‘The enemy of the people?’
“The fake news media.”
“The real enemy of the people.”
“A stain on the American people.””
Finally filled to the gills with the invictive du jour, the collective free press crossed competitive lines Thursday, publishing more than 350 editorials nationwide decrying the broadbrush demonization of an entire industry by, perhaps, its most vocal critic, President Donald Trump.
The president’s reaction to the “evil empire’s” decision to strike back?
Another salvo, via twitter, his communication vehicle of choice.
“THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country… BUT WE ARE WINNING!”
If we didn’t have our toes in the water on this particular issue, we might find the raging rhetoric amusing – and even a tad tame as President Trump’s sallies have yet to touch President’s Nixon’s famous “The press is your enemy. Enemies. Understand that? Because they’re trying to stick the knife right in our groin.”
Of course President’s Nixon’s comment, caught on tape for posterity, was to his Joint Chiefs of Staff, not to an American public being asked to choose up sides for a “win.”
A couple of things.
First, there is no “the media.”
News reporting is a dog-eat-dog business.
It always has been and seldom has the industry been more competitive than now with an almost infinite number of online “outlets” also jockeying for readership numbers and advertising dollars.
Perceived First Amendment battles aside, media outlets seldom unite for a common cause, much less weigh in on the same side.
In fact, Thursday’s editorial wave, is a pretty good example – among the “big guys,” there were papers which opted out of the effort initiated by the Boston Globe and their opinion page writers were happy to enumerate their reasons why.
Two, there is no “win” to be had.
Politicians and “the press” are never going to have a conflict-free relationship.
It’s simply not the nature of their respective roles within a free society, within any particular community.
And if a “win” is both “sides” suddenly holding hands, sharing a S’more and singing kumbaya?
Then the public loses.
For make no mistake, if there is no free and unfettered press – love a particular media outlet or not – then who is going report the stories that hold those we elect accountable?
Who is going to publish, post or broadcast the stories that report what those agencies they created did – or did not do – on the public dime?
It is unlikely to be a politician.
Or the respective PR army we also pay for.
Think this is hyperbole from “the real enemy of the people” or a minion thereof?
Think pollution-ravaged Lake O, green-slimed canals and dead marine life by the ton washed upon our shores- and the political tap dance of blame and promised solutions that have followed in the wake of the worst environmental catastrophe South Florida has seen in recent memory coast to coast.
Think of the wave of varied and various media-reported stories, photos, and heartbreaking video clips.
A stain on the American people?
The real enemy of the people?
The fake news media?
There may not be many of us you’d like to invite to dinner, but as a profession, we’re there when you need us.
Even when – especially when – we’re neither welcome nor wanted.
– Eagle editorial