By Annie Hayes
Reflecting back on the 2016 election cycle, one recurring message that came from the Trump campaign was his critique of the media coverage of his campaign, arguing that they were biased, and were actively trying to help elect Hillary Clinton. Since his electoral victory Trump has called certain media outlets including CNN and Buzzfeed “fake news”, for reporting about possible conflicts of interests between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And on his first official day as President, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer did not take any questions from the media, but instead attacked the media for their negative coverage of the inauguration and how the attendance number was significantly less compared to Obama’s first inauguration ceremony. Spicer claimed that the attendance was the largest inauguration crowd in history. That is simply not the truth.
There is no doubt the media is doing some soul searching following the 2016 election, over their coverage of the campaign through the primary and general elections, and the predictions they were making which had Clinton winning in a landslide. Everyone including the media were at a loss for words on election night, because they were completely wrong. Trump ran on attacking the media, and that rhetoric appealed to a lot of Americans who turned out and voted for him.
While Trump may have good reason to make these claims, journalists still have the important job of covering the day-to-day actions of the Trump administration, and keeping the public informed about what is going on in their government. After
meeting with Matt Vasilogambros of The Atlantic, I further undersand how much of a struggle it is for journalists to cover a campaign such as Trump’s in a fair manner, with his rhetoric, and how anyone who tries to push him on issues are deemed liars or “fake news”. This lack of transparency is not specific just to the new Trump administration, but the Obama administration also tried to control their message as much as they could, and limited press access many times over the past eight years. We also learned while visiting the offices of NPR in Washington, how journalists are not allowed to express their personal political views in their work, attend any type of political events outside of their work, or give money to campaigns, to avoid the perception of being biased.
Trump’s attitude towards the press is very concerning for the media’s work and for the American people. The media should be free to have access to the administration to keep the public informed, and the public deserves to be informed about what is going on in their government. It is dangerous for Trump to believe that it should be his administration keeping a check on the media, because they will never acknowledge anything that may be damaging to themselves, such as the coverage of the attendance to his inaugural ceremony on Friday. The American people deserve to know the truth, and journalists need to be able to have access to it and report in a fair and nonpartisan way.