Despite threats and non-sense from president, journalists remain committed to community
A follow-up seems to be in order on my Hot Pursuit column from last week regarding the mass shooting at a newspaper in Maryland.
I tried to steer away from making my observations tied to our president, but a reader and another area newspaper publisher pulled me right into it all with some comments of their own.
“The foundation for such idiocy goes right to the White House,” the reader chimed in. “With the narcissistic, egotistical, self-centered, irresponsible, disrespectful, name-calling and negative president in office.”
Soon after he took office less than two years ago, President Trump quickly called reporters fake news. It seems, the reader reasons, that the trouble with the news media stems back to the president. “When you have a president of a country using that kind of language, it’s not surprising that disrespect becomes the national norm,” the reader points out.
I must admit I am tired of the president always referring to the news media as “fake news.” I will argue any day it is social media that our president has taken such a liking to which is creating the fake news. More often than not the mainstream media has nothing to do with the fake news that gets generated out there.
What troubles me is that when the president doesn’t like something reported which sheds him in a negative light, it’s right away labeled “fake news” by him. Now, more than ever before, we need a free press that holds the president accountable for what he’s doing, and perhaps not doing.
I know the reader that contacted me has no connection to David Phillips, a colleague of mine who runs the Spring Valley newspaper among others, but the two seem to be on the same page with all of this. Phillips hit it on the head last week in a similar column he wrote about the newspaper ambush.
“A more worrisome assault is the pummeling of the integrity of the press, something journalists encounter today even in casual settings in small town Minnesota,” Phillips wrote. “The disparaging comments aren’t personal attacks against local journalists, but are putdowns of the entire profession, with people joking about ‘fake news’ that is supposedly so prevalent or musing about the many ways the media can blame the president for anything bad that happens.
Phillips got to the point even more by writing, “This view is coming from the top—the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who feels it necessary to constantly undermine the press. Defenders say it is just Trump being Trump, but words do have consequences, as those of us in this profession understand even when the reminder doesn’t come from bullets aimed at our colleagues.”
Phillips also pointed out a CBS “60 Minutes” interview during Trump’s 2016 campaign when he was asked why he regularly attacks the media. Correspondent Lesley Stahl said he told her, “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”
I feel that’s a horrible admission from someone attempting to build the country and not tear it apart.
Journalists certainly don’t get everything right all the time. But, unlike the president wants you to believe, we do not strive to spew out “fake news.” It’s not even an option for journalists striving to uphold the First Amendment with honesty and integrity.
I just ask that you don’t buy into what the president consistently throws out there about the press.
I hope there is no connection between the crazed man who gunned down five people at the Annapolis newspaper and our president who likes to stir up things at the expense of the media, but it makes one seriously wonder.
While we remain saddened by the developments with yet another mass shooting in this country, we will continue to go in hot pursuit of sharing the truth with our readers.