Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday night was the first stop for Mr. Donald Trump in a national tour meant to express thanks to his supporters for electing him to the White House; it was a rally whose tone was as selfless as it was self-aggrandizing. Clearly jubilant and eager to entertain, Mr. Trump, the Republican president-elect, relied heavily on his campaign shtick, except that on Thursday he spoke of his hopes for an inclusive society, while also condemning bigotry, denouncing hatred and rejecting the language of separation.
“We spend too much time focusing on what divides us,” Mr. Trump, who many times called for a ban on Muslims entering the country and who wants to build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants, said.
Yet, in the same breath that he called for peace and unity, Mr. Trump ostracized journalists, signaling a quick reattachment back to the hostile tone and tenor that made him a must-see attraction among frustrated voters. Those voters who came out to see the president-elect on Thursday were given ample time by the showman to boo the news media.
The people back there, Mr. Trump said pointing from the stage to members of the news media, “these are very dishonest people.”
Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press aren’t new, but his message of unity is, which begs the questions: Can his double-consciousness be balanced? The smart answer is no. If Mr. Trump wants to bring everyone together and be the President for all Americans, he can’t actively malign members of the news media.
Journalists are Americans, too, and if they are made out to be “the others,” a group of working people who will be publicly mocked and discredited by the leader of the free world and his colleagues, nation unification seems damned from the start.
Furthermore, a thriving democracy needs a free and fair press, and as president, Mr. Trump should work to restore Americans’ faith in it – he should indeed take umbrage when the coverage is unfair, though – rather than delegitimize it in the eyes of the many citizens who follow him.
To whom much is given, much is required, an old parable says. Mr. Trump has been given the biggest bully pulpit imaginable, and what’s now to be required of him his even-handedness, civility and restraint.
No one has the expectation that a politician will adore the news media, which is, in fact, very dishonest at times; but there should absolutely be the expectation that the President of the United States won’t routinely campaign against it. Just because Mr. Trump isn’t a normal politician doesn’t mean he should be allowed to trample over America’s social norms.
The news industry is the only profession protected by the First Amendment, which, in essence, makes journalists a protected class, and even more so, makes journalism essential to American life.
If Mr. Trump has a plan for unifying the country, which will be, by any measure, a venture of great magnitude, he’ll need journalists on the frontlines, not the sidelines. Journalists have the potential to be great allies; they are, after all, Americans, too.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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