On Sept. 7, I was happily reading election results on my Twitter feed when I saw a clip from a press conference featuring the president blatantly disrespecting Jim Acosta, CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent. In this clip, Trump states that CNN should be ashamed of themselves and throws around the phrase “fake news.”
Let’s take a brief pause — it’s November 2018. It is time that we erase “fake news” from our vocabulary entirely. I have a professor that would say that I am contributing to the problem by giving the word fuel and power, but I am tired of being degraded, whether it be from a passerby asking me about “fake news” upon hearing that I’m a journalism student or from my brother, who knows his criticism of the media irritates me.
Censorship of the media within the White House is not a new thing. Back when Watergate was the topic of discussion and people were trying to figure out whether or not Nixon was going to be impeached, Nixon banned the Washington Post from the White House. As a reminder, the public would not be informed about Watergate had it not been for the work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two journalists that continued pushing, regardless of every door that was slammed in their face and every dead end that they reached.
I am proud of the work that I do and I am proud of my profession. I am lucky enough to be receiving an education in which I understand the value of ethics in writing, the importance of stating the facts and the courage to conduct some very uncomfortable interviews. I will not be discouraged by the rhetoric that our president uses and I will continue to work to speak the truth and report on what’s going on in the world.
Seeing the President disrespect a profession that he should work closely with is unsettling. Hours after the press conference where President Trump slandered the media, the White House pulled Acosta’s press access. If you watch the news clip, you will see Trump continue to insult Acosta while Acosta continues to ask him questions that the American people want answers to. This in itself is another way for Trump to censor the media; he does not like CNN, so he is trying to bar them from reporting the news.
As I continued to scroll through my Twitter feed, I found more and more videos from this same conference where he was interrupting the journalists promoting his own agenda and dodging questions in typical-Trump fashion. At one point he accused Yamiche Alcindor, a PBS White House correspondent, of asking a “racist question” when she asked Trump, who has previously called himself a nationalist, what he makes of the idea that the Republican party is seen as supporting a white-nationalist agenda due to Trump’s rhetoric.
If you watch the conference, you can see that each journalist remains calm and collected and continues to ask questions despite being insulted by the leader of our country. Even as White House interns tried to take the microphones away from them, the journalists remained strong, poised and confident. They were doing their jobs of trying to inform the people and were being shut down by the man responsible for providing the information. I look up to every one of these journalists; their bravery is inspiring to me as I grow and learn as a journalist. In order to survive the Trump administration with our sanity intact, we must continue to remind ourselves to stay informed and stay sharp. Journalists are not the enemy of the people, we are the heroes that make a democracy work.