The *President’s Problematic Censorship Needs Appropriate Reaction
Eritrea, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan and…the US?
Those first six countries are listed by the Committee to Protect Journalists as the countries that are the worst offenders when it comes to censoring journalists.
Will the US join the list?
It’s not as crazy as it might seem. If current practice is any indication, a Trump presidency might well put the US on that shameful list.
You see, Trump has already banned an enormous number of news organizations from attending his events. Seasoned journalists say they have never witnessed anything like it before in this country. Occasionally, a journalist will get bounced from a presidential candidate’s airplane or bus, but this is on a scale that’s unprecedented. The current list of banned media organizations (which, by the way, continues to grow) includes the Washington Post, Politico, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Gawker, Foreign Policy, Fusion, Univision, Mother Jones, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Des Moines Register and the Daily Beast.
And journalists cannot even find out why or what criteria are used to justify their banishment. According to this story, it would seem that a journalist gets banned when Trump reads something written about him or his campaign with which he disagrees and then throws what can only be described as a hissy fit. This hissy fit is apparently key; after the throwing of the fit, Trump’s so-called campaign press secretary, Hope Hicks, playing the role of enforcer, makes sure whoever wrote the piece is banned.
Imagine now that this sort of behavior is carried into a Trump White House although, in this CNN story, Trump denies that he’d continue the ban if elected.
The Washington Post, one of the Trump-banned media organizations, has suggested that all of the press corps stop playing Trump’s game and join in a blackout on Trump coverage. WaPo opinion writer Dana Millbank gets more specific:
“I don’t mean an outright ban of Trump coverage. That would be shirking our civic responsibility. But I suggest an end to the uncritical, free publicity that propelled him to the GOP nomination in the first place:
- No more live, wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s rallies and events; this sort of “coverage,” particularly by cable news outlets, has been a huge in-kind contribution to Trump.
- No more Trump call-ins to TV shows; this enables him to plant falsehoods with little risk of follow-up.
- Rigorous use of real-time fact-checking, pointing out Trump’s falsehoods in the stories in which they’re reported. That’s not injecting opinion — it’s stating fact.”
Sounds like a good idea to us.
“A democracy ceases to be a democracy if its citizens do not participate in its governance. To participate intelligently, they must know what their government has done, is doing and plans to do in their name. Whenever any hindrance, no matter what its name, is placed in the way of this information, a democracy is weakened, and its future endangered. This is the meaning of freedom of press. It is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”
Walter Cronkite; Broadcast journalist