Editorial: Reminder — The media is still working for the American people


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While President Donald Trump apparently has no qualms with labeling the media “the enemy of the American people,” it appears that the public aren’t entirely on board with the president’s sweeping epithet.

A Quinnipiac University Poll found Americans believe the media is more trustworthy than the president, at 52 percent to 37 percent, respectively. The poll also discovered the majority of Americans oppose Trump’s treatment of the media, at 61 to 35 percent and the majority believe that Trump is doing more to divide Americans than unite them, at 58 to 36 percent.

Not all findings from the Quinnipiac poll are promising. For instance, 78 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of whites without a college degree believe Trump over the news media, despite the Trump administration fabricating three terror attacks only this month. And Trump’s lies are not few and far between, with a Washington Post analysis finding the president had said something false or misleading every day during the first 33 days of his presidency.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted Feb. 16 to 21 and surveyed 1,323 nationwide voters by landline or cell phone. The margin of error is +/- 2.7 percent.

Though the news media aren’t infallible, we are regularly more consistent with the facts than the president, who tells the truth only four percent of the time, according to Politifact. And even if the news media make a mistake every now and then, this does not, by a long shot, qualify us as the “enemy of the American people.”

But since Trump won the nomination, it’s become increasingly clear that his administration is only interested in having a relationship with the media if that relationship is wholly beneficial to the administration’s efforts. This is a simply absurd expectation on their part, mostly because no past president has ever received such a luxury. Historically, the media has acted as an unofficial fourth branch of the government — a watchdog, in many ways — that aims to keep the other three branches in check.

Because of this, it’s acceptable and historically precedented for the media to have a critical relationship with the president; this may not be preferable to the president, but it gives the American people the answers they deserve. Former Obama adviser David Axelrod said as much in a tweet reacting to Trump’s “enemy” claim.

“Every president is irritated by the news media,” Axelrod tweeted. “No other president would have described the media as ‘the enemy of the people.’”

The media has received bipartisan support since Trump’s tweet, as well, notably from figures like Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, who criticized Trump on Saturday’s “Meet the Press,” saying “the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press.”

For those who remain skeptical of the media’s reporting of the facts, the media operates for all American people, not just those of a particular political party. This is in steep contrast to our president, who suggested during last week’s press conference that Republican representatives only represent Republicans, which is factually incorrect and a dangerous interpretation of representation.

Trump has probably irreparably burnt his bridge with the media — just yesterday The Washington Post changed their slogan to “Democracy dies in darkness,” no doubt a response to the events of the past weeks — but this doesn’t mean that the 37 percent of Americans who swear by Trump’s words need to follow in his footsteps.

As always, read news from multiple outlets, fact check everything from less-than-reputable sources and remember to not let partisan views color your judgement on important political issues. But most importantly know that the media is here for the American people. We only hope that they will continue to be there for us.

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