In August, President Donald Trump had the following to say about the media during an interview with Fox News:
No, not at all. But the fake news is, and the fake news is comprised of — it’s a lot. It’s a big chunk, okay? Somebody said, ‘What’s the chunk?’ I said, ‘80 percent.’ It’s a lot. It’s a lot. If I do something well, it’s not reported. Other than in the 20 percent.
The comments were in response to Ainsley Earhardt asking the President, “Is the press the enemy of the people?” The question harkened back to a tweet by Trump, in which he claimed the press was indeed the enemy of the people, leading to a firestorm of controversy.
They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2018
The tweet from President Trump came after the Capital Gazette Shooting on June 28 of this year, when a gunman entered the Annapolis, Maryland newsroom and shot Rebecca Smith (34), John McNamara (56), Rob Hiaasen (59), Gerald Fischman (61), and Wendi Winters (65) to death. The President originally denied a request from the city to lower United States flags half-staff in recognition of the tragedy. The decision drew the ire of Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? Is there a cutoff for tragedy? This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy,” Buckley said to the Baltimore Sun. Soon after, Trump would agree to lower US flags.
On October 2nd, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was slain inside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey — igniting an international scandal. Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, resulting in the Saudi government paying the United States $100 million after making a pledge during the summer.
However, many were skeptical of the payment as Saudi Arabia denied any wrongdoing in relation to Khashoggi, despite a slew of evidence showing otherwise. On October 19th, Saudi Arabia changed their story regarding Khashoggi, admitting that he died inside the consulate.
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN) October 19, 2018
The peculiar story of Kashoggi beginning a fight with approximately 15 specialized members of a Saudi hit team is unlikely, raising further questions about the legitimacy of the investigation by Saudi Arabia. Throughout the situation, President Trump has stated he wishes for the United States to continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia despite Kashoggi and the atrocities in Yemen. “Well, it depends on what the sanction is. I’ll give ya an example. They are ordering military equipment. Everybody in the world wanted that order. Russia wanted it, China wanted it, we wanted it. We got it,” he stated during a CBS interview with Lesley Stahl.
“I tell you what I don’t wanna do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these com– I don’t wanna hurt jobs. I don’t wanna lose an order like that. There are other ways of– punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true,” he also stated during the interview. However, the Associated Press fact-checked the President’s claims of how many jobs the weapons deal will create. Commenting on an interview he gave with Fox Business News:
THE FACTS: Trump’s wrong to suggest that he has $110 billion in military orders from Saudi Arabia. A far smaller amount in sales has actually been signed. His State Department has also estimated much fewer U.S. jobs than Trump’s figure of 500,000 to 600,000, projecting “potentially tens of thousands.”
The United States President took another peculiar stance in regards to the freedom of the press earlier in the week when he praised Greg Gianfotre, US Congressman from Montana who was convicted of assaulting Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs who asked about the Republican healthcare plan, which would have stripped healthcare rights away from citizens of the state. Gianforte did not serve any jail time for his assault, and Trump lauding him with praise for his assault on a journalist is alarming. Jacobs and the Guardian released a video concerning the incident.
The press is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution; however, President Trump has shown that he only values media which cover him in a positive light. The goal of journalism is to investigation information and present objective information to the populace. Political journalism and stenography are two separate practices, journalists refusing to present facts are choosing to appeal to a specific audience not interested in the truth. While the state of journalism has issues within the United States, it’s vital the press remains free and independent.