Many thought the almost two-year circus would end on November 8th but alas that was not the case. Pundits, polls and partisan predictions turned out to be stunningly wrong when Donald J Trump rode in on his presidential victory horse. Fast forward to the present and the media, who he vilified throughout the race, hasn’t seemed to have learned their lesson, for the ramped-up coverage continues in the same incessant vein. Wall to wall press release style footage of Trump and his transition chaos blankets the airwaves.
No one expected him to be the president-elect, although he was given billions of dollars in free coverage throughout his campaign. He was allowed to dominate the discourse simply because he was good for business. His antics, controversial and sometimes downright dangerous rhetoric made for fascinating TV and high ratings. They dropped the ball, did little investigative journalism and avoided holding his feet to the fire.
Which begs the question; how is our modern-day “reality TV” style media going to cover this unprecedented Trump administration? Several books on the election are already in circulation, which makes one wonder where that kind of deep analysis was when it was sorely needed. Fox’s Megyn Kelly is spilling all in her expose’, but didn’t inform voters on what she said Trump tried to do to gain an edge in the Republican presidential debate. That spoke to the character of the man and Americans had a right to know.
Now candidate Trump is President-Elect Trump, with concentrated power in his hands. The candidate who called the media crooked and who advocated their censorship– even after they gave him all the attention he commanded—is now the most powerful man in America and beyond. How do you think he will handle the media once he is sworn in? More importantly, how will the media handle him?
If there was ever a need for tough, investigative, fearless “truthiness” in journalism, it is now. Republicans in Washington have done a quick about turn and seem to have embraced President Elect Trump, including those who distanced themselves from him during the election. And Democrats seemed to have lost their bearings after that shocking defeat. So it is up to the media to hold this incoming administration accountable.
His transition team and appointees are already raising massive concerns over nepotism and ethics, conflicts of interest, the danger of monetizing the presidency and national security risks. Instead of draining the swamp as he loudly and consistently promised on the campaign trail, Trump appears to be filling it with Lobbyists, white supremacist, controversial generals and extreme right-wingers. Like a dictator, loyalty rather than experience, seem to be the top asterisk on the resumes he’s looking at.
So far his two top appointees lack heavy legislative experience and one is accused of being an outright racist. Former RNC Chair Reince Preibus as Chief of Staff, will share equal power with white supremacist Steve Bannon as chief strategist. But many across the country are clamoring for the Breitbart News editor’s swift firing.
Others are raising eyebrows as well, like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was tapped as an immigration consultant for Trump’s transition team. Koback is the architect SB1070, one of the most severe immigration laws in Arizona. Add the heavy haze of nepotism clouding the transition, with his son-in-law Jared Kushner having startling influence over the president Elect, without possessing the political chops to back it up—and well, one sees the need for some impressive journalism to counter-balance.
The media cannot continue to act like they are an extension of Trump, for this country’s survival as the leading democratic world power may be at stake. It is time to don our integrity mantles, be persistence, diligent, hawkish, fair and relentless in our reporting. It is time to resurrect that dinosaur concept called unwavering investigative journalism.
For the first thing to go in an autocratic state is the press. The undermining of the press starts subtly, with doubts first cast, followed by accusations, to build public mistrust. Trump used that strategy effectively during the campaign, branding the media corrupt and crooked. He even went as far as to single out reporters for ridicule of chastisement.
I’ve lived through dictator style rule masquerading as democratic rule, revolution, counter bloody coup and an American invasion so the traits of subversion, propaganda and how they work are familiar. Donald J Trump exhibits all the signs of someone who hates to be challenged; someone who wants only favorable press; someone whose ego is so fragile, that all one has to do is stroke it, to be liked. And all one has to do to be disliked; branded a “traitor,” “corrupt” or “crooked” is to be disagreeable. Let’s hope the media is extremely “disagreeable.”
For America’s Commander-in-Chief elect is someone who can easily undermine the tenets of democracy if the media falls asleep at the wheel—again. Never forget, absolute power does corrupt absolutely.