Our democracy’s most pressing threat

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President Donald Trump speaks during the 2018 Ohio Republican Party State Dinner, Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

President Trump’s White House tenure has been a fascinating case study thus far. Regardless of our sentiments surrounding him and his administration, Trump has demonstrated an uncanny ability to garner attention upon himself and his often contentious subject matter.

Naturally the press shines a brighter spotlight upon Trump as America’s incumbent president, and supposedly “no publicity is bad publicity.” However, Trump’s incessant attacks against his greatest platform threaten the foundation upon which our nation resides: our democracy.

While other U.S. presidents and world leaders have set a precedent for Trump’s anti-media rhetoric, such hostility remains unjustified.

Contrary to supposed adults’ screeching of ‘fake news’ at the top of their lungs, the press reports news objectively without malintent or neglect. Occasionally the press may take some liberties in order to emphasize key points, but its members aren’t submitting a creative writing assignment, nor are they conspiracy theorists or tabloid reporters (normally I might provide an example here, but I wouldn’t dare to cast notoriety upon any of them and thus inadvertently increase their following).

This situation is akin to when the unpopular kid at recess sees from a distance a group of kids pointing fingers at them, and consequently said kid tells their teacher that other kids are gossiping about them. The kid’s complaints are little more than a short-term solution and the accusations may be unfounded or taken out of context, which will only worsen the kid’s standing among their peers.

Although acknowledging the press’s genuine reporting errors is perfectly acceptable and even laudable, lashing out like a petulant child in the face of constructive criticism should be beneath someone of Trump’s age and position.

Besides being misguided, attacks on the press present several dangers to a wide spectrum of individuals. Freedom of the press should be a nonpartisan issue, for our constitution outlines it explicitly within the First Amendment. Despite the contentiousness engulfing the constitutionality of other issues, like the right to bear arms according to the Second Amendment and capital punishment in the Eighth Amendment’s context, said amendments’ vague language makes these issues more open to interpretation.

Unfortunately, certain people, especially those with great power, may benefit from muddled waters of truth and weaponize such confusion in order to justify vindictiveness, dehumanization, and other abhorrent misdeeds.

Referencing the press as “the enemy of the people” could enable a protest-induced increase in these publications’ respective followings; but an anti-media stance, particularly from someone in such an influential position, remains indisputable for some.

Truth denial can even pose dangers to those who engage in it, for the less-informed become prone to self-sabotage and the press’s audience (i.e. average citizens) could be next in line to lose their free expression.

We can’t childishly disregard hard truths, lest we willingly close our eyes to clear and present danger around us. Like any strong ally, the press won’t always do things that please us, yet its members will keep our best interests in mind.

As a student writer, I’m not even in the same stratosphere as the world’s best news reporters; yet Trump’s attacks on the press still affect me. Along with the average American who conducts day-to-day social interactions uninhibited, I’m extremely fortunate to have a platform like “The Daily Campus” to speak freely, and I’d feel more apprehensive if that privilege were taken away from me. In fact, we often coin phrases such as our “right to free speech” or “right to free press,” but their non-universal nature redefines them as privileges that we must protect at all costs.

Ultimately, Trump and other influential figures shouldn’t destroy our democracy’s infrastructure and those who desire positive publicity should provide the press with positive discussion points. In the event that such adverse behavior continues, we can combat it.

Because the press has a duty to report on our government, requests that its members ignore seemingly redundant or trivial occurrences (e.g. late-night tweets, campaign rallies) are counterintuitive; but if we’re sick of reliving these events, then we should take action to prevent such occurrences from transpiring again.

To maintain our honesty and decency, along with that of our news reporters and close ones, we must defend statements from credible sources, fact-check every uncertain statement and debunk every falsehood. Thus we remain well-informed and have equal voices that contribute to our nation’s progression.


Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email michael.katz@uconn.edu.  

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