Well the day finally came. Donald Trump is now the President of the United States.
In contradiction to prevailing wisdom, the sky did not actually fall. However, it does appear
to be hanging a little lower than it used to.
During these next 4 years, and hopefully not 8, the press and therefore the First
Amendment, will come under constant attack from this administration. Freedom of the Press
is part of the First Amendment, and it was done so by our founding fathers, because they
recognized how important a free press, which is not an arm of the Government, is to freedom
and democracy. Although two people and therefore two news organizations may see things
differently, the search for truth has always been a hallmark of those who serve the First
Amendment through the press.
The most turbulent time for the press lies ahead during the next 4 to 8 years. Never
before has the press been under such an attack by the Executive Branch. On a daily basis
President Elect and now President Trump, calls the press “dishonest” or “liars”. On a daily
basis he does everything possible to lessen the power of the press and thereby take away one
of the checks and balances that prevents a President from being a dictator. Once the press
is cowed or distrusted by the masses, then authoritarians are free to control. If Donald Trump
is anything, he is an authoritarian.
Almost all news outlets that chose to make the comparison, showed that the Obama
Inaugurations were attended by many more people than was Trumps. The use of photographs
and Washington D.C. Metro riderships clearly showed that the attendance at the Trump
inauguration fell far below that of Obama’s. Yet, Press Secretary Spicer, during his first press
briefing, categorically stated that more people attended the Trump inauguration than any
inauguration in history. He refused to answer any questions and stormed away.
Those in attendance and others afterwards were shocked by what they knew to be
blatant lies, not only disproved by statistics, but by their own eyes and photographs. In that
one statement, the formal gauntlet had been laid down. “The truth is what we say it is”,
“Don’t believe your own eyes, believe what we say”,, “Your perception and what you report
is irrelevant, we will call you liars and we will go directly to the people with President
Trump’s tweets”. Of course, this was not said, but that was the clear message.
Later on, Kellyanne Conway, whose most remarkable skill is never answering a
question that she is asked, defended Press Secretary Spicer, by saying that he was presenting
“alternative facts”. There does not seem to be a literary definition of alternative facts, but
here are some for example: lies; untruths; fabrications; misinformation; or dishonesty. It
appears that alternative facts are out there so that believers will have something to latch on
to that they can use in discussion or in debate regardless of their efficacy. These alternative
facts portend to be the hallmark of the Trump administration.
There is a saying that a lie is as good as the truth if you can get someone to believe it.
In line with that is that is it easier to get someone to believe something if they want to. So
there is 40% of the population out there that wants to believe Donald Trump. They have
invested in Donald Trump. They have raised their hands and pledged to support Donald
Trump. Therefore, they need these alternative facts, something for them to grasp onto, to
justify their beliefs and their allegiance. If enough people believe these alternative facts like
they do, then they are surrounded in a cocoon of belief and the real facts must be just a spin
put on things by the deceitful and false media. All great dictators have used this spin and
Hitler, Putin, Castro, Mussolini and the rest have all had the ability to either silence
the press, or to make it an arm of their Government. Only the message they want to get out
gets out and messages that disagree with their message are thereby false by definition. As
they get more powerful, the press becomes weaker. Eventually, the press becomes nothing
more than their propaganda.
This is the evil that this administration would like to bring forth upon the American
people. They wish to control the press. They wish to control the truth. They wish to control
the lies. They wish to control the perception. They wish to control what is reported. They
wish to control what is heard. And they wish to shape it to the extent that they want to tell
you, don’t believe your own eyes, believe what we tell you.
Yes, the press is in for a rocky 4 to 8 years. But it is up to us, the American people,
to support the press. Not every word that the press says is right. The belief that a free press,
even with their miscues which they invariably will have, is important and essential toward
democracy cannot waiver. During these 4 to 8 years the press will have to stand up for us,
but we also must stand up for it. The First Amendment and Freedom of Speech and Freedom
of Press is too important to allow a would-be dictator, and a thin-skinned demagogue to ruin
over 200 years of balance of power.