In one of his famous Twitter rants, the president of the United States attacked CNN and said he’d like for the US to create a state-run media.
“While CNN doesn’t do great in the United States based on ratings, outside of the U.S. they have very little competition. Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice portraying the United States in an unfair…”
This is how Trump’s Twitter rant began on Monday. Here’s how it continued. “…and false way. Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”
The ramifications of this statement are far-reaching. What Donald Trump is essentially suggesting is a state-run media, the likes of which can be found in countries such North Korea, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
In these countries, there is no free speech. There is no First Amendment granting the right to free speech. There is little to no protection for journalists, as the world saw with Jamal Khashoggi. The American-based journalist walked into a Saudi consulate in Turkey and never walked back out.
He was tortured and he was murdered. He ran afoul of the Saudi government, you see, where journalists do not have the freedom to share their opinions — or even the facts.
With this tweet, Donald Trump is essentially praising a tactic that has been employed by dictators the world over to silence opposition and retain power. What Donald Trump is suggesting is the sort of stuff so frightening, every American ought to be shaking right now.
The United States does not have a government-sponsored media. The US currently has a free media. Anyone, at any time, can share their thoughts, facts they’ve uncovered, or stories they want to tell. There are some media organizations that do receive government funding, such as NPR, but these organizations have strict charters in place that require they maintain political independence.
History and present-day knowledge is littered with examples of how state-run media organizations don’t report the facts. In essence, they are propaganda machines used to support whichever dictator, monarch or military ruler is in power.
Donald Trump has publicly praised known dictators and openly admired the “power” they display. He has also repeatedly and consistently attacked the media. Trump adopted “fake news” as one of his all-time favorite phrases, and uses it liberally on Twitter and elsewhere.
Among the networks that Donald Trump has cited as “fake news” are CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC. Tellingly, Fox News has never been called “fake news” by the president, who is famous for watching the cable news network frequently.
The White House recently outlined a list of rules for all journalists at official press briefings to follow, according to New York Daily News.
Now, he is openly suggesting that the US government use a tactic employed by dictators around the world to silence journalists and freedom of speech, a right that is supposed to be guaranteed to all Americans under the First Amendment.
But the First Amendment didn’t protect Jamal Khashoggi. Soon, it may no longer protect any of us.