Donald Trump’s ongoing feud with the media took an ominous turn on Thursday when he called for the Senate intelligence committee to investigate American news networks.
Trump lashed out via Twitter again, accusing the media of continually promoting false stories and other fake news in a concerted effort to discredit his presidency.
This new development comes at a time when the Trump administration is already mired in scandal due to the ongoing Russia investigation and burdened with mounting backlash for its perceived inability to get anything accomplished.
Major news outlets reacted swiftly, with media giant CNN returning fire with an editorial accusing Trump himself of being the main source of fake news. The Washington Post also weighed in on the issue by posting a scathing article painting Trump as an inept president who uses the White House to spread lies to cover up his failures.
The president’s tweet also had a chilling effect for some who believe that this is a move by Trump to censor the media and stifle his detractors. Trump has had a decidedly contentious relationship with many mainstream media outlets since his 2016 election win over Hillary Clinton, the most notable being with CNN. Trump and CNN have been at constant odds, hurling barbs at each other since the network took issue with Trump labeling it as “fake news.”
However, Trump’s call for a government investigation of the media has ratcheted things up to a new level. The media is supposed to operate independently from a governing body in a free society. It is also supposed to offer neutral and unbiased coverage of all events — political or otherwise. The media should never become a promoter of dissent, but a balanced forum in which to review both sides of an issue. Likewise, it should not become an extension of the government. A media that does such a thing only becomes a tool of the state and a propaganda machine.
We now see that there is a fine line between a biased and a neutral media. Of course, we all know that this is only in theory, and if the Trump presidency has done nothing else, it has highlighted the willingness of the so-called fourth estate to cross that line with impunity, on all sides.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway of all is that the age of Trumpism has exposed American political tribalism in ways that may be irreconcilable. The left appears to be leaning just as far away from the right as the right is leaning away from the left.
Meanwhile, there is an ever-widening gulf that could soon become unbridgeable. In hindsight, perhaps long after the “Age of Trump” has passed, history may look back and decide that it was really Trump who walked that fine line and the rest of us simply just didn’t get it.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]