When I first read that tweet I have to admit I reread it a couple of times. Within days my social media was flooded with news stories about “#fakenews” It got me thinking, why haven’t I seen this concept before? We have all seen politicians criticize the media. Equally we’ve all seen politicians try and make friends with media giants, *cough* *cough* Tony Abbott… Rupert Murdoch…Trump’s criticism of the media, well I think that is something different altogether.
Fake news, simply, is when an outlet publishes misinformation or hoaxes as real news in an attempt to mislead. Fake news is a serious issue, that much is undeniable. The public relies on the media for information from politics to the daily weather report. It’s essential that the media reports the facts. News outlets aren’t always the best at providing news that isn’t exaggerated, many outlets sensationalizing to garner attention. This however, isn’t what Trump is talking about. He is talking about news that he disagrees with. That is the scariest thing because his supporters will believe anything he says, thus they will stop listening to news which reports negative facts about Trump. What is fascinating but also worrying is how the term “fake news” is being used in such an offhand way. You see it now on Facebook posts, often from Trump supporters.
The media in America are not being overly critical. The core of many articles is based around Trumps quotes, tweets or actions. Journalists have admitted just how hard it is to write about Trump because they are never sure what he really means. In my opinion I found that before the November election the bias in the media was obvious. Nowadays I feel like the tone of the articles have changed to that of shock and disbelief.
In writing this article a new development has occurred. Press conferences in the White House traditionally allow the media to talk to political officials or the president (after the official conference) off camera. Despite White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s explicit statements regarding press freedom: that only “dictators” restrict media, within a month of Trumps presidency that policy has drastically changed. News outlets including CNN, BBC, The New York Times, LA Times, New York Daily News, BuzzFeed, Guardian, and the Daily Mail have been banned from those “chats”. Now why are these outlets banned? These are the news outlets that have been known to be critical of Trump’s Administration and are investigating any possible links between Trump and Russia (now that’s another article).
Trump accused the Washington Press of fabricating the story which alleged that his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had been in talks with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on lifting US sanctions on Russia. Flynn later resigned under the heat of these revelations. These talks were potentially illegal under the 1799 Logan Act, however Trump deemed the reportage of this event “fake news”. Nine independent sources confirmed that this event between Flynn and the ambassador did occur. It doesn’t sound fake to me. Additionally, it is unlikely that Flynn would have resigned if he had in fact not done wrong.
It’s hard to sum up this topic as it is ever changing. I hope the media continues to investigate and report all the facts – good, bad, and indifferent about Trump. Freedom of the press is vital to democracy, and any attempt to subvert that is damaging to national integrity.
Words by Leah Roberts, art by Harry Peter Sanderson
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 2 STOP