Attack on free press

Attack on free press
Former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden has criticized US President Donald Trump for frequently attacking the media. He noted that this was..

Former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden has criticized US President Donald Trump for frequently attacking the media. He noted that this was "such an outrageous assault" on a free press or the First Amendment

Background

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or to petition for a governmental redress of grievances. The media is the United States is considered an extremely powerful and important component of the nation’s democracy. In the past, journalists like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Washington Post) were responsible for reportage that resulted in them exposing the Watergate scandal. This directly led to the resignation of then President Richard Nixon in 1972.

Freedom of the press in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment is generally understood to prevent the government from interfering with the distribution of information and opinions. Nevertheless, freedom of the press is subject to certain restrictions, such as defamation law.

US President Donald Trump is a polarizing figure in world politics. He has found himself being criticized for his actions and his statements in the past. He has been accused of sexism, misogyny, racism and more. Business leaders like Elon Musk have left councils within the administration due to statements made by Trump. The President has also been criticized by Republicans for failing to forcefully condemn racism in the wake the alt-right rally that took place in Charlottesville in August 2017. Most recently, top athletes like LeBron James have condemned him.

He himself has consistently and continuously attacked the nation’s free press. He has often used his Twitter platform to launch verbal attacks on the New York Times and the Washington Post. He has often taken to calling the CNN, “Fake News.”

 

Analysis

President Trump launched a new attack at the news media recently, suggesting, seemingly sarcastically, that a “fake news trophy” should be awarded to the TV network that features “the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me).” He took to Twitter to note, “We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”

Fox Network is viewed as a network news channel that provides the most favorable coverage of the US President. Trump has often cited the TV show, Fox and Friends multiple times on Twitter. He has also defended former Fox News head Roger Ailes who his past sexual misconduct came to fore.

In a separate Tweet he stated, “"Fox News is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly.” The network responded to Trump's tweet: "It's not CNN's job to represent the U.S to the world. That's yours. Our job is to report the news. #FactsFirst". At final count, CNN’s tweet had received more ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ than Trump’s original comment.

Former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden is a frequent critic of President Trump. "If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life. Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment." The retired United States Air Force four-star general, who is now is a CNN national security analyst, has served under the past three administrations.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Trump’s rhetoric that CNN produces “fake news” is similar to responses by other populist leaders who try to censure free press. It is remarkable that a former head of the most premier intelligence agency in the world has the courage and the conviction to speak against voices that suppress the Fourth Estate. 

Comments