President Trump’s time in office has been marked by a storm of controversy.
One such controversial issue is his opinions on broadcast news and journalists. The term “fake news” was even coined by him during his campaign.
Defined as the spread of false news stories on various forms of media, it seems that Trump uses this term as a stand-in for whatever story is circulating that contradicts his own narrative.
Thus, it is not really a long leap to suggest that Trump is somewhat anti-press. Just this last week, during a discussion about nuclear weapons with a pool of White House reporters, Trump suggested that freedom of the press is “disgusting.”
His exact words were as follows: “It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
These claims, of course, are not exactly true.
Libel laws, which date back to the American Revolution, protect against defamation “expressed by print, writing … or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person’s reputation.”
Due to higher legal standards for public officials, it is difficult to say that Trump has been a victim of libel.
However, the First Amendment protects against the government making any prohibition or abridgement of the freedom of speech or press.
Therefore, just as Trump can go on Twitter and tweet that “Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un needs to be taken care of; we, as journalists, have the freedom to write what we wish – within reason.
President Trump tweeted in 2013 that “The Republicans are always worried about the press – they should just do what is right.”
Not only is this statement ironic considering Trump ran for president as a Republican, but he also seems to be continually disregarding his own advice. Within the last week, President Trump has tweeted several times about so-called “fake news” from both CNN and NBC.
This includes the following tweet from Oct. 11: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!”
What is not fair to the public is attempting to abridge network broadcast news’ rights.
Notice how Trump refers to network news. What he likely means is news that is liberal.
As of late, President Trump has been increasing his attack on the broadcast network NBC.
It seems he has no interest in dealing with more conservative networks, such as Fox News.
Disregarding just one side of the news does not help anyone.
By taking out one side of the argument, you are effectively erasing people’s points of view and their right to choose what they believe.
Whether you identify as Republican or Democrat, an attempt to limit the press irrevocably harms our country.
Neither liberal news nor conservative news should be restricted.
Libel laws are in place for a reason. President Trump must understand this and take his own advice – Stop worrying so much about the news and do what is right.