Censorship of the truth in Trump-era journalism
Donald Trump’s relationship with the media is psychologically abusive, and the media is suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Most mainstream news publications can’t seem to break off from being played by the Trump administration.They not only made his election possible, but have also facilitated his anti-everyone-who-is-not-a-white-cisgender-male propaganda, free of charge.
Most media companies covered Donald Trump incessantly throughout the election cycle to get profitable ratings. The issue with this was that many people were only getting the Trump side of things, and many Americans sympathized with the idea of shifting away from the establishment, as well as making an America for Americans, forgetting that many American’s aren’t white.
The point is how dangerous Trump’s 24/7 media model can be. Most news outlets do, or claim to do, what is said to be the norm of journalism: to report the facts without context. The problem with this is that if The New York Times, Politico or CNN, attend a press conference, they quote Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary who only talks about how great the Administration is, then that is the master narrative.
However, when mainstream media fact checks and provides context for Spicer’s comments, Trump announced left-of-center media outlets such as Buzzfeed, CNN and The New York Times as “fake-news”. This announcement impacted the ability for these publications to report the news to their readers, allowing only publications that wholeheartedly support the administration in the press room.
This brings to mind the saying, “Whatever a patron desires to get published is advertising; whatever he wants to keep out of the paper is news,” which is displayed on the desk of L. E. Edwardson, day city editor of the Chicago Herald and Examiner from 1918.
Political advertising is synonymous to political propaganda, and the Trump administration has promised to keep what they want in the news and what they don’t want out of it. For example, during his campaign, some media outlets barely covered his sexual abuse allegations or numerous lawsuits. They cannibalized the Trump University scandal and buried many small businesses Trump used-and-abused to build hotels and casinos. Instead, they focused on his outlandish quotes and ignorant comments, and although there is merit to proving that most of the things he has said aren’t true, actions speak louder than words. For example, if mainstream media would have focused on how Trump’s company was one of the many who has outsourced its production elsewhere in the world, his argument that the government took factory jobs away might have fallen flat.
However, more prominent than the inability of the media to escape Trump’s rhetoric is its failure to break free from his chokehold. According to the Tyndall Report, Donald Trump got a total of 1,144 minutes of coverage in 2016. The second most talked about category in T.V. news for the year was Hillary Clinton with 506 minutes of on-air news time.
If news outlets don’t talk about him, then they won’t get views. What he does or doesn’t do has become a spectacle, not politics, and the show is a distraction to keep people from looking into what is happening behind the scenes and on the floor of Congress. Members of Congress have introduced more than 100 bills since Trump’s inauguration, and they range from terminating the Department of Education to punishing “rebellious states” also known as Sanctuary cities.
Governments have used tactics such as bombarding the media with “other” news in the past. Augusto Pinochet used propaganda to justify the disappearance of political dissidents. Adolf Hitler used it to promote nationalism and hide the horrific genocide of the Holocaust.
From what we can see right now Donald Trump is using his new model of propaganda to dismantle women and immigrants’ rights, label Muslims as sub-human, negate education and stifle sustainability efforts, but whether these activities are the actual end-game of the Trump administration remains unclear.
And the media can’t avoid but help him do it.
Isabella Grullon is a third-year journalism major who will not stand for false labelings of “fake news.” You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org