Streep’s speech refuels discussion: Emphasis on protecting press

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Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

The Golden Globes, like many televised events meant to celebrate the achievements of celebrities in film and television, are typically bright, flashy and superficial. Stars are asked what they’re wearing and either promote their work or thank the people who helped in creating their work. Meryl Streep broke the cycle and used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to look beyond the distracting glamour of Hollywood. For a few minutes, whether they liked it or not, she made many Americans stop and think about politics.

“There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good, it was — there’s nothing good about it,” Streep said. “But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege and power and the capacity to fight back.”

Streep went after Trump, but she never said his name. Instead she pointed out one of the many qualities of President Elect Donald Trump that have stirred both fear and respect in American voters.

Trump’s relationship with the press has been riddled with controversy, and his verbal attack launched at a disabled reporter during his campaign was not the only, and definitely not the last, strife with a member of the press.

In a press conference last week Trump went as far as accusing CNN of creating false news.

“Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news,” Trump said during an exchange with a CNN reporter.

Streep’s speech, like many things in this country, was met with both applause and anger. Her call to protect journalists was admirable, but it wasn’t what made the speech great. Her speech was great because it refueled the political discussion that seems to have died down since the election.

There are many reasons Americans become oblivious to politics, it may be hard to keep track of everything that goes on in Washington, or there are more personal and pressing things to worry about, and there’s the unfortunate group that simply doesn’t care enough to stay informed.

The greatest threat facing the United States is not Trump or the ‘liberal’ media, the greatest threat is an uninformed public. The political polarization in this country is increasing and the first step to closing the gap is communication. Sure, that might include the silent roaring of the masses as they lay out their beliefs on social media, but it also includes a reliable news source.

As an increasing number of Americans get their news from social media rather than traditional journalists, the open line of communication is clogged with fake
news sites. Social media sites like Facebook are taking steps meant to stem the flow of fake news.

“We know that our community values sharing and discussing ideas and news, and as a part of our service, we care a great deal about making sure that a healthy news ecosystem and journalism can thrive,” the company said in a blog post.

Facebook’s steps to insure the integrity of journalism is commendable, especially considering the site was never intended to be a news source. However, the social media giant has a long way to go.

Whether fully supportive of Trump or terrified for the future of the country, the American people will have to make the best of the next four years. Looking away and living in oblivion may seem appealing, but the only way to keep the powerful accountable for their actions is to know what their actions are.

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