President Donald Trump, in what seems to be an effort to brand the mainstream media as conspiring against him and the American people, has now gone after the press as blameworthy for not keeping America safe from terrorist attacks. In a speech in Florida, the president stated that the media was purposely covering up terrorist attacks by not reporting them or not giving the attacks proper coverage. He then implied that the “dishonest press… have their reasons…”
The war between Donald Trump and the press is nothing new, nor is the disdain which he shows the Fourth Estate whenever a particular story is not favorable to him or his administration (which is a continuation of the relationship he had with the press throughout his presidential campaign). He often refers to the media as “dishonest” and even attacked reporters at a White House press conference as representatives of “fake news.” But now, after his executive order issuing a travel ban on seven Muslim countries has been suspended by a Washington judge, Trump, following a quick finger-pointing at Judge James Robart for his decision should any terrorist attacks occur, turned his attention on the press as the ultimate culprit behind why his administration is not being allowed to make the United States safe from terrorism.
As reported by the Washington Post, President Trump called out the media during a speech at the U.S. Central Command in Florida.
“You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
Trump offered his views without one shred of proof. In fact, the two terrorist attacks he mentioned, Paris and Nice, were extensively covered by the media. As for Europe, so were the Brussels, Berlin, and Istanbul (technically, a city in both Europe and Asia) attacks.
But you do not need proof if the only point you are making is that the press seems to be colluding, inadvertently or purposely, with terrorists. Or covering up terrorist activity by simply not reporting it. “And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it,” Trump said. “They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
The press is dishonest. They sometimes don’t want to report on terrorist attacks. They have their reasons. All of Trump’s accusations are non-specific and vaguely allude that he does not need to explain what is going on. Because he doesn’t — at least to those who understand that the media is untrustworthy, is biased in its reporting (when it actually reports), and may have some hidden agenda that might or might not agree with the goals of terrorists.
Spoken like a true conspiracy theorist.
Still, more ominous than the blanketing aspersion that the media is somehow purposely conspiring to make the United States less safe against terrorism is the insinuation that the press, due to its non-reporting or biased reporting, will be to blame if a future terrorist attack befalls the U.S. That’s right. The blame for the next terrorist attack on American soil can already be placed at the news desks of the media, because their collective complicity in not reporting or reporting with bias makes them culpable in not keeping the American people — people like Judge James Robart, who suspended Trump’s controversial travel ban — properly informed concerning the true danger of terrorism. (Read: Radicalized Islamic terrorism, because there were no predominantly Christian or Buddhist nations on the list of banned countries.)
Trump’s calling out the news media as orchestrating some kind of shadow conspiracy that facilitates terrorism shows the new president is willing to say just about anything to win support for his ideas and programs, even those that might be constitutionally suspect. And it is exactly why the decision to suspend the executive order was made.
But, as Trump has shown time and again, a voiced difference in opinion, one opposed to his own, is akin to a personal attack. And in his usual take-no-prisoners style, he has gone after the media, which has, by and large, panned his travel ban as unconstitutional, unethical, and even un-American.
And even if the United States was to be hit by a terrorist attack tomorrow, the blame for the attack could not be placed on the media, at least not in such general terms. First of all, the media did not write a constitutionally questionable executive order. The media did not make a judicial decision to suspend such an order. The media, whether it reported on attacks (with or without bias) or did not, would not be responsible for a terrorist attack — unless, of course, actual members of the media were involved in the plotting and actualization of said attack, or if said media members knew beforehand of an attack and did nothing to mitigate the act.
No, there would be but one entity with which to find ultimate blame for a terrorist attack: The terrorists themselves.
The mainstream media represent many things to many people and organizations, and, yes, many of the outlets can be biased, unfair, and/or prone to ideological rigidity. Many of those outlets may also be, for whatever reason, positioned in opposition to President Donald Trump and his administration on various — perhaps all — policies. But there is no evidence to suggest that the media, the president’s protestations notwithstanding, has in the past or will in the future act in any way terroristic.
The Fourth Estate’s freedom guarantor in the Constitution was provided as a check to the potential for an all-powerful and secretive executive officer, a bulwark against tyranny. Trump’s latest shot in an ongoing feud with the media has left him looking petty and ill-advised in an attempt to further undermine the credibility of the press. But it is a baseless accusation and insinuation, sounding every bit the conspiracy theory and something even a successful businessman like Trump cannot sell.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]