U.S. President Donald Trump has just over two weeks left in office and many in media are watching his every move, as they have over the past four years, as he gets set to depart the White House. However, once Mr. Trump leaves office and President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, his effect on the media will be felt for years to come.
Since launching his campaign in 2015, Mr. Trump has constantly called the media “fake news” for accurately reporting on stories that he simply doesn’t like. The media gave the former reality TV show host free air time, showing his rallies in their entirety as he spun falsehoods, put down his political opponents, and attacked the press. His supporters cheered, made obscene gestures, and mocked reports from all outlets apart from Trump-friendly station Fox News.
In an interview with 60 Minutes he lied that he never wanted to downplay the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the fact there is an audio recording of Mr. Trump saying this to author Bob Woodward, his loyal supporters refuse to believe it, saying CBS doctored the audio.
More recently, Mr. Trump tweeted the rather insane conspiracy theory that the CDC was adding more numbers to the overall COVID-19 death total to make him look bad.
“All you need to do is go out into the trenches,” he said. “Go to the hospitals and see what the healthcare workers are dealing with. They are under very stressful situations in many areas of the country. The hospital beds are stretched, people are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted.”
“That’s real,” Fauci continued. “That’s not fake. That’s real.”
We see it all the time on the occasional Twitter or TikTok video. People are not wearing masks or downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus because the President of the United States calls the media’s reporting on it and the actual facts “fake news”. In Mr. Trump’s mind, the media and the so-called “deep state” are all working together to go against him.
Lastly and possibly most importantly, Mr. Trump still refuses to accept the results of the presidential election. Just this week, he was heard on a phone call recording released by The Washington Post threatening and begging Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn the election results in the state.
“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state,” Trump can be heard saying.
Donald Trump has embedded it in the minds of his supporters and conservatives alike that the media is not to be trusted. Despite Mr. Trump leaving office and Joe Biden becoming the 46th President of the United States, the people’s distrust of the media will still linger for years to come.
Mr. Trump’s constant attack on news outlets has caused right-wing networks like Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN) to rise in popularity among Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists alike by reporting news that favors the President’s views without challenging him. In November, I wrote Mr. Trump may be leaving office but Trumpism is staying put and that has only become more of a sure thing just under two months later.
More recently, journalists have gotten sick of Mr. Trump and his administration’s lies. They’ve publicly called out the President and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on air for lying to them and the American people. Reporters both big and small have started calling out the lies from Mr. Trump and honestly, this should have been done four years ago.
As a recent graduate, I wanted to get into the journalism field to make the industry credible again. Too many websites over the years failed to fact check or put stories just for clicks and views. I make sure to wait for press releases, the official word from sources, and confirmation before reporting or tweeting anything. Journalists have fact-checked Mr. Trump and despite what he may say, they are correct for doing so.
With Joe Biden getting set to enter the White House, it is important to remember to not ease up. Cover Biden’s administration the same way you did Mr. Trump’s. If they are telling the truth or handling a situation correctly, report that as well.
It is going to take a very long time for the media to regain the trust of the American people after four years of constant drilling of “fake news” by Mr. Trump and his allies. However, if the media continue down the path they are on, I am confident that it can be done.
Words by Stephen Michael
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