CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta was the center of attention this month when his access to the White House was revoked as a result of his actions during a White House press conference. He had refused to surrender the microphone after asking multiple questions and even spoke over other reporters attempting to ask questions to the president.
Although Acosta was granted access to the White House again, the exchange was controversial due to a larger discussion regarding the president’s treatment of the news media.
Trump’s attitude towards the press has been described as an “assault on journalism,” a “threat from the highest levels of… government,” and even “unbecoming of a democratic leader.” Politico magazine even suggested that Trump represented a “threat of dictatorship.”
These claims and characterizations are inaccurate, to say the least. Trump is the first president in a long time who is not afraid to stand up to a very biased press industry-and that is something that many in this country have wanted for a while.
The reality is that Trump has not done anything substantial to limit the freedom of the press. While he talks a big game (and talk he does) no freedoms or rights of the press have been taken away or reduced.
Some may bring up the circumstance with CNN Contributor Jim Acosta as an example; however, the actions of the White House were hardly against the First Amendment. “I have not determined the First Amendment was violated here,” Judge Timothy Kelly ruled.
Judge Kelly did grant the White House a temporary order to return Acosta’s pass to him, only because there were no formal rules in place that Acosta violated. Evidently, it didn’t occur to anyone on any prior White House staff to make a formal rule prohibiting grandstanding, fighting an intern to keep ahold of the microphone and shouting over other reporters. It was assumed as common sense, until Acosta.
In the meantime, CNN had no shortage of reporters to send in Acosta’s place. The truth is that Trump has not violated the First Amendment. He has not used his power to censor entities like CNN and he has not seized any private information of said journalists.
The latter is not something former President Barack Obama can claim. The New York Times reported that Obama’s Department of Justice seized journalists’ phone records without notice. Not surprisingly, it went unnoticed by many. Obama also fought Fox News tooth and nail during his presidency, attempting to limit their exposure.
Apart from that, President Trump has ample reason to be frustrated with the media. Along with the characterizations mentioned above, the mainstream news media has proven time and time again to be biased against Republicans, especially Trump.
Let me count the ways: in 2016, a CNN commentator leaked debate questions to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Studies done this year in March, May and October show that the Big Three’s (NBC, ABC and CBS) media coverage of Trump has been 90% negative. Led by the Boston Globe, papers all around the country joined together to publish pieces against the president last August.
The media called the concept of a migrant caravan from Central America “a lie” among other related falsehoods leading up to the midterms. The Boston Globe even took it upon itself to call out African-Americans for voting Republican, as if their skin color should determine their vote.
Sometimes it gets desperate: CNN once gave wall-to-wall coverage describing in detail how President Trump “takes two scoops of ice cream… everyone else around the table gets just one.” Other times, it’s outrageous: one opinion piece published by the Washington Post in 2016 was actually titled “Don’t compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. It belittles Hitler.”
Headlines like the ones above should outrage Americans. Many Americans have waited for someone to stand up and defend conservatives. Donald Trump is that someone.
An article by the Gateway earlier this semester noted that various news publications had a “disdain for the rampant mistrust of the media in 2018.” But news publications aren’t automatically entitled to trustworthiness—they must earn it first.