A local Facebook group informed me Friday that I am no longer a member of its “private group” because “you’re media and media cannot be trusted.”
Get the same thing in emails.
“Consider yourself an enemy of the state,” read one received earlier this week. “Why don’t you just go away.”
Read another: “President Trump will purge your kind from this nation. You’re scum.”
Reads a Twitter post: “Pack up and leave, you traitor.”
Many friends in newspapers, broadcast and web-based media find the same hatred of what we do.
Media criticism is as old as the journalism profession itself. Benjamin Franklin used his older brother’s newspaper, The New-England Courant, to publish tirades against what was then considered the “mainstream media” thinking by submitting a series of 14 letters under the pseudonym of Silence Dogood.
Franklin was 16 at the time and his brother, James, did not know the letters that became popular at the time, came from his teenage sibling.
Writes Tom Standage of New Media:
James was furious when 16-year-old Benjamin admitted to having written the letters. This tale does not simply illustrate Benjamin’s ingenuity and writing prowess; it also shows how newspapers at the time were open to submissions from anyone, provided they expressed an interesting opinion. Small and local, with circulations of a few hundred copies at best, such newspapers consisted in large part of letters from readers, and reprinted speeches, pamphlets and items from other papers. They provided an open platform through which people could share and discuss their views with others. They were, in short, social media.
“Social media” like Facebook, Twitter and other forms of current and emerging technology, give new and broader voices to anyone with a keyboard and an Internet connection.
Without Twitter, Trump might not be the 45th President of the United States but he claims he really doesn’t like Twitter but finds it necessary to get his “message out” because the “mainstream media” is always publishing “lies.”
Interesting, since what Trump calls “lies” are most often articles “fact checking” the many falsehoods of his celebrated and exaggerated lifestyle and unbridled ambition.
“I don’t like tweeting,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “I have other things I could be doing. But I get very dishonest media, very dishonest press. And it’s my only way that I can counteract.”
Trump followed up the interviews with, of course, a tweet:
If the press were honest – which it’s not — I would absolutely not use Twitter.
So I went back to look at some of Trump’s tweets.
On Twitter, he claimed seeing a news videotape of “thousands of Muslims cheering the burning twin towers” on 9/11.
He never identified the “news videotape” and a survey of broadcast media said no such videotape ever existing because no crowds of Muslims were ever found to be cheering in New Jersey, where Trump said the event never occurred.
Trump claimed he had “proof” that President Barack Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate was “a fake” because Obama was actually born in Kenya and, therefore, was not a legal President. The “proof” was never presented and Trump tried to take credit for “forcing” Obama to verify his American birth.
He did not limit his complaints to Twitter.
When the new President came under fire for mocking a New York Times reporter with a disability, he claimed he never did so. Video proved otherwise. When asked about his nasty criticism of the American intelligence community, he claimed he never said any such thing. His own tweets proved otherwise.
In the first Presidential debate, Trump said:
First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt, and the pile-on is so amazing that the New York Times actually wrote an article about it, but they don’t even care. And it’s so dishonest, and they’ve poisoned the minds of the voters.
Greg Sargent, in The Washington Post, looks now at President Trump and writes:
This is not a conventional dispute over the facts. It is not about “relations” between the press and the White House. It is about truth and power. The message this is designed to send is that Trump has the power to declare what the truth is, and the news media does not. The Trump White House is maintaining this posture while telling enormous, demonstrable lies, but no matter — according to the new White House Ministry of Disinformation, the truth is what Donald Trump says it is. Bank on it: This will hold true even when Donald Trump contradicts Donald Trump.
Which is how those of us in “the media” became enemies of the state.