The Value of Free Press

By Sebastian Godinez

     A week or two ago, President Trump called “fake news”, his code word for much of the press, the “enemy of the people.” Look, I’m not the biggest fan of the political media at times (See their coverage of Benghazi, Obamacare, MH370), but as any political scientist will tell you, one of the telltale signs of a democracy is a free, uninhibited press (within reason, of course).

      Indeed, George W. Bush, the man the Left loves to hate, said the press is indispensable to democracy earlier this week. Trump’s narcissism has been well established, but labeling things that paint you in a negative light, if they are true, are not “fake news”. It’s not libel either, Mr. President. Polls showing your approval rating at around 44% right now are not fake. And the reports that came out on Wednesday, March 1, detailing at least two meetings by the Attorney General with the Russian Ambassador during the campaign, is likely perjury in the eyes of Congress.

     No amount of deriding it as “fake news” will make it false. And it’s something the public needs to know. The media helps us to hold our officials in account. Mr. President, you declare that you’re the only source of news we need, but that’s quite worrisome. It sounds like something to come out of the mouth of an authoritarian strongman, say, like your pal Vladimir Putin.

    On a separate note, I’m speaking out as a first right absolutist, aside from the traditional restrictions hate, fighting words and time, place and manner restrictions. I believe in the right of a free press too. When you deride the press as publishing “fake news,” you are committing slander. The press makes mistakes and we should rightly call them out for errors, but they are by and large a non-biased group of professionals trying to do their job and earn a decent living.

     To be clear, I am not speaking out in a partisan manner. I’d just as easily call out Hillary Clinton and former President Obama if they tried to label the press as “fake news” and/or “the enemy of the people”. It is my hope that you will reconsider how you treat the media. You can dislike the press, even have a hostile relationship with them as did Nixon and Truman, but let them do their jobs. You’ll be better off for it, Mr. President. The press is a bedrock establishment in the United States. Please give them the respect that they so rightfully deserve.

Sebastian is a junior Political Science major.

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