By Torch Editorial Staff
Shortly after Donald J. Trump took the Oath of Office last week, protests rang out across the world. The Women’s March sent a message to the 45th President and his administration that our country will not become the hateful, fear-mongering nation he wants it to be.
While there are many concerns about the next four years, journalists covering Trump remain worried about their future covering government affairs.
The Guardian reported that multiple reporters were arrested while covering protests on inauguration day. Police have charged four of them with under a Washington D.C. law against rioting. Vocativ reporter Evan Engel and Alex Rubinstein of RT America are two of the reporters being charged with these supposed crimes, despite no evidence of the individuals actually participating in the rioting. Many have called for the charges to be dropped, but the accused still await their hearings in the coming months.
President Trump did not personally call for their arrest, but it may signal the dark days of what is to come under his time in office. These writers were arrested for simply being at the scene of a protest and falsely accused of wrongdoing. This situation does not bode well for future press freedom whatsoever.
The new president’s personal animosity towards the press is no secret. He called CNN reporter Jim Acosta “fake news” at a press conference shortly before he took office and then called on a reporter from Breitbart, a conservative media outlet run by Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer created a stir when he blatantly lied to the the White House press corp about the crowd size claiming that, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”
Despite this being obviously false, the White House will not back down from the claim. This just adds to the list of the lies and deceit coming from the new administration. And it proves that there is nothing that Trump will not lie about.
The next few years will either be detrimental to journalists, or it will push them to do the best work they’ve ever done. Following the coup in Turkey this past summer, President Racep Tayyip Erdogan cracked down viciously by arresting a number of journalists and academics because he believed they caused the strong dissent against him.
A recent article on The Nation compared President Trump to Erdogan:
“Until now, Trump has played along with Erdogan’s game—rhetorically, at least. He has praised the Turkish leader for his strength in the face of adversity, and ignored the purges of civil servants and persecution of journalists, which have caused other world leaders to reconsider Turkey’s place in the international order,” Anna Lekas Miller writes.
Journalists covering Trump should be frightened by how bad it may get under this new administration, but they must not cower in fear. These next four years are bound to be tumultuous and reporters have an obligation to cover every single thing that Trump does- good or bad. If the president decides to stomp on journalists’ rights to cover him, then we must fight back.
When he calls reputable news organizations fake, he is undermining the press’ vital role in our democracy and making a feeble attempt at covering up his misdoings.
It is the press’ role to hold all government officials accountable for their actions. And there should be no backing down despite any new challenges that they may now face.