President Donald Trump recently held a restricted press briefing which excluded CNN, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Buzzfeed and Politico. News outlets treat this as an act of war against the first amendment, claiming that this marks the first time in American history that a president has impeded on the people’s right to free speech. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.
In fact, the Obama administration did something similar in 2008. During his campaign for president, Obama forced reporters from conservative newspapers to leave his campaign plane. There wasn’t quite as much attention paid when this happened. The difference here is it is now a Republican president and, thus, automatically the offense is deemed greater.
It’s no secret that our news media tends to skew to the more liberal side of politics. It is hypocrital the democrats feel the need to criticize the Trump administration for the same thing Obama not so long ago. This only indicates that certain people are above reproach. This should never be the case. Any leader elected by the people to govern the nation should be susceptible to the scrutiny of the investigative intellect of our news reporters.
Regardless of which side is responsible for starting this pattern in the first place, it’s a slippery slope to block portions of the first amendment altogether. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right and, some would say, the cornerstone of our Constitution. Stifling it by specifically choosing which news media covers White House briefings is more than just disdainful, it’s intolerable.
Any media outlet should be able to have access to information as vital to the nation as would be presented at the White House. What does this speak to but selectivity of those who would only further the President’s agenda or at the very least not hinder it?
It’s the reporters who don’t share the president’s point of view who ask the hard questions. The questions that delve deep into an issue and extract the truth of the matter. Could it be that our national leaders are threatened by the power of the media and the opinion of the people? To answer rather bluntly, they ought to be.
As spoken by Abraham Lincoln, we have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Infringing on our Constitutional rights is tantamount to betrayal of the people’s trust. Faith in the Constitution, faith in the President, faith in freedom of speech — these are all at stake when the people we put in power take advantage of their position to further their own agenda. Advocates for justice across the nation shout out for justice without fear of reprimand only because of the strength and power invested in the first amendment.
There’s no doubt that it was a mistake to allow any kind of media ban in the first place, but, presently, the importance should be placed on stopping this kind of behavior. No president should be able to ban any media from a briefing for the mere fact that they don’t like the way that media presents their message or because they ask questions the president might not want to answer.
The prevailing power of the first amendment should be given priority over the nuances of party politics. Policies like this not only threaten our Constitutional rights, but also the power of capitalism and transparency within the White House.
Elizabeth Fequiere is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]