Is the news media “the enemy of the American people”?

No, I don’t think it is. To me, this is another instance of President Trump overstating his case, and rather recklessly.

But Trump’s claim can’t be dismissed simply by jeering at it. Nor can it be countered, as Dana Milbank tries to do, by citing the sympathetic backgrounds of various Washington Post writers.

Trump never said that everyone who works in the news media is an enemy of the people. In any event, the fact that, for example, a newsman was raised by a single mother and worked his way through college doesn’t mean he can’t be an enemy of the American people.

The best test of whether the new media fits Trump’s description occurs when an outlet has to decide whether to publish information the widespread knowledge of which threatens to harm members of the American public. Does it put the interest of public safety first? Or is its decision driven by other interests such as the desire for recognition or to harm an administration it doesn’t care for?

In my view, the New York Times behaved like an enemy of the American people when it published a story disclosing our government’s highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program. I agree with Scott that the story wantonly undermined an important national security program for no arguable public purpose. I agree with Tom Cotton that the Times endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers, again, for no arguable public purpose.

This isn’t the only instance in which the news media has put its interests ahead of the interest of Americans. However, I don’t know how widespread the practice is. When the media decides not to publish information because of its potential harm to America, we don’t know about it.

Thus, I think it would be unfair to conclude that the news media is an enemy of the American people based on a handful of instances in which it acts as such. As Tom Cotton once told the New York Times, we should not “paint with such a broad brush.”

It would, though, be fair to observe that many in the news media view a large portion of the American people contemptuously. My impression is that many look down on Trump supporters, and before that Tea Party sympathizers, viewing them as bitter, racist, and incapable of understanding that their interests are best served by left-liberalism (“what’s wrong with Kansas” and all that).

This doesn’t make media members enemies of the American people. However, it’s easy to understand why many Americans would have that sense.

Trump probably based his characterization of news media on his view that many of its members indulge in highly biased reporting — in particular biased reporting about him and his policies. I agree that the mainstream media has a strong pro-liberal bias. Power Line points to what we consider examples almost daily.

A media that slants its news coverage strongly in favor of one political/ideological side, while purporting to be objective, does the American people a disservice. However, I don’t think this makes it an enemy of the American people. That characterization seems too sinister.

Trump is on firmer ground when he calls the news media “dishonest.” But then, Trump is no paragon of honesty either.

In that sense, it can be argued that President Trump and the mainstream media deserve each other. But let’s remember that we were saddled with the liberal mainstream media long before Donald Trump emerged as a political force.

Responses

-->