I have a little bit of sympathy for Donald Trump when he complains about the media. Clearly there is a bias and there are certain news organisations that do indeed want to bring him down. We should keep things in perspective. Trump is not Hitler or Mussolini and he is not going to take away the freedom and liberty of the American people. Much of the reporting around Trump has been totally imbalanced. Indeed, the press has a lot to answer for in the current situation it finds itself in.
The banning of news outlets to a white house briefing is however where my sympathy with Trump ends. A free press is fundamental to a free and democratic society. No one is suggesting direct control over the press as in the worst and most despotic states however this is a deeply troubling move intended to intimidate reporters.
The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
It explicitly guarantees the freedom of the press. The U.S. founding fathers knew almost two hundred and fifty years ago that this freedom is one of the great bulwarks of liberty. They understood the importance of the press in guarding against despotic government. Someone should explain this to the new president.
If we look at countries at the bottom of the press freedom index compiled by reporters without borders we see states with abysmal human rights records, where the word liberty means nothing:
I don’t know about you, but I would not want to live in a single one of these Countries. I totally understand Trump’s annoyance and irritation at some of the coverage but the message I would give him if I was given the chance would be to toughen up, stop being so sensitive, get on with your job and stop attacking the press.