Richard M. Nixon became President when I was nearly eleven, resigned while I was in high school and the very first election I voted in pitted his former Vice-President Gerald Ford against Jimmy Carter.* During that time, I was part of the news staff of a school newspaper and, later, of the closed-circuit TV station, which produced a short newscast every weekday. My parents were lifelong Republicans; my Mom even held an appointed office (Township Assessor) under the elected County official. The press's war with Mr. Nixon and his war with them was a constant feature of my growing up. President Reagan and the Presidents Bush got similar treatment, not quite so harsh, and in the case of Mr. Reagan, there was an element of "happy warrior" on each side: he and the Press gave as good as they got.
So when the Press took off after candidate and then President Trump, it was more of the usual; I figure all Presidents need plenty of oversight, and if it's harshly critical, well, that comes with the job -- and so does pushing back.
I'm not especially comfortable with President's Trump sweeping and often-repeated characterization of journalists as "enemies of the people." It's dirty pool. (Which is not to say he doesn't come in for unsubtle, dirty-pool digs from the Press, as well). "Fake news" is an oversimplification, sloppily piling together overt bias, unconscious bias and the context-stripping necessary to a focused report, but it's got a grain of truth. Calling out the news media as a whole under a turn of phrase still reeking of Stalinism, that's something else.
Of course the media has counter-attacked, and of course a lot of it was predictably partisan, as overheated as anything tweeted from the White House -- but not all. Azcentral -- part of the USA Today conglomerate -- published an editorial more sensible than most by a large margin. I think it's worth reading. The tl;dr version? "Just do your job." It's good advice.
Journalists -- by which I mean reporters and editors who cover news -- are not noble, shining heroes; they're people doing a job. You should look on their work as they, ideally, look on the world: with a healthy dose of skepticism and an eye for the underlying facts. The best of them try to be unbiased, but they're as opinionated as as anyone. A lot of them have vastly different notions about politics than I do -- even so, I don't think they're enemies of The People.
* An interesting measure of the transition resulting from that election is that I know he was President James Earl Carter, Jr., just as I know Gerald Ford's middle initial was "R." but I couldn't possibly use his full name without it reading oddly.
1 month ago