There’s plenty of blame to go around for the words “President-elect Donald Trump” and the catastrophic reality behind them, but the media is high on that list thanks to its failures on Trump combined with its obsessive hyping of Hillary Clinton’s email server. When one candidate is overwhelmingly truthful and the other candidate habitually lies, but people—not just confirmed partisans but media consumers in general—come away believing the liar is more truthful and the truthful candidate is more untrustworthy, there’s a serious problem in reporting. Just a quick glance at the word clouds above shows the problem. According to the media though, one of the major victims of a Trump presidency will be … the media.
Some of the issues are real. They’re worried about weaker libel protections, something Trump has said he wants and that the Supreme Court could make reality. They’re worried about less access to the White House:
… unlike any other candidate in recent history, Trump never had a typical protective press pool. He did not allow the press to travel with him on his plane, which meant they were not in his motorcade and often, because of travel snafus, were left behind. He’s banned outlets for months at a time and called out specific reporters he didn’t like. And despite the years of tradition that the White House allows journalists into the building, has them travel with the president in a protective pool and that the press secretary holds a daily briefing, none of that is guaranteed in any sort of law. It is just tradition, and not many believe a Trump White House will keep that going.
And, after a campaign in which Trump supporters screamed insults and threats at reporters to the point where the police or Secret Service sometimes escorted reporters out after rallies to protect them, they’re worried about their personal safety.
These are not crazy fears. But they’re coming from organizations that for months enabled Trump and that consistently helped him by seeking to turn non-stories about Hillary Clinton into full-fledged scandals, so pardon me for not shedding tears of blood. Essentially, what these stories say is “we failed as watchdogs and now we’re going to face some of the same consequences as the rest of the country.” Now we get the columns saying:
What we can’t do is buckle. What we can’t do is slink off and hope someone else will take care of it.
We have to keep doing our jobs of truth-telling, challenging power and holding those in power accountable — as the best journalists did during the campaign itself.
Unfortunately, during the campaign that truth-telling, challenging, holding-accountable was all too rare, and buckling and slinking off all too common, and we’re all going to suffer for it. That the media will suffer with us isn’t a unique tragedy.
Comments are closed on this story.