By Margarita Artoglou
This week, my frustration with the Trump administration reached an all-time high when one of my friends shared a link on Facebook. It was titled “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” and linked to the official GOP website.
The questions in the survey, released by the White House, provide concrete evidence that free press is under attack from our president.
The survey gets straight to the point. Question one reads, “Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?”
Interesting. I was not aware that the platform of the Grand Old Party was classified as a “movement.”
The survey was released very recently, so the results are not yet available. But the questions speak for themselves.
Question 24, “Do you agree with President Trump’s media strategy to cut through the media’s noise and deliver our message straight to the people?” is essentially asking the American public to consent to a government that is not held accountable by the press, and therefore has the ability to make unwarranted claims to justify its actions. It is asking us to be complicit in its endeavor to restrict the freedoms of the press — and it does so in a way that might register with some people, by calling media coverage of current events “the media’s noise.”
Delivering one’s message straight to the people sounds like a noble endeavor, and perhaps even draws on people’s sympathy for that archetypical small voice in the crowd that must fight to be heard.
But we cannot equate a small voice that wants to deliver its message to the people with the voice of the President of the United States of America.
By trying to cut out the media, Trump wants the government to be the main source of news, which is the hallmark of a dictatorship or oppressive regime.
Donald Trump has been whining about the media since his campaign. Back then, I chalked it up to a childish inability to deal with criticism and bad press.
This man-baby is our president now, and his administration has had a very rough time fielding questions from journalists since taking office.
But now, equipped with an online survey, he is trying to delegitimize the press.
Obviously, the institution of journalism is not going away—but Trump wants you to put a little less faith in it. Instead, he is advocating that you put your trust in him directly.
The corruption is pretty blatant here. The White House is not even trying to hide it.
Trump supporters may feel that the media really is biased against the president.
But the president’s response to what he feels is unfair treatment in the media is an unconstitutional war on the press. It would be impossible for any politician to ever fully agree with the media’s coverage of his or her work—but it is simply part of the deal.
Even conservative-leaning news outlets are uncomfortable with Trump’s attitude towards the media. Earlier this week, Fox News’ Chris Wallace interviewed Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on his show, “Fox News Sunday,” after the president tweeted that the press is the enemy of the American people.
Priebus stood by Trump’s comments, and complained about the way certain events from the past week had been covered by the media.
“But you don’t get to tell us what to do, Reince,” Wallace said. “You don’t get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama did. Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time. But I gotta say, he never said that we were an enemy of the people.”
Wallace is right, of course; even the president cannot order the press around. And so he is fighting back by trying to get America on his side.
Fight back. Stay informed, follow journalists on Twitter and maybe take down your ad-blocker or pay for digital access if you feel so inclined.
Just do not let him win. Our democracy hangs in the balance if we do.
Margarita Artoglou, FCRH ’18, is a communication and media studies major from Queens, New York.