On Friday, Donald Trump’s White House barred several major media outlets from a media briefing – not to be confused with a press briefing – and the wailing and gnashing of teeth was immediate. CNN and the New York Times were among those not allowed into the briefing, and the outcry was so loud you could have sworn Donald Trump took a flaming sword to the Constitution and slashed through the First Amendment.
Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and even Reince Priebus all hinted at CPAC what was to come starting Friday, and the media, thinking so highly of itself that they assumed there was no way Trump would deny them access, didn’t heed the warnings.
Trump is vindictive, and his administration is nothing more than a weapon he can use against the media. The media likes to think of themselves as a victim of a cruel dictator, a rebel force that is being oppressed. After those few media outlets were barred, others, including the Associated Press, decided to boycott the event, with many major outlets publicly criticizing the White House’s actions.
See, Donald Trump likes nothing more than to stick it to the people he doesn’t like, and particularly those whom he sees as having wronged him. We know this, and we knew going in that the media would be made to suffer for their open defiance to his regime. None of this is particularly new information.
To be sure, there is some merit to the argument that conservative media should stand with those attacked by the Trump Administration just as those who are now attacked did stand by Fox News when it was maligned by the Obama Administration. It is, I think, incredibly fair for people like Jake Tapper, who spoke out against Obama’s treatment of Fox News, to be supported when his network is now facing something similar.
However, let’s not pretend that the media’s predicament is unwarranted. They have set themselves up, with a most violent fervor, to be the opposition party to the president, reporting anything against him with a ferocity that lay dormant for the past eight years. Their sudden Journalistic Renaissance has nothing to do with relocating its way and everything to do with partisan ideology. They have gone into this fight knowing who Donald Trump is.
Whats more, the media is straight-up lying when they say this is a violation of the First Amendment. The First Amendment prohibits the restriction of the free press from reporting. Had all media been booted from the White House, yeah, I think you’d make a pretty good case. But it wasn’t all media. It was the media that, rightly or wrongly, Trump perceives as malicious. To say it is a First Amendment violation is to say CNN and the outlets who were barred are the only source of information. That is simply not true.
That isn’t to say that what happened was right or fair. Trump’s White House should, in fact, face pushback for its actions Friday. Limiting press access to events is certainly not the transparency he offered when he was running for president. His administration is doing everything it can to make an enemy of the press and turn public opinion against it.
One would absolutely hope that the administration chooses to let the public know what is going on through the press. But, let’s not pretend the press has proven itself worthy of that access. Multiple journalists, and the outlets they write for, have openly declared war on Trump, vowing to comb through every minute detail of his presidency in defiance to his election. Such journalistic passion for the truth was nowhere near so evident during the Obama Administration.
To be clear, Donald Trump did not win his war against the media. You cannot win when you don’t even face the enemy in combat. However, the media doesn’t get a sympathetic win here, either, because they have brought much of this negative reaction on themselves.
There are no winners in this fight. There are only losers, and those losers are all of us having to endure this senseless fight.