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North Pointe Now

A presidential assault on the media

By Lindsey Ramsdell, Editor-in-Chief

This morning, President Trump tweeted from his personal Twitter account a mocking gif of himself knocking down a man with the CNN logo covering his face. Regardless of political affiliation, as a journalist, this is frightening.

The press is often considered the fourth branch of the government, and when the president is displaying his distrust and malice towards his own union, this is not a good sign for anyone. Besides that, there are several things wrong with this tweet.

From a literal standpoint, the tweet is inciting violence towards an essential group of professionals. The president should be using his power to advocate peace among the citizens, not tear others down and encourage followers to as well. Sadly, in this current state of the nation, there are probably some extremists out there that will take this message seriously and launch verbal and even physical attacks against journalists.

For those who defend the president’s actions saying it was just a “joke” fail to recognize that it was much more than that. Even if the president doesn’t actually want violence against journalists, demonstrating any form of malevolence towards them at this degree is dangerous.

The press is an integral part of the checks and balance system. From the Watergate scandal to the Flint water crisis, one of the press’s roles in society is to serve as a watchdog on public officials. It has been able to expose corruption and keep the public informed so we don’t become subjugated by our ignorance. This duty of the press is so crucial to our nation that it is protected in the First Amendment. However, President Trump’s treatment of it is very close to infringing upon its sacred freedom.

The society that President Trump is creating is one that is skeptical and cynical towards the media. It’s a society that makes it extremely difficult for the media to do its job and fulfill its duty to the public. If we continue to turn against renowned publications such as CNN, pretty soon we will have no one to turn to. His tweet is undoing steps that have been taken to establish a line between fake news and trustworthy sites.

Yes, there have been times when the media has gotten things wrong. And yes, it’s true that fake news is a real thing. But for major news corporations—like CNN—they are legally obligated to ascribe to publishing balanced and truthful stories. All journalists are bound to a common set of ethics that holds truth and accuracy at its core. When they fall short of doing so,they face major consequences and the truth is always uncovered in a timely fashion. So, the president’s comment on his tweet which branded CNN as “Fraud News CNN” is a gross exaggeration and a juvenile reaction.

The tweet comes at a bad time for the president as well. Just a few days ago, he personally attacked the anchors of yet another media outlet, MSNBC. President Trump’s unceasing barraging of the media is unhealthy for himself and the public, and the tone of his tweets is vulgar and sexist. I don’t want to keep waking up to a Twitter feed filled with hateful content coming from the leader of our nation. There are much more important matters a president could spend his time on instead of tweeting.

I am truly scared for the future of journalism under this presidency. Broadcast journalism seems to be one of the riskiest professions to enter at this time. Although the president suggests otherwise, we need to restore our trust in professional news organizations. They are vital in a healthy democracy, and we must protect them at all costs. Twitter fights and scathing insults towards news anchors is not the way to do so.

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