The Media Is Not the Enemy

[Note: To get this blog site up and running, I am reposting a few of my Facebook posts from recent months. This is one of them. It was first posted to Facebook on the date listed, though these first few posts to Neighborfy are being uploaded in June 2017. I’ve made minor edits to some of the Neighborfy versions.  Because these posts were originally posted to Facebook, unfortunately the original comments from readers are not copied here.]

The media is not the enemy. We need them. Diversity of opinion, including criticism (especially well-researched, well-reasoned criticism) is good for our democracy.

Before the griping begins, let me be clear: 1) I’m complaining about the President’s choice of words. As the article I’ve shared below reminds us, the words chosen by Mr. Trump have a long history. It’s hard to imagine he doesn’t know that. Therefore, by using those particular words, he probably intends to call to mind those prior uses of the words by folks like Chairman Mao. Shame on him. 2). Regardless of his word choice, it is simply not acceptable for the president to continue with his efforts to suppress or bully the press. Yes, some press is more responsible than other press. And it’s fine for him to express his disagreement with particular articles or reporters. But he’s confusing press coverage that’s critical of him with untrustworthiness and “fake news.” Not the same thing.

So I’m expressing criticism, but I’m not attempting to say the sky is falling.  Many of my right-leaning friends have adopted the fashion of dismissing criticism from the left by calling us “snowflakes” and arguing that we are over-reacting to everything.  (That’s rich, by the way, because my right-leaning friends have certainly had their moments of over-reacting from time to time.)  No, by sharing this article, I’m not attempting to call the president some kind of new Hitler (even though Hitler used the same words, just like Lenin, Stalin, and Chairman Mao). It isn’t necessary to say that Mr. Trump’s comments are the “worst thing ever” to make the point that they are irresponsible words and bad things for the President to say. His words, by contrast to my criticism, ARE actually extreme, unwarranted, potentially dangerous exaggeration. Calling the media the “enemy of the American People” is, well, probably the scariest thing I’ve heard a President say in my entire lifetime. No hyperbole in that assessment. The President unfortunately doesn’t appreciate the valuable function performed by the media in our democracy.

So don’t respond by accusing me of hyperbole. I’m not being hyperbolic, just saying, with sober sadness, that this is a bad thing. A very bad thing. The press is not, in fact, an enemy. It is a critical part of a vibrant America in any age. We, the public, need to say LOUDLY that this kind of rhetoric is unacceptable. Judging by the soaring numbers of new subscriptions to the newspapers Mr. Trump dislikes, I think a lot of people agree.

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