William H. McRaven is a retired U.S. Navy Admiral and UT System Chancellor. Speaking at Moody College of Communications, in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, he stressed the importance of news media to the American culture.
“We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
McRaven was specifically talking about a president that has set about in an effort to limit his own accountability, by clamping down on the media.
This tweet by President Trump, in particular:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
McRaven is no fluke. He’s got a solid background.
McRaven, a UT journalism graduate of 1977, shared stories from his experience as a Navy SEAL trainee, as a commanding officer in Iraq and Afghanistan and as the man credited with organizing and overseeing the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, connecting each allegory to one common refrain: To be a great leader, one must effectively use communication in everything they do. “To be a good leader you have to be a good communicator,” McRaven said. “As a leader you have to communicate your intent every chance you get and if you fail to do that, you will pay the consequences.”
And I know there are those who will argue that Trump’s words about the media are warranted, given the media’s almost total leftward bias. I’ve repeatedly said that the distrust in the media is a self-inflicted wound, and it has been going on for decades.
I’m not making excuses for the media, and I don’t think McRaven is, either.
It is a simple acknowledgment of the role of the media in a free society, and a call for Americans – all Americans – to avoid the narrative being crafted that portrays journalists as outside forces and interlopers, rather than as fellow Americans doing a job.