| 03.18.2018

Don’t shoot the messenger — Trump’s media accountability survey acts as a weak attempt to justify his actions against the free press


A fraction of the people who read this won’t give it any thought, because it was written by
a journalist.

Being a journalist automatically destroys my credibility when discussing politics, because it puts me with the rest of the biased “fake news” crew that President Donald Trump has declared the true enemy of the American people.

Sorry ISIS, you’ve been replaced.

The reason Trump is the president is because a good portion of the U.S. believes what he says, despite the fact that a majority of what comes out of his mouth is demonstrably false.

But that is the problem, isn’t it? The people who can prove to the world that Trump is a pathological liar — journalists — are being delegitimized by the person they are fact-checking, who also happens to be the most powerful person in the free world.

Trump’s most recent attack against journalists came in the form of a media accountability survey on the GOP’s website. Most of the questions are so biased it’s almost laughable, especially knowing that Trump is the one accusing the press of being biased.

Questions include: “Do you believe that the media has been far too quick to spread false stories about our movement? Do you believe that the media purposely tries to divide Republicans against each other in order to help elect Democrats? Do you believe that if Republicans were obstructing Obama like Democrats are doing to President Trump, the mainstream media would attack Republicans?”


This survey masquerades a way to monitor public opinion about the media industry so the federal government can figure out tactics for reform. In reality, it’s nothing more than a cheap ploy for Trump to justify all of his attacks on journalists. This is proven simply by the fact that the government should not ever wield power over the media in the first place — that’s the whole point of a free press.

It doesn’t take much to hurt Trump’s feelings. When people react poorly to things that he does, he throws a tantrum and, like a toddler, shifts the blame to the easiest target outside of himself. Since journalists are the ones giving the information to the public, he attacks them, even though they just publish the facts.

The only media outlets Trump doesn’t criticize these days are ones that are soft, even complimentary of him, like Breitbart News and Fox News. But if given the choice, Trump would make himself the only source of information coming out of Washington D.C.

I shouldn’t have to explain why that concept is dangerous.

The great irony of this situation is that the press wouldn’t be such a problem for Trump if he just did his job as the president for once.

Blaming the media for everything does not make Trump look good. In fact, since attacking “failing” news corporations like the New York Times, subscriptions have increased.

Trump’s popularity goes down when he attacks the press. Then he gets angry at his dwindling approval ratings and attacks the press even more, which lowers his popularity further. Thus, the vicious cycle continues.

But, if Trump stopped this high school drama of a political attack and actually started fulfilling his presidential duty, then journalists would have something different to cover. The public would see him doing his job, and perhaps he would regain some of the favor he lost with the people.

There is almost no chance Trump will actually do any of this. He has proven that he is far more concerned with his image than what is best for the country.

But what do I know? I’m just “fake news,” right?

Erin Bamer can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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