There are many ways battles are fought in Washington, D.C., but the contentious beginning of the Trump presidency has created a strong platform for continued attacks on the news media. President Trump's complex relationship with them has become inseparable from the news of the day.
Trump has always been a man who loved the media spotlight while being conflicted about the role it played in his life. He often courted the New York City media going so far as to plant news stories about his personal or professional life when it suited him, and the media played along when it suited them. A rather cozy affair until it wasn't. Those days are now over.
The White House is a stage not easily played, and freedom of the press is an amendment not taken lightly in Washington, D.C. A substantial group of journalists take their jobs quite seriously. A reporter is charged with being the eyes and ears of our country working to ask questions that produce answers the public has a right to know. I say this humbly having spent many years in that role feeling its enormous responsibility. Politicians may not always like the press, but most understand they have a job to do.
President Trump views that job at a target to be used without discretion whenever it works to his advantage. Media bashing is part of his play of the day. What began on the campaign trail as a way to rev up his troops has translated to a declaration of war on the media from the White House. His overt and very public disdain for journalists reached a peak when he called them "the enemy of the people", a statement generally reserved for tyrants. Trump's rants against reporters assigned to cover his presidency strategically use words designed to plant seeds of distrust. It's a sad and rather pathetic maneuver if it wasn't so dangerous.
Distractions of global conflicts cannot take away from Trump's continued ploy. While investigations into ethics violations and associations with Russia continue to mount, Trump remains committed to distraction and making headlines via Twitter. At a news conference last month with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump talked about how he can use Twitter to his advantage saying, "I can get around the media when they don't tell the truth. I like that".
Secretly I believe the man loves the news media. It's created a big problem for him as well as the rest of us because Trump can't stand criticism or anybody looking into his business. The issue is not fake news.
The "truth" according to Trump is, however, not always the truth. He's no longer operating behind the closed doors of Trump Tower, but in our very public house. And we're not as dumb as some may think us to be. Going to war against the very entity charged with reporting on the President's activities seems to be showing signs of backfiring. According to a newly released report by Pew Research Center, Americans are saying that tensions between Trump and the news media are hindering their access to political news. It's apparently not making us happy or feeling reassured, and these views cross almost every demographic group. The report further states:
Large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans feel the relationship between Trump and the news media is unhealthy and that the ongoing tensions are impeding Americans’ access to important political news. 88% of Democrats say the relationship is unhealthy, as do 78% of Republicans.
If nobody else in Washington is crossing party lines, it's not unimportant to know the public is, at least for now, taking the lead. That's the most reassuring news I've heard in awhile.