By Zihui Ni, Franklin & Marshall College
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” President Trump wrote on his twitter last Friday.
On the same day, the White House blocked a number of news outlets, including Politico, The New York Times, CNN and Al Jazeera from attending an off-camera press briefing held by spokesman Sean Spicer, further deteriorating the relationship between the Trump administration and the media.
Typically, the daily briefing is televised and open to all news organizations to report on the White House. New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet declared that “nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties”. Actually, things like this should never happen.
Admittedly, the ‘fake’ news medias referred by President Trump might report some inaccurate news or misinterpret news. It is inappropriate for the Trump administration to block them from the daily press. Living in an Internet era, people are surrounded by all sorts of information and news. Identifying fake news, thus, becomes a part of our life. However, what is ‘fake’ news? In fact, there is no standard answer. In many situations, viewing from different perspectives, people probably define fake news as the ones that go against their interests or their beliefs. When it comes to politics, the definition of fake news become more ambiguous. Holding different political opinions, people can interpret the same event in dramatically different ways. It is irrational to claim that reports coming up with different ideas are fake or wrong.
In this case, fake news is not “the enemy of the American people”. Instead, filtering out all ‘fake’ news and only allowing ‘genuine’ news to be reported is our real enemy. An open, democratic society needs opposite and diverse voices. The repression to different thoughts is the real threat to the society. Especially, when political figures with great influence try to define and control the media, it is reasonable to associate them with propaganda and dictatorship. When the Trump Administration barred those news outlets, they were actually depriving the reporters’ rights to attend the daily briefing. While, it happens just because the administration does not like the reporting. By doing so, the trump administration is violating the principles of the First Amendment. They discriminated the news outlets for what the journalists write about and treated the reporters unfairly. In addition, they are also limiting the public’s access to information.
I am not implying that all the anti-Trump news are good news and all the pro-Trump news are fake news. In fact, we should be skeptical about all these information, and should not blindly follow the mainstream media. We do not need to agree with all the opinions. However, it is always essential to embrace the existence of different ideas and fight not only for our rights but also for our dissenters’ rights.