The president of the United States has grown annoyingly fond of calling the media that publish and broadcast negative stories about him “fake news.”
The description he uses — and the context in which he utters it — demonstrate that Donald John Trump doesn’t understand what “fake news” really is. “Fake news” are the made up accounts, lies, fabrications … the kind of thing that Trump has done for many years. I’ll get back to that in a moment.
I want to offer another word of high praise for the media for the job they have done in covering the 45th president of the United States.
The world has witnessed a rebirth of sorts of traditional, gumshoe reporting by great print media. The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal — three powerhouse print outlets — all have demonstrated the value of hard-nosed reporting. Were it not for their dogged pursuit of tips the nation wouldn’t know about:
* Russian hacking into our 2016 election process.
* Donald Trump’s presidential campaign’s potential role in that meddling.
* The issues related to the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
* The possible conflicts of interests related to the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution.
That’s just four issues. The media have done their job. They have done what the media always do and what presidents — until the current one — have accepted as part of journalists’ calling.
Donald Trump instead has promoted actual “fake news” all along the way. He has promoted the scurrilous assertion that Barack Obama wasn’t constitutionally qualified to serve as president; he lied about “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; he has lied about “millions of illegal immigrants” voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016; he lies about the size of his electoral victory; his press office has lied about the size of Trump’s inaugural crowd.
And this man, then, has the audacity to accuse media outlets of promoting “fake news” that in actuality is merely news that doesn’t slather him in glowing praise.
Mr. President, that’s the way it goes. Every single one of your predecessors has gotten beaten up by the media. Have they blackballed news outlets? Have they called the media “the enemy of the people”? Have they called individual reporters “terrible, dishonest human beings”? No. They understand the value of a free press and have welcomed the media’s efforts to hold all public officials accountable for the words and actions.
They have reacted far more professionally and “presidential” than the thin-skinned weakling who occupies the Big Chair in the Oval Office.
As someone who toiled for nearly four decades as a print journalist, I am damn proud of the job my former colleagues are doing.