President Donald Trump’s continuing denigration of the news media has become tiresome. In fact, on Friday, it went far beyond tiresome into the land of truly depressing.
Meeting with Russia’s despotic President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, the president and Putin shared their dislike of the media, with Trump saying of the reporters in the audience, “Get rid of them, fake news. You don’t have the problem in Russia. We have it; you don’t have it.”
If that wasn’t bad enough, the president chose to do it on the one-year anniversary of the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, during which five newspaper staffers were murdered and two others injured was unbelievably cruel and thoughtless.
Of course, that never has stopped the president before. He has only a glancing understanding of truth and he considers any stories critical of him or his administration to be “fake news.” In fact, he frequently refers to reporters as the “enemy of the people.”
That President Trump would do this with Putin, an avowed enemy of the United States — a true enemy of the people of both Russia and the United States — is particularly appalling. But it isn’t surprising: Trump apparently prefers the company of tyrants such as Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to leaders of countries that used to be our allies, who he has alienated en masse. No telling how long it will take to restore those relationships whenever Trump finally leaves office.
We sort of understand Trump’s contempt for the media. Some reporters have made a point of hashing and rehashing anything negative about the president. But there just is so much to report, and it is so hard to resist.
Yes, the media also should report the positive things that the president has accomplished such as the economy and, and, well surely there are other things. It is no wonder the media — and the American public — have a hard time keeping up with the president’s constant changes of mind. We are going to bomb Iran ... no, wait, we aren’t going to bomb Iran. We are going to deport thousands of immigrants in this country illegally, except that we aren’t going to do that — at least not now. The list goes on and on. How are other countries going to believe the president’s threats when he invariably changes his mind at the last minute?
And, Mr. President, you are wrong to tell Putin, “You don’t have the problem in Russia [of “fake” news]. We have it; you don’t have it.” Surely President Trump must have been unaware that, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 38 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1992, including 26 in the years Putin has been president. During that time period, the committee reports, 1,344 journalists have been killed around the world — that we know of.
Mr. President, we understand you don’t like negative stories about you, your family or members of your administration. No one likes to be criticized publicly, but criticism comes with the job of being president. Just because a story isn’t friendly doesn’t mean that it is fake news. By repeatedly saying so undermines the good work of so many news media outlets and reporters — not all, but most.
A valid and unfettered news media is critical to America. As Walter Cronkite said, “Journalism is what we need to make
All this said, many in the media must get over their fetish with anything and everything negative about the president. The true “truth” most likely falls somewhere between CNN and Fox News.
People don’t have to believe everything they hear and read. Skepticism is healthy. Questions are good. But please understand that news is news, whether the president likes it or not.
And, Mr. President, often the best response to people and things you don’t like is no
response at all. It makes you the bigger man.