Is the American Press the ‘Enemy of the People’?
Video footage of verbal sparring between Jim Acosta of CNN and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Aug. 2 went viral on the internet. In the clip, Acosta demands Sanders say that the press is not the enemy of the people. Sanders, in response, recounts the attacks and harassment she has received from the mainstream media. Deflated, Acosta walked out of the briefing.
Let me answer your question to Sanders, Jim. An honest press is not the enemy of the people. Thomas Jefferson said, “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” It was true then and is true today.
Here’s the problem: The American mainstream media is no longer free nor honest. It has (mostly voluntarily) reduced itself to being a tool of mass deception and a partisan smear machine.
Trump may be the most maligned man by the press in the history of the United States. He clinched the Republican presidential nomination on July 19, 2016, and less than two weeks later, the New York Post published a story damaging to Trump and his wife.
On July 30, 2016, the New York Post published an account alleging that Melania Trump worked in the United States in 1995. If true, she would have been in violation of immigration laws. Politico published an article on gaps in Melania Trump’s account of her immigration history that was based in part on the Post story. On Sept. 16, 2016, Politico published a correction, saying a corrected timeline was consistent with her account.
According to the Post, a photographer’s faulty memory was to blame for the false reporting. But the explanation doesn’t hold water: Human error is one thing, running a story with a single source and no verification is quite another.
Other fake news can’t be so easily explained away by human error or editing negligence.
On Inauguration Day, a Time reporter claimed that a bust of Martin Luther King had been removed from the Oval Office. The claim was false—the bust was obscured from the reporter’s view by an official. The reporter was in the room, and the presence or the absence of the bust could have been ascertained in seconds by moving closer or finding a better vantage point.
Yet, for unknown reasons, he didn’t. The mistake was caught the same day. It took four days for Time to issue a statement acknowledging the incident, but the magazine denied that it had deliberately reported a false story.
CNN has been a leader in terms of the volume and intensity of one-sided coverage. In a 2017 Harvard study, 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of Trump was found to be negative, more than any other news outlet except for NBC.
In its peddling of Stormy Daniels’s alleged affair with Trump, CNN hosted her attorney, Michael Avenatti, 65 times in two months, while MSNBC had Avenatti on 43 times in the same time period. CNN is unquestionably the leader in Trump-bashing among the media.
Some of CNN’s fake news is just incorrect. On June 22, 2017, CNN reported, citing “a congressional source,’’ that the Senate was investigating a Russian investment fund that allegedly had ties to Trump administration officials. A day later, CNN retracted the story and scrubbed the webpage. Three reporters resigned as a result.
Other stories have sought to portray Trump as a boorish brute. The most prominent example may be the koi feeding incident during a trip to Japan, in which he was made to look bad through deceptive video editing. In CNN’s video, Trump is seen dumping a whole box of fish food into the koi pond. In fact, he was just following the lead of his host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Why has CNN done this? For ratings? For profit? It has gained neither. Its coverage on Trump has proven to be a ratings killer. In the first quarter of 2018, CNN didn’t crack the top 10 in all cable channels in primetime, coming in behind the History Channel. The situation has only gotten worse. In June, CNN’s rank slid to 13th among primetime cable channels, losing to HGTV and the Food Network. The network’s behavior can’t be explained by anything rational. It appears to be on a kamikaze mission to tarnish Trump.
The mainstream media hasn’t gone easy on Trump supporters, either. They appear to believe that insulting half of the nation’s electorate is one way to help Democrats get back in power. Trump voters are called every name in the book by the mainstream media, day in and day out: Nazis, racists, sexists, xenophobes—you name it.
Just a few days ago, a Politico reporter referred to the attendees of a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida, as toothless “garbage people.”
Since an anti-Trump supporter of Bernie Sanders shot up a baseball practice of Republican members of Congress in 2017, leaving Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) seriously wounded, Trump administration officials and supporters have increasingly faced violence from the left. There have been hundreds of documented cases. If you believe that the attacks have nothing to do with the denigration and dehumanization of Trump supporters by the mainstream media, I have a bridge to sell you.
Unfortunately, the American mainstream media seems to be unable to stop its prejudiced treatment of Trump and his supporters. While they call for civility in politics, their deeds speak louder than their words: They are busy widening the chasm and turning one group against another.
Last week, The New York Times hired an unabashed and rabid racist to serve on its editorial board. The new hire disparaged the white race in every way possible, including calling for their collective destruction. Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media quickly came to the racist’s defense.
The American mainstream media were once watchdogs. Now, they are hunting dogs out to get their political opponents. When the press is the source of misinformation, it becomes the enemy of the people; when the press is the source of division, it becomes the enemy of the people; when the press is the source of hate and advocates harassment and violence, it becomes the enemy of the people.
Trump didn’t undermine the mainstream media; the media destroyed its own credibility trying to undermine him.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.