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FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, FEB. 24, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN
WHO CARES WHAT WE THINK?
OK, OK, OK, you say. Enough already. We in the media have made our point. In fact, we have made it ad nauseum. We are alarmed over Donald Trump’s vicious descriptions of us. Besides, our precious little feelings are hurt. According to our current president, we are “dishonest.” He shouts that to the world every chance he gets. He also implies we are in cahoots with terrorists when we under report violence. We are particularly all atwitter over his declaring us “enemy of the American people.” Actually, it’s President Donald Trump who is all atwitter -- he’s all Twitter, all the time, all outrageous, all the time. But of all the foolishness that has marked his infant presidency, there’s little that has gotten our attention more than his condemnation of us and our “fake news” reports.
Fellow journalists, it’s time for us to stop with all our narcissistic coverage of the president’s media bashing. All politicians media-bash, even those who are now sanctimoniously talking about the need for a free press. Granted, the Trumpster was his usual crude self about it, declaring us enemies of America, but let’s recognize that for what it is, which is nothing more than his heavy-handed way to stifle any reporting or commentating that doesn’t stroke his childish ego. When we go bonkers with our public reaction just because it involves us, we are as childish as he is, and we play right into his little hands. We are going overboard, and drowning ourselves. His deflecting accurate stories as “fake news” only works when we even bother defending ourselves. The term has become a knee-jerk reaction from him and the jerks around him when they don’t want to deal with any critical reporting. It’ll get stale, as we do fresh stories.
After a while, it will become clear to everyone that the real watchword of this administration is “cruelty.” Whether it’s Trump and his henchpeople (is that politically correct or what?) planning mass deportations, exploiting prejudice against Muslims with poorly thought out bans or proceeding with efforts to gut health-care coverage for millions of people, this administration is quickly defining itself as uncaring. Add to that the Cabinet secretaries’ plans to unravel the social safety net that took generations to stitch together, to roll back environmental regulations that protected the nation from turning into a sewer, or to do away with financial regulations that protected Americans from once again being prey to the grubby banking predators, and this will be recognized as an administration that just doesn’t give a hoot about the people.
I hate to break it to my fellow journalists, but we are just a teeny part of this story. Our travails definitely are not worth all the focus they’ve gotten from us. Granted, a free press is ivital; the framers made that clear when they included it in the very first amendment to the Constitution. We can uphold our end of the bargain not by loudly bleating every time we get stuck, but by plodding ahead through the slime. That’s why we’re here. Donald Trump can take his cheap shots about us being the American enemy. The real president, the white nationalist Steve Bannon, can get a few yucks describing the media as “the opposition.” It won’t work. Ultimately, people will see through all that as a diversion. At some point, Donald Trump will have to provide more than entertainment. And we must be there to chronicle the good and the bad no matter how much he and his minions try to discredit us.
In spite of the contempt that most Americans feel for media, they listen to us even as they despise us. The muck makers don’t like us. So we must get used to the fact that we are the proud muckrakers and not muck it up because of our delicate feelings.
© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.