Freedom of the press and the prospect of a transparent government was attacked when several news outlets including CNN, BBC, New York Times and the LA Times were barred from attending the White House press briefing Thursday, Feb. 23—all of which have been publicly scrutinized by President Donald Trump.
Trump has insisted that such publications spread “fake news” and distort the facts unfavorably in regards to his administration. Those outlets that were allowed in included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and Breitbart News—some of which lean republican.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer selected the accepted news outlets. Spicer confirmed this in the press briefing and insisted the administration was “pushing back” against false narratives and information. This is a reasonable position to take after murky reports of Trump’s administration’s alleged ties to Russia. However, if the information in these reports is indeed false, then questions need to be asked, not just by those who accept your viewpoint blindly or with blissful ignorance in order to propagate an agenda laid out by those who financially support these publications.
In a society where the media outlets are largely in the pockets of corporations with government ties, there are bound to be biased sources, if not all being so. In order to see through the smoke and mirrors of click-bait articles and skewed points of view designed to insight a reaction, whether it is positive or negative, multiple news sources and points of view are needed. It’s sort of a check and balance to separate actual facts from alternative facts.
Several media outlets, including Fox News, have expressed concerns about only selected entities being allowed into the gaggle at the White House. When asked during the briefing about why the other media outlets were not allowed, Spicer said, “It was my decision to decide—you know, to expand the pool. Yeah.”
I don’t know how that even made sense in his mind, but I guess the alternative meaning of “expand” is “diminish,” as in diminishing the number of news entities by only allowing favorable outlets in.
It is important to note that Obama held several meetings with just left-leaning publications during his tenure. This sifting through the journalism pool is a threat to our existence as free thinkers in a free society.
No matter the president or how you feel about them, freedom of the press is not limited to those that support the administration. Such unchecked spreading of information can lead to regimes such as the Nazis who used media outlets to spread anti-Semitic propaganda, which led to the Holocaust.
This is extreme, but it is a possibility that our government could take control of our lives and restrict whatever sense of freedom we have into the narrow lines drawn by corporations if the public is not informed, through multiple viewpoints, of operations behind the scenes that influence our laws and culture.