Early Thursday morning, your president got on Twitter and demonstrated to the American people that he doesn’t understand how the First Amendment works, and he has no clue what the function of the Senate Intelligence Committee is.
Donald Trump wrote, “Why isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!”
Trump is referring to the same Senate Intelligence Committee that is in the middle of a long investigation looking into determining whether or not he played a role in the Russian-directed hacking and propaganda campaign that was meant to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.
The committee announced at a news conference Wednesday that it agrees with the American intelligence agencies that say Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s campaign. The committee has not yet reached a conclusion on whether or not Trump played a part in that plot.
Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican senator representing North Carolina, told reporters, “The issue of collusion is still open.”
These types of investigations are the reason the Senate Intelligence Committee was created. The Senate created the committee in 1976 to basically be the watchdog of the intelligence community. Lawmakers did not create the committee to investigate the news media at the whim of an egomaniacal president who takes it as a slight anytime the news media accurately reports on something questionable that he has said or done.
Besides, there is that whole First Amendment thing, which guarantees us the freedom of the press. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
If Trump could actually prove that he was being maliciously defamed by a media organization, there would be legal courses of action he could take, none of which involve the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Besides, Trump himself could be seen as bending the truth, if we are being fair.
On Wednesday afternoon, NBC News published a report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been ready to quit his job over the summer and had openly disparaged Trump by calling him “a moron” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon.
Tillerson did not deny calling Trump a moron, and at a press conference he gave shortly after the NBC story ran, he said, “I’m not going to deal with petty stuff like that.”
The story was not totally refuted; Tillerson did no such thing. Should Tillerson sue Trump for spreading lies about him?
A short time later, Trump followed up that tweet with another that read, “Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.”
Is Trump saying that the only good news stories are ones that are verified by him? That kinda sounds like propaganda to me, but what do I know?
As a member of the press, I think it is important that we pay attention to how often Trump throws out these messages about the media.
His base includes a segment of the population that believes anything he says. Even when he is not being honest and it can be proved (as in this case) that what he says and what really happened don’t match, they believe it. This creates a dangerous situation in which his message can become their message.
Attacks on the media are an attempt on Trump’s part to silence the media. The news media is not a public relations firm for the president.
The news media and journalists are the watchdogs of society. We are here to tell you what is going on and to hold the government and politicians and anyone else accountable when they fall short.
Calling for the media to be investigated just because you don’t like that they tell the people every ignorant thing you do is not very presidential.
But then again, neither is Donald Trump.