When Trump lies, the press tells the public. When The Donald says something stupid, the press explains why it’s so. For a serial liar and someone hugely uninformed and misinformed, it’s no surprise at all that he would hate the press and want to wage a war of words on it. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t understand what he is so obviously doing and why attacking the press is so harmful to society.
Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Alabama Media Group
The media is considered to be the “4th estate.” To put it in simple terms (Donald Trump voters may be reading, after all), there are three branches of government — a legislature (Congress), an executive (the president), and a judiciary (the courts) — but approximately 250 years ago, some thoughtful folk decided to highlight that the press (the media) essentially act as a fourth check on the powers of the others.
Not having any governing power, you might think of the press as the least important and least powerful. Thomas Jefferson would disagree. “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them,” Thomas Jefferson reportedly told Edward Carrington in 1787. (Again, for Trump voters, note that Thomas Jefferson was a pretty big deal at the start of the United States — look him up.)
Again, the important thing about the press is that it checks the power of the formal offices of government — it investigates in order to reveal to the public as much of reality as possible, especially the stuff the most powerful men in the land want to hide.
It should be clear to anyone why Donald Trump hates the press so much. It does its job.
Cartoon by Nate Beeler / Columbus Dispatch
The press digs up the facts that Donald Trump lies about or just doesn’t know. It brings to light the corrupt private meetings and dealings that incriminate money launderers and scam artists (hint hint). It tells the public what various policies, policy proposals, and political messaging really mean, not just what the spin doctors in the president’s billionaires club want you to think.
The press is specifically there to keep an eye on the most powerful people in the government so that they don’t go too far screwing the public for their own personal gain.
Before I go further, let’s note that many people are in politics/government because they genuinely want to help society. That said, we all know there are also people in government who just want to boost their own bank accounts and brand. You know, the kind of people who plaster their names in gold letters on all kinds of products — buildings to wine to ties, for example. Such people need to be investigated and revealed for who they really are in order to help society not act masochistic. And such people hate the press.
Hugely corrupt governments — like Russia and North Korea — have “state-run” media in order to neuter this 4th estate, in order to prevent or kill the investigations that could lead to a shift in political power. Donald Trump, as much as possible, is trying to turn US media into a form of state-run media. It’s a dramatic attack on our democracy, a shocking attack on what Thomas Jefferson said is most important in our political system.
Trump voters who don’t understand that Trump’s attacks on the media are attacks on the truth, attacks on the facts, and attacks on the quality of life of the general public are basically buying into some of the most anti-democratic propaganda the country has ever seen. That said, most of them were led here by Fox News, and now Sinclair Broadcast Group (which is super disturbing). So, yeah, the Republican Party and Republican strategists and partners in crime have been leading the country to Trump for many years. How will the good-intentioned and sane ones try to turn the ship back now that they can see where it leads?
By the way, these are also worth a read: