For as long as I can remember, there has been a widespread belief among conservatives that what they refer to as the “mainstream media” is excessively critical of Republicans and overly congenial to Democrats when they report the news. That contentious relationship between most of the major news outlets and the political right has clearly reached alarming new levels very quickly since our new president took office.
And our new commander-in-chief has not been subtle about his distaste for major media, describing them as being “among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.” One of his top advisors, former alt-right publisher Steve Bannon, went as far as to describe the media as “the opposition party.” He went on to suggest that the media “should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut.”
In the past when I’ve heard conservative folks attack the media and it’s left-wing bias I haven’t been sure if I should feel like I’m part of the perceived problem or not.
I consider myself to be politically independent and when I vote my choices are usually heavy on Republicans and Libertarians, though I have voted for a Democrat here and there when I thought they had the best overall choice in a particular race.
As far as this column goes, I have been critical of the actions of both of our major political parties on many occasions when I thought they deserved it.
I’m not an ideologue and I try and judge every issue based on an honest review of the facts involved and not as a way to support my political team, since I don’t have a team.
I’m just one voice among the thousands of men and women who report the news, and we all have our own perception of reality and inherent biases that influence how we relate or comment on what happens in the world.
And there are so many different individuals and organizations reporting the news in our modern world (some of which are definitively right or left-wing and others who at least claim to strive for objectivity) that it’s hard to say exactly who our president and his advisor are telling to shut up.
Or maybe it’s not. I have actually noticed a bit of a pattern as to which members of the media tend to get the rhetorical back-of-the-hand from our Twitterer-in-Chief.
If you write something that is critical in any way of Mr. Trump or his nationalist/isolationist policies he clearly considers you to be a part of the lying pack of media weasels who are out to get him. That makes you eligible for a presidential verbal smack-down and, if you’re really unlucky, you might get branded with an embarrassing nickname.
Taking into account the fact that I have already written multiple columns that were critical of our president’s character and his plans for the country while he was campaigning, I’m sure he’d put me on his naughty list if he somehow became aware of my existence.
And based on his early performance as our new commander-in-chief I’m not expecting to join his cheering section any time soon.
Case in point: The president issued a major change to our immigration policy on a Friday afternoon. Effective immediately. As the predictable chaos ensued at our nation’s airports, he commented that it was “working out nicely.”
It was a questionable policy change (exactly zero Americans have lost their lives at the hands of immigrants from the list of banned countries yet the home of most of the 9-11 perpetrators, Saudi Arabia, was left off) that was unquestionably badly implemented.
Blaming the media for making Trump look bad in such a scenario is like blaming the Japanese media for making Godzilla look bad after he stomps Tokyo flat. It’s beyond ridiculous, and no Mr. Bannon, I don’t feel “embarrassed and humiliated” for pointing that out.
One final note to those who brand public criticism of this or any president as being unpatriotic. President Theodore Roosevelt had this to say on the subject:
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.