Opinion: Shooting the messenger is not good for you or democracy Mr President

by | Feb 25, 2017 | History, Seradata News | 0 comments

US President Donald Trump has decided to ban certain media groups from White House press conferences. These groups include the BBC, the CNN, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and the New York Times. President Trump subsequently withdrew from the century-0ld tradition of attending the White House correspondents’ dinner which is due to occur in late April.

The reason is that President Trump has been angered by these media outlets’ coverage of him and his administration so far. Trump’s assertion is that the mainstream US and foreign media prints or broadcasts “fake news” and was thus an “enemy of the American people”. The World’s press, television, radio and internet media as a whole is now up in arms at the move and is now threatening to boycott further briefings en masse.

And rightly so, for a free press is fundamentally a major foundation of a democratic society (note how Russia can no longer be called a true democracy for this reason). We write this as an organisation which reports on the US Space Programme, and sometimes makes criticism (hopefully constructive) in its editorials.

While it is true that several major western news organisations do have a left-of-centre political bias (although probably not the Daily Mail), it should be realised that this bias is not in their news values and reporting. Most of these organisations professionally do their best to make sure that this is true and correct. However, this bias is sometimes more apparent in their editorial agenda – either in comment sections or in their running orders. That is, they tend to promote some stories in their headlines over others. For example, a Trump administration foul up may command a bigger headline than President Trump’s most recent achievement. However, both will probably be printed/broadcast and both should be correct. Likewise, so long as they do not mess with the facts, then they are also entitled to their opinions in their editorial lines.

Yes – some of the politically correct “preachy” attitudes of some of these news outlets can get a bit nauseating – especially when these same news organisations do not live up to their own declared diversity ethos…the BBC’s poor treatment of some of its own older presenters comes to mind. Nevertheless, most wise people will still turn to the BBC, CNN and the New York Times for truthful reporting, rather than from the likes of Fox News, Russia Today or any other very biased media organisation and propaganda outlet. By the way, even the right wing Fox News, which is striving to improve its own reputation, has opposed this latest move.

One other thing, in case President Trump does not think these news outfits are treating him fairly. While being fair to all parties is right and proper, being totally impartial not always a good idea. Sometimes organisations like BBC, CNN et al are at times a little too keen to give both sides of the argument, often giving a minority view too much airplay.

Likewise, in trying to be impartial, reporters and analysts can even give out information which may actually be helpful to enemies of the state. Infamously, the BBC forgot which side it was on during the Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina in 1982 when they broadcast the British forces’ plan to attack Goose Green on its World Service. They also helped Argentina’s Air Force by reporting that they were dropping dud bombs on Royal Navy warships due to poor low level fusing which they duly fixed.

Thus, Donald Trump has to find another way of dealing with a seemingly hostile media groups rather than making just an outright ban on them. Perhaps he should remember Aesop’s fable about the North Wind and the Sun. The lesson is that being nicer to people in the media might have better results than trying to force them into your way of thinking.

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