We need the media in the age of Trump

We need the media in the age of Trump

CW / Kylie Cowden

Donald Trump is a product of the entertainment media. Long before he was president, he mastered the art of packaging and presenting himself to the world. He literally built himself an empire and created the Trump brand. The Trump name is his legacy, and now he’s tacked on the title ‘President’ in front.

Throughout his career, Donald Trump has weathered many storms, and he always comes out on top. He is the master of surviving scandals unscathed. He puts Ronald Reagan—the Teflon President—to shame. At the end of the day, Trump has always been free to sit back in his house of gold and bask in the glow of his own celebrity.

But it doesn’t work like that anymore. Donald Trump has traded his golden penthouse for a house of glass. Everything he does is under the American people’s watch. We have a right to know what our president is doing, and it’s the media’s job to tell us. Gone are the days when Trump could sit back and rate his daughter’s appearance with Howard Stern; he can’t call up a magazine and masquerade as John Miller, his supposed publicist, anymore.

The New York Times isn’t going to call Trump and ask him a bunch of softball questions. He is the President of the United States, the Leader of the Free World. When is he going to start acting like it?

So far the Trump administration has told lie after lie after lie. It’s egregious, reckless and wrong. Trump’s favorite pastime— aside from tweeting— is to bash the “dishonest media.” Maybe he needs to take a good, hard look in the mirror before calling anyone else “dishonest.” It’s ridiculous that Trump continues to criticize our press without any regard for the repercussions discrediting the media could have on our democracy. A free and fair democracy absolutely cannot stand without a free press. Here’s a civics lesson for you, Donald: the Founding Fathers put freedom of the press in the first amendment for a reason.

The American media fulfills several vital roles inside the framework of our democracy. For one, the press is a government watchdog. Think about it, there would be no Watergate without Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Donald Trump gets so upset when the media questions him or criticizes his administration. But that’s their job. The news media isn’t going to sit by and coddle Donald Trump. It’s not their job to be his buddy. It’s their job to hold him accountable for his actions.

If the media wasn’t there to hold our government officials accountable, they could do whatever they wanted. Corruption would run rampant. If Watergate hadn’t been exposed, I doubt Richard Nixon would’ve said anything about it. The corruption would have continued to flourish right under the American people’s noses.

The press also acts as an intermediary institution between the government and the public. If the media wasn’t there to report on what was going on, how would anyone know anything? Sure you could go check the House and Senate websites or read a transcript of Sean Spicer’s press briefing, but how would you fact check it? Make sense of the technical jargon? Pick out what information is actually important? Like it or not, the American people need the news media to make sense of the world.

That’s why Donald Trump has to stop these ridiculous, unsubstantiated attacks on our news media. Our democracy needs an independent, free press. It can’t survive without one. The press is called the fourth branch of government for a reason.

Chandler Gory is a sophomore majoring in political science. Her column runs biweekly.

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