavorable story about him is not only getting old; it’s getting dangerously close to becoming a Constitutional crisis.
Freedom of the press is protected under the Constitution, and the Founding Fathers saw it as a vital tool designed to keep government in check. It’s not the role of the president, or anyone in government, to decide real news from fake. And it’s not media’s job to be friendly with those in government. When this adversarial relationship designed by the founders disappears, you end up with the kind of state-run propaganda journalism that existed in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
Hey, if Trump can make Nazi references when tearing down US Intelligence agencies, I can make them about state-run media.
On the subject of state-run media, Trump essentially built his own Pravda during the campaign with the help of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, now his chief of staff, and FOX News’s very own Sean Hannity, who expressed his support of denying press credentials to unfavorable media. He also created a media black list, and promoted the idea of expanding libel laws in order to allow government to sue the media when they write “negative and horrible things.”
Interestingly, he also promised during his campaign to be more open and available to the media once he became president. So much for that campaign promise.
Thomas Jefferson said of the press, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Besides being unpresidential, Donald Trump’s efforts to limit the media could bring us to the day where Jefferson’s words are proven true.
David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative, your source for opinion that’s politically incorrect and always “right.” His articles can also be found on RedState.com.
His daily radio commentary is nationally syndicated with Salem Radio Network and can be heard on stations across America.