Media Warns: Without Us, Trump Could Become Dictator
Donald Trump pulled a fast one on the mainstream media last Friday, building up a major announcement on Barack Obama’s citizenship that turned into a one-line dismissal surrounded by an amusing publicity tour of his new Washington hotel. Already outraged about the faux-press conference, the major news channels got even angrier later in the day, when Trump supporters cheered their absence from a rally. Trump announced that his travelling press pool was stuck in air traffic and the crowd went wild.
CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield was so shocked by this double-shot that she compared Trump’s war on the media with the dark machinations of villainous dictatorships.
“Do people not realize, or are they forgetting that other critical element of it?” Banfield asked reporter Dylan Byers. “Either you have a media or you have what I witnessed in Saddam’s era – in Libya’s era – where you never got to actually call yourself press or you’d go to jail for it.”
Byers acknowledged Banfield’s concerns and said that the latest Trump kerfuffle came at a time when Americans were more suspicious of the mainstream media than ever. He cited a new Gallup poll that showed that trust in the media had plummeted to his lowest point since 1976, when the pollsters started asking the question.
Banfield and Byers were only one example of the outrage; reporters on most of the major cable news networks lashed out at Trump for Friday’s birther stunt and made similar allusions to the dangers of a vilified and censored press. After more than a year of covering Trump with undisguised bias, the media wants to pretend that it’s Trump’s fault that Americans no longer trust them. That’s much easier than admitting that they’ve been pushing an agenda.
Their warnings about state-run media are well taken. The problem is that the American media has been acting as a propaganda arm for the Democratic Party for decades. In their refusal to cover President Barack Obama with the objectivity that the public requires, they turned themselves into the Western equivalent of Saddam’s Iraqi cheerleaders. The Obama administration never took away their freedom of the press and, to their delight, they never had to. The media, desperate to defend the nation’s first black president, didn’t need to be threatened with jail time. They were more than happy to gag themselves.
Now the media wants to pretend there was a very good reason for their silence on Obama’s faults: He didn’t really have any! They want to pretend they put him under the same microscope as they’re now using on Trump. And they want to pretend that Trump and his merry band of alt-right deplorables are keeping them from upholding the grand standard of journalism that they’ve fought so hard to build.
Unless they make some serious changes over the next couple of years, the major networks and newspapers are going to go up in flames. We can only hope that from the ashes will rise a phoenix of real journalism – one very much unlike the media of Saddam’s Iraq and very much unlike the media of Obama’s America.