Fake news and other views

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Every now and then politicians attack the media. One of my favourite responses was the Duke of Wellington when he said, “Publish and be damned.” In this case it was an attempt to blackmail the duke. So yes, there are times the media has not always been the knight in white armour that our ethics say we should be. There have been times when reporters have blatantly misrepresented the truth. Reporters are human after all.

That said, most reporters strive to serve their readers as best they can. Presenting the news is a difficult task. There are deadlines and limited space to fully tell a story. There is anger when someone feels their side hasn’t been portrayed in the manner they feel it should have been. When calls aren’t returned we have to go with what we have.

Politicians though have almost always had a confrontational stance with the media. We are the fourth estate and one of the checks and balances of democracy. But we are often made out to be otherwise.

Never has this been more apparent than US president Donald Trump’s recent tweet in which he wrote, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who covered the Nixon Watergate scandal, said, “Trump’s attacks on the American press as ‘enemies of the American people’ are more treacherous than Richard Nixon’s attacks on the press.”

Bernstein said that by Trump public comments was in the style of “dictators and authoritarians.” On CNN, Bernstein said, “We’re not enemies of the American people. In fact, we’re the last resort of the American people to a dictatorial and authoritarian-inclined president.”

Even fellow Republicans are concerned. Senator John McCain said it was “how dictators get started,” on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Even Fox News, which is ideologically more friendly to Trump, said he goes too far in his rants against the media. Trump repeatedly calls the media “dishonest” and “out of control.” He also claimed news put out by media had a tone of “hatred,” and “the public doesn’t believe you anymore [media] and maybe I had something to do with that.”

Personally I take offense with that as does any journalist of media organization worth its salt. It doesn’t take long to find out who’s been less than honest in the media business and we are the ones who take them to task publicly – just as we do with all other parts of our communities – and that is the truth.

I have never liked nor supported journalism that is one-sided as I believe everyone has a right to tell their side of the story. As media we have a duty to ensure that happens. In no way are we enemies of the people or the country in which we operate, rather we are doing our part to share information we all need in order to understand the world around us. Trump’s words have not kept the faith with either the people or democracy.

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