This article is the first installment in a series on this blog about the relationship between President Donald J. Trump and the news media. Installments will be posted at least once a week on Thursdays, so stay tuned.
On Monday at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, Florida, President Donald J. Trump criticized the news media because of the extent of their coverage of terrorist attacks. The White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks they think didn’t get the coverage they deserved. This list includes the attacks in San Bernardino California, Orlando Florida, Paris France, and Nice France. Out of the 78 terror attacks listed, only a dozen of them were in the U.S., which from the get-go will reduce the extent of which the American news media covers it.
“It’s gotten to the point where it’s not even being reported,” he told a group of senior military commanders. “And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.”
The president implied that the press has an ulterior motive to neglect such terrorist attacks.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “we must try to find ways to starve the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.” What she is saying is what many experts on the subject amplify. Most terror organizations commit acts of terror to publicize themselves and their cause, they always have a cause. If they don’t get the coverage they so desperately need, that effectively diminishes any effect on the public or to their organization. Terrorists thrive on coverage, it gets the word out, it can get recruits to join their organization and believe in their cause, and it can inspire other terrorist attacks. But most of all, it inspires a feeling of deep fear and insecurity in the public.
Although as a citizen it seems anti-democratic to omit terrorism coverage, because to me an ignorant citizen is a gullible citizen. We are at our best as a nation when we as a country are all engaged in working to make our country a better place, not when only the rich and powerful are aware of current events. It’s easier to control unintelligent people, it’s also harder for terrorists to succeed if their horrific actions are not publicized.
More on the speech the president gave at MacDill Airforce Base. The president did not immediately provide evidence to support his claim that the media does not sufficiently cover certain terrorist attacks for their own reasons.
The claims he made closely resemble a comment made by Kellyanne Conway, one of the president’s top surrogates. To substantiate her and the president’s claims that the media doesn’t cover certain terrorist attacks sufficiently, she referenced the nonexistent Bowling Green Massacre. Conway later said that she “misspoke.” The comment was made on MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
In the first days of his presidency, he has now twice gone after the press at major U.S. national security sites and gatherings. Trump said in a speech at the Central Intelligence Agency that “dishonest” news reporters were spreading lies about the size of his inauguration crowd.
His visit to the Air Force Base is likely an effort by the president to show that he is a friend of the military. Although if that were true, he wouldn’t freeze hiring at the Veterans Administration, and already understaffed agency.
President Trump is a federal employee. He is our leader, and his words carry weight. When he says the media is corrupt, and that negative news is fake news, people listen. He and his administration should consider that before they put out a statement or write a tweet that attacks an institution founded on free speech that is guaranteed by the constitution- a document the President vowed to protect.
New installments of WWIII: Trump v. The Media will be published every Thursday in the afternoon.