Enemy of the People?


Emily Simon

A free press has become the staple of American democracy.

Patrick Ales, Staff Writer

The latest dispute between President Donald Trump and the media has resulted in the first use of Trump’s discretionary power to restrict access to his White House. CNN’s Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta has been an outspoken critic of the President and his relationship with the media. Their most recent encounter at a press conference captures the mutual disdain between the two. Acosta began posing questions about the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election hacking, after answering one of Acosta’s many questions, Trump decided to move on to the next reporter. A heated exchange followed as Acosta refused to give up the floor as he further questioned and President Trump responded by calling him a “rude, terrible person.” In the wake of the incident, the White House revoked Acosta’s press pass, stripping him of all access to the White House press pool.

“This situation could have been handled privately and without such extreme measures that have negative ramifications towards a free press,” senior Angelle Garcia said.

Jim Acosta is a well respected, experienced journalist and should know better than to continue badgering anyone, especially the President after he has moved on to questions from another reporter. There should be a certain level of civility within any press conference at the White House, regardless of who currently resides in it, that prevents Chief White House correspondents from shielding the microphone from interns. As for President Trump, he is responsible for lowering the level of discourse in his interaction with the media that it seemed almost normal for him to berate Acosta over a largely insignificant lapse in judgment. Then comes the revocation of Acosta’s press pass, which has prompted CNN to sue the White House over violations of the first and fifth amendments. A drastic step by the administration to punish Acosta for his actions is overbearing at best and anti-democratic at worst. While developments in the scandal have led to Acosta regaining access to the White House, a dangerous precedent has been set, one that gives the administration little to no accountability for the punishment of a press that is supposed to function independently.

“There is a price we pay for freedom of the press, and sometimes exchanges like the one Jim Acosta had with President happen because of that, ugly as they may be,” senior Dylan Carol said.

For an administration that has so openly become an adversary of the press, this is yet another mishandled situation in a long line of mishaps that put them on a trajectory for further, more serious, issues with a free press. Outrage over the administration’s reaction sparked further debate about Trump’s growing distaste for any media coverage that paints him in a bad light. Often quoted as saying that the ‘fake news’ media is the enemy of the people, Trump has fostered a sense of distrust for the media among many of his supporters, and while it’s undeniable that many news outlets have turned towards sensationalism in recent years, to insinuate that a free press is an enemy to a democratic population is dangerous and reckless coming from the President.

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