The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Letter to the Editor

Letter+to+the+Editor

Dear Editors,

I am writing in response to an opinion by Angelo Pizza, “Manipulation of the Masses: Commander in Chief Victim of Media Attacks” published in the Feb. 1 issue of The Hawk. The writer is contributing to an on-going national conversation. I do, however, want to address numerous misconceptions and inaccuracies in the piece. I will address a few important points that I believe are important to correct.

First, the writer identifies President Trump as being subject to “aggressive analysis and harsh scrutiny” from mainstream media sources simply because of his Republican ideals. The most fitting reason for the media’s approach toward our current president is, of course, not his party, but his seemingly endless and inappropriate actions and statements. Unlike any other president before him, President Trump has no government experience, refuses to give up his business interests, has failed to disclose his financial records, and was recorded as saying that he has committed unwanted sexual advances toward women. It can’t be denied that this track record calls for “harsh scrutiny,” regardless of President Trump’s party affiliation.

Next, the writer lauds Trump for “fighting back” against the media and celebrates that he has “not hesitated to point out their flaws as journalists.” This is not because Trump is a “prideful man,” as the writer states, but instead because Trump has been consistently undermining public trust in media and journalism as the fourth estate of government, one of our country’s most cherished and sacred institutions. President Trump encourages Americans to turn away from media outlets that publish objective facts so that they will rely only on the “alternative facts” being promulgated by the White House. This extremely dangerous. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” Dismantling the institution of journalism, as President Trump seems to want to do, is the epitome of un-American.

President Trump attacks journalism and media organizations that he feels do not support him. But he’s also attacked an organization that generally celebrates him—the conservative Fox News—especially when he believed they were unfair to him. Trump tweeted that Fox News is “so biased it is disgusting,” and in another tweet that Fox is “a total joke.” By doing this, Trump is claiming that any media organization that challenges him is biased and untruthful. This, by extension, undermines all media organizations.

The writer of the editorial also mistakenly combines a criticism of journalism and his dissatisfaction with sketches on Saturday Night Live, a comedy satire show. The writer states that SNL has been “attacking” Trump “viciously.” Comedy, whether it’s stand-up or sketch, has always made fun of politicians, sometimes in disparaging ways. The freedom to do so is a crucial part of our American democracy. Even if the writer’s statement that Obama was never criticized so harshly on SNL is accurate, to encourage a comedy show to go easier on our president is to ignore the fundamental freedom of expression we enjoy in the United States.

To show that all mainstream media is biased and untrustworthy, the writer cites the example of Zeke Miller, a Time Magazine reporter who falsely tweeted that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. was removed from the Oval Office. I would remind the writer that correcting errors in publications is what journalists are supposed to do when information is inaccurate or inadequate, and that is exactly what Miller did within minutes of sending his tweet. The 1964 Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan affirms the First Amendment by protecting journalists when they make errors and subsequently correct these mistakes.

Finally, the writer’s suggestion that Breitbart and Right-Side Broadcasting are “gaining momentum” as suitable alternatives for sources like CNN and The New York Times is, like most stories published by Breitbart and Right-Side, blatantly false. Trump’s chief strategist himself, Steve Bannon, former chairman of Breitbart News, described the publication as a “platform for the alt-right” in an interview with the Investigative Fund. The entire concept of the alt-right is nothing more than a reformulated neo-nationalist movement, and this, not facts, is what Breitbart promotes. As for Right-Side Broadcasting, Business Insider reports that this one-man operation primarily streams full-length broadcasts of Trump’s speeches with little interpretation or questioning.

As the former editor of a journalistic publication, I wanted to draw attention to these major misconceptions in the opinions piece so that more attention might be paid to the fact that President Trump is attacking the media, not the other way around.

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