Trump’s War on Journalism: The “Cold War” Between President Trump and the Media

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BY: Laura Bowen, bownela@mnstate.edu

Trump is waging a war on journalism—and losing it, too

Upon hearing of Jim Acosta being banned from the White House, I was angry. After a few moments, I was still furious, but also curious. Don’t get me wrong. Every time I hear President Donald Trump diss the media, I feel like shouting. I believe it is inappropriate for the president to use his platform to purposely tear down and attempt to discredit specific news sources.

Like I said, I was curious. How long has this dysfunctional relationship been in existence?

At first, I tried going through five major news sources: CNN, Fox, BBC, USA Today, and NBC. It was too hard. There was too much information to sift through and many articles were op-eds, meaning they weren’t objective.

I wanted straight information. So, I decided to go straight to the source. I attempted going through all of Donald Trump’s tweets.

The experience was both disturbing and informative. Because he has over 2,000 tweets since becoming president and thousands more since joining the “Twittersphere” in 2009, I took a shortcut—Trump Twitter Archives.

This website has all of his tweets categorized. You can see which tweets he called someone “loser” or “clown” and even when he questioned Obama’s lack of citizenship (which is 84 times, by the way). 

I realize that Twitter isn’t the best way to compare information—so few characters, so little credibility—but it’s a start. You can easily get a feel for his attitude about anything in 140 characters (or 280 today) or less.

The president mentioned the New York Times 70 times, NBC57 times, CNN 70 times, Fox News (or Sean Hannity) 304 times, and his favorite phrase, “Fake News”—which very well could have been his first two words ever spoken as a child—racked in a total of 336 tweets.

For clarification, these numbers are strictly tweeted from the White House, not before he became president.

I noticed that Trump’s attacks on the media usually came in waves. There would be a string of negative comments about the media and then the birds and wildlife would go into hiding, and there would be an almost eerie silence.

You don’t have to scroll constantly through social media and watch the news every night to notice there is some kind of cold war goingon between Donald Trump and the media.

From what I can see, the war is not strictly with the media. “The media” is a vague term. What our president and his enthusiasts actually mean is “liberal” media.

They also may not be far off.  The left extremists very well could be plotting to turn America into a utopia/dystopia via liberal media.

However, President Trump and his band of merry men could also very well be plotting the same thing, except their goal is to turn the American people against the so-called “enemy of the people.”

The enemy of the people, it seems, is actually the enemy of Trump. He gets way too fired up over any news source that criticizes him. He throws a tantrum every time someone disagrees with him or tells him no.

Notice how many more tweets Fox gets versus any other news source. It’s because he is promoting them and showering them with hugs and kisses every time they write about him. Fox never criticizes Trump, so they get high praise. CNN doesn’t praise him, so he labels them as ‘Fake News.’

Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters are feeling the same emotions. Trump supporters feel that left-wing media is conspiring against Conservatives, and non-Trump supporters feel that the president is conspiring against left-wing media. Who is right? Is anyone right? Are we just being further divided?

I firmly believe that Trump is the enemy of the people right now because he refers to the whole scope of media as the enemy. He doesn’t want to protect the people from a certain enemy, he wants to make sure the people don’t trust anything a news source says (unless it’s the holy rollers Fox News).

Trump wants you to take his word for everything instead of other people’s. He doesn’t even trust his own staff to give out information (see his comments about the official White House report on global warming).

So, where did this start? According to Washington Post’s March 18, 2016 article “Donald Trump hasn’t changed one bit since his first media feud in 1980,” his feud with the media began in the ‘80s: the New York Times wrote about two sculptures on the Bonwit Teller Building’s façade being demolished in the name of progress.

As we all know, Trump has a lot of money, and he didn’t get all of it by betting on the ponies. He took advantage of real estate, which, when done properly, can make you good money—especially the Bonwit Teller Building, apparently.

The Teller Building was in the way of Trump Tower. This was the beginning of both Trump’s fame and infamy. The New York Times attack launched him into the public eye, and he hasn’t left it since.

If you can imagine, a young Donald Trump was just as angry about being attacked by the media as he is now. He handled it no differently than he does now—by evading the question and directing his answer to how great he is.

Should we be afraid? For me, no. That’s exactly what our president wants. It’s easier to control people when they are angry and afraid. It should not be forgotten that President Ronald Reagan had an even worse relationship with the media, and theU.S. did not lose its freedom of the press and speech.

Instead of lashing out because of anger or fear, the best thing to do is fight it. If you are a journalist, keep to the journalist’s honor code—search for and tell the truth. If you are not a journalist, support those who are. Finally, discuss. Talk to friends, family and strangers. Don’tjust sweep these problems under the rug. As soon as we are too afraid of talking against our country’s leadership, we will have entered the future of this country that Donald Trump says we are already in.4sua9sf7mn

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