Trump and the freedom of the press

His campaign undermines First Amendment ideals 

By Sarah Stubbs
@sarahxstubbs

Donald Trump made another jab at the media Monday night at the first presidential debate as he discussed NATO and why it should be obsolete. He said, “it was actually covered very accurately in the New York Times, which is unusual for the New York Times, to be honest.”

Trump has made one of his campaign themes the demonization of the news media. He says that it’s corrupt and liberal and often gets upset when journalists merely report on the outlandish statements he makes.

He’s so against news media that he had a blacklist of media outlets that were not allowed to have press credentials for any of his campaign’s events. This blacklist was in effect for about a year, but was recently lifted earlier this month. The outlets on the list included POLITICO, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, the Washington Post, and the Des Moines Register.

When in effect, Trump’s campaign security took this ban very seriously. According to a POLITICO article, journalists from the blacklisted outlets would sometimes be able to attend campaign events as members of the general public, but were kicked out when security realized they were press. One time, a Washington Post reporter was patted down by security at a Mike Pence event to make sure he didn’t have a laptop or cellphone with him.

Editors of the previously banned media outlets have come out and said that they are glad that the ban has been lifted, but remind the American people that we should not dismiss the fact that the ban was unnecessary in the first place.

Media columnist Margaret Sullivan for the Washington Post said it best:

“We should remind ourselves of the fundamentals: Journalists’ most important role is giving Americans the information they need to cast their vote.”

The Trump campaign’s decision to prohibit journalists from doing their jobs is a — to use one of Donald’s favorite words — huge political communication problem and is also a huge Constitutional problem.

The blacklist was a complete disregard for the First Amendment. Typically, most Republicans brand themselves as strict Constitutionalists. While Trump clearly enjoys his freedom of speech on Twitter and elsewhere, he has shown that he does not fully support a free press by making it difficult for journalists to do their jobs by blacklisting certain organizations as well as brainwashing his supporters to distrust the news media.

If politicians like Trump continue to demonize the media, general trust in the media by the public will be further diminished. There is already enough distrust. Nowadays, people seem to give more weight to political memes shared on Facebook than they do the latest Gallup Poll being cited on CNN.

Any respectable candidate that wants to have a transparent administration would hope that the public has as much access as possible to information they need to vote in an educated manner. This can only happen when politicians let journalists do their jobs.

In politics, it’s important to try to control your image and message. Your main goal is simply to win. However, any candidate’s relationship with traditional news media should never be overlooked or put on the backburner because if it is, the candidate will only hurt his or herself in the end.

The most common excuse I hear for not supporting Hillary Clinton is trust. Many Americans do not believe that they can trust what Clinton is saying.

Even though one might argue that Clinton has had her own transparency issues with her email scandals and lack of press conferences, she doesn’t undermine journalism or go out of her way to make comments on how certain topics were covered as Trump does.

Trump’s relationship with the news media worries me if he were to become president. I do not want a president that enjoys protection of the First Amendment on Twitter, but denies it in the press.

I want a president who sees value in transparency with the American people and allows journalists to simply do their jobs.

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