Donald Trump Has Gone Too Far By Revoking Credentials

Donald Trump Has Gone Too Far By Revoking Credentials

President Donald Trump has never shied away from the opportunity to criticize the press. He has continually referred to journalists as “the enemy of the people,” he directs rudeness and disrespect towards the “fake news” at his rallies, and he has openly threatened to revoke press credentials of any (or all) outlets. His anti-press rhetoric has become commonplace and acknowledged across the country. His actions, however, on Wednesday, November 7th with CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta are inexcusable, and the sure sign that Donald Trump has launched an attack on journalism.

Acosta, who has consistently been a watchful critic of the Trump administration, asked Trump a question about his rhetoric in regards to the Caravan of immigrants, which Trump has often referred to as an “invasion.” Trump, refusing to answer the question and instead adamantly disagreeing with Acosta’s statement, fired back: “I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN. And if you did it well your ratings would be much better.” Acosta then attempted to follow up, but a White House intern reached for his microphone, to which he held on. When Acosta attempted to return to the White House later in the evening, he was not allowed to enter, soon learning his credentials had been revoked. White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, credits this removal of credentials to Acosta’s action “placing his hands on a young woman”: the intern who previously attempted to grab the microphone. Sanders posted a video of this supposed altercation on Twitter, but this video was soon found by multiple sources to be doctored in order to exaggerate Acosta’s actions. Acosta’s true movements seem non threatening and merely reactionary to the intern’s attempted mic-grab, leaving only one plausible reason for Acosta’s loss of credentials: the Trump administration’s desire to restrict the freedom of the press.

In a democracy with a free press, the news media is tasked with the job of holding those in power accountable for their actions and words, done by providing transparency through difficult questions and relentless checking. A free press means the right of journalists to examine the system and the leaders. A free press is not the removal of a journalist because he questions and surpasses the given narrative. With a press controlled by those in power, such as one in which a reporter is removed because of an inquiry, a democracy cannot be a democracy.

Trump’s treatment of journalists is molding a dangerous time for both our democracy and those reporting on it. Only recently, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by his own government for writing political criticism. Only after building pressure did Trump condemn Saudi Arabia for its repulsive quench of free speech; instead believing the Saudi narrative of innocence until the last possible moment and deflecting the blame upon “rogue killers.”  It’s atrocious that in a country founded upon the belief of freedom, including press freedom, such a revolting action takes so long to be denounced.

And now we are seeing the same here in our own country. A journalist is not being permitted to perform his civic duty to keep the public informed and check power;  he is being silenced by a lie supported by the administration. The attempt to restrict free press is now blatantly obvious. It’s been becoming increasingly so since the attacks on the media began, and has now reached a point where denying it would be synonymous to denying the truth.

But it’s not just the President who is demonizing the news media. Trump has provided a platform for the hatred of various journalists or outlets, and his supporters use it relentlessly, constantly mistreating and disavowing members of the press. I’ll never forget my experience covering a Trump rally in Elkhart, IN from the press box. Each time the President mentioned the “fake news,” hundreds of audience members rotated around to face the television cameras and scribbling pens, their faces engulfed in hatred as they booed loudly and aggressively. This is the mob mentality that Trump creates with his hatred of the press. This is the mob that will stand behind him while he revokes credentials based on untruthful accusations and demanding questions.

What does this mean for the country? Will news become restricted, will it become just another opportunity for those in power to twist facts and mislead the public? Will reporters be given the opportunity to question the administration, or will press briefings with tough questions and honest answers become a thing of the past? These are the questions that remain as Donald Trump and his administration continue neglecting to uphold the First Amendment to the Constitution and abuse their power by attempting to silence the country’s truth-seeking journalists.