Comment in response to this important article by Jay Rosen, published December 29,2016.
Yes, things are looking bleak. But The Press was given special rights in the First Amendment because the Founding Fathers expected it to do two things: report the facts accurately and fearlessly and hold the government accountable for its actions. Many pressures have caused many parts of The Press to stray from this mission, as Mr. Rosen’s post accurately chronicles. But now more than ever, excuses won’t do. The Press must step up to do its duty, or forever forego its claim to the “special treatment” it receives under the Bill of Rights.
Here are 6 things The Press must start doing right now, when its obligations are the greatest:
- Resist normalizing Trump during the pre-inauguration period.
- Call out his anti-constitutional rhetoric and actions.
- Educate the public on the true meaning of the Constitution.
- Expose and contextualize Trump’s constant lying.
- Accurately report his narcissistic outbursts and behaviors.
- Hold him accountable for his performance as President, particularly with regard to the promises he made to his supporters during the campaign.
Upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly asked by an anxious citizen, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” To which he famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Today, that question, along with Franklin’s conditional answer, is still with us, but in a distinctly modern form: Will the Trump Presidency be the start of a new authoritarian regime, unaccountable to either the electorate or the other branches of government, or will it be a one-time deal, a final culmination and repudiation of the 30-year Republican program to enrich a minute class of millionaires and billionaires at the expense of everyone else in the country? Continue reading
The “media” has become so fragmented that it is impossible to talk about it as a single entity. Here we are interested in what might be called the Free Press, that part of the media that tries to report facts accurately and hold the government accountable for its actions. Today, the Free Press includes the reporting and journalism of the nation’s dwindling newspapers and news magazines, the news reporting and commentary divisions of the major broadcast TV networks, some (but not all) of the politically-oriented cable news networks, and some of the Internet-based political news services and sites. The Free Press is not neutral or “objective,” and includes a full range of ideological orientations. Although the Free Press does not adhere to a single political orthodoxy, it does share a commitment to “fact-based” reporting and commentary. Continue reading