President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
“The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about (it), we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people.” —President Donald Trump, February 16 in a news conference
I remember one of my journalism professors in college setting up a projection screen and putting film roles on a now ancient looking projector that had big wheels that spun tape (this was way back in the bygone age of 1993) to show us the film “All the President’s Men” (1976). We’d all seen the film before and knew the story. But watching it again together, with the professor stopping the film often to discuss the ethics of journalism and the gumption of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, made us all want to be Robert Redford or Dustin Hoffman versions of those famed reporters.
They were anti-establishment in the sense that the facts, even right and wrong, should be a check on any politician in a free society.
This was muddied during President Barack Obama’s presidency. During those eight years many journalists fawned over President Barack Obama and often refused to dig into scandals such as the IRS’ treatment of conservative groups seeking nonprofit status or of the Obama administration’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, a secret government program that allowed bad guys to run guns to Mexican drug cartels.
Over those years the media, in general, turned itself into an institution that President Donald Trump can take swings at with a lot of the electorate egging him on—or at least quietly happy to see the media knocked back into what should be their role.
During a press conference on Thursday February 16 President Trump said, “The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about (it), we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
At another point during the volatile hour-plus-long press conference, Trump said to the media members spread out in front of him: “You have a lower approval rate than Congress, I think that’s right; I don’t know. I think they have lower—I heard lower than Congress.”
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