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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

BEG: Trump threatens freedom of press

News organizations like The New York Times are facing possible investigations from the Trump administration. Photo via flickr.

It was Jan. 20, 1969, when President Richard Nixon was sworn into office and officially began his time in the White House. He was the 37th president of the United States of America. Nixon felt all sorts of ways about entering the presidency role but most of all he felt deceived. He felt cheated out of the position eight years earlier when he lost to President John F. Kennedy.

Nixon believed the system, especially the media, was against him after losing to Kennedy, Mark Feldstein, a professor at the University of Maryland, said. The media was Nixon’s number one target. He put reporters on an “enemy list” to have their tax returns audited.

“At one point, his staff even plotted to assassinate his most vexing investigative reporter and critic,” Feldstein said.

Nixon’s presidency was cut short due to his resignation in the midst of serious impeachment charges. Nixon was a problematic, dishonest and corrupt president, as seen by his reputation as chief of state for incidences like Watergate.

Now, the 45th president of the United States carries on those same attributes. Trump’s recent call of investigations for large news corporations is one critical example.

According to a report posted Sept. 3 by Axios, an American news website, Donald Trump and his GOP political allies are hoping to raise $2 million before the 2020 election. If acquired, this $2 million will be spent investigating members of major media outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.

This is not the first time Trump has attacked journalists for exercising their civic rights in America, supposedly democratic society with a free press.

Any time large media agencies comment on concerns about the changes in the economy, such as a possible recession, Trump claims that it is all “fake news.” He believes that the media makes these statements to do everything they can to ensure Trump does not get reelected in 2020.

Political allies of Trump and his administration play into his excessive comments about “fake news.”

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club Aug. 19, Vice President Mike Pence said the economic outlook is strong “despite the irresponsible rhetoric of many in the mainstream media.”

Trump and his administration will blame any shortcomings in this country on the fault of “corrupt” journalism and apparent “fake news.”

After two mass shootings the weekend of Aug. 3, Trump said in a tweet that “fake news has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.”

He claimed mass shootings will increase if the media does not change its ways. Instead of focusing on the root problem of mass shootings in this country, Trump will do anything to blame his go-to scapegoat: the media.

Trump wants his followers to see the media as an enemy of the people rather than a public servant of the people. These investigations are just another ploy to perpetuate the stigma against journalists so he can continue to deflect the blame from himself.

One of America’s founding values, according to the Bill of Rights, is freedom of the press. Now, Trump and his allies plan to scrutinize that right because the media is reporting the truth and carrying out its duty of being a government watchdog.

It is a clear violation of the independent press, an autonomous entity under no governmental control, which is vital to democracy.

These investigations are a step toward a fascist regime. A characteristic of fascist regimes is a controlled mass media. Trump believes he can use his presidential power to make American citizens blame the media rather than trying to enact substantial and effective policies for social and economic betterment.

As a journalist, the possibility of encountering these investigations feels like a direct attack on what my peers and I believe in. I empathize with those being investigated because they are using their platforms to inform the public, and the president is revoking that right. One of the greatest privileges in America is the ability to speak freely and share our opinions and ideas, especially those that criticize the government.

Journalists use this privilege with great care to share the truth with the public. Trump cannot take that away from us, and we should not let him.

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About the Contributor
Aminah Beg
Aminah Beg is the assistant opinions editor for the Marquette Wire. She is a sophomore from Naperville, Illinois who is majoring in Public Relations and Cognitive Science.

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