*After last week’s extremely hopeful news regarding the way in which conservatives banded together against Milo Yiannopoulos. But then President Trump brought me back to reality with his double barreled assault on the media.
Last week President Trump declined to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner presumably because he believes that many of the journalists in attendance are enemies of the American people. Trump is able to spend his leisure time however he wants, even if that means golfing every weekend. I do not begrudge a President some relaxation time and activities when they have one of the most stressful job in the world. But the White House Correspondents Dinner is more than a mere evening out. It is a way of fostering good will between the White House and the press corps that cover it.
I don’t believe going would spare Trump having some unpleasant truths being spoken by those journalists. But it might change the tone. I cannot understand why Trump would waste such an opportunity nor why no one in his corner didn’t advise him on this.
Ultimately if Trump decides that he doesn’t want to spend free time with a bunch of journalists, that is his prerogative. But what shouldn’t be his is the ability to deny some of those journalists the chance to do their jobs. Also last week Trump barred multiple media companies (the New York Times among them) from an informal press briefing. Technically it wasn’t an official communication from the White House but really who’s kidding whom? Anytime Trump, or one of his staff, communicates with the media it is a big deal. By excluding certain media companies that Trump perceives as liberal he is limiting the ability of liberal outlets to report on his administration and policies; by extension Trump is limiting potential critiques of his administration and policies.
This policy of the president goes to the heart of the First Amendment, and the heart of a democratic society. If the government is only going to be reported on by those that agree with their philosophy and policies, there is no way to educate the population about what the government might be doing wrong. And if no one can know what the government is doing wrong, then where is the safeguard against totalitarianism?
After the hopeful moment of last week it seems as if conservatives have fallen back in lockstep with the company line. I haven’t heard any conservatives speaking out against Trump’s stand versus the media. In fact they should be very invested because at one point a liberal will regain the White House and then they will need access to keep our country from falling away. Furthermore it sets up the problematic situation in which conservative reporters would appear to lose their credibility because they are being kept in the Trump loop. Everyone fails in this scenario.
If you are wondering why I’d like to have this situation improved upon, even though that would allow Trump to get credit for doing the right thing, wonder no more. I detest the idea that people would dislike Trump for the wrong reason. Potentially subverting democracy is a pretty good reason to dislike him, but really allowing people to do their jobs should be the least of our expectations. This can’t be such a big deal that we forget the actual policies that Trump supports, has proposed, and has implemented that would adversely affect so many around the world. It will be extremely easy for the next president to grant access to everyone again. It would be a bit tougher to re-pass a universal healthcare bill. That’s the lead that can’t get buried by his media smokescreen.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.