Freedom of press declines

Columnist Kendall Grove

Columnist Kendall Grove

Since President Donald Trump has been in office, there has already been many changes. Most leave the opposing party at a loss, but one of his most shocking contributions to office has been his reduction of the freedom of the press.
Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that is dedicated to expanding freedom and democracy worldwide, released a study showing the declining freedom of press rates in the U.S.  
Based on the year’s journalist experience economically, legally and politically, Freedom House releases annual reports showing the discrepancies between past and present freedom. According to the 2017 report, it can be estimated that freedom of press is down lower than it has been in the past 13 years.
Aside from anti-freedom ideology impacting the citizens, Trump’s hostility toward the press has begun affecting the way government agencies communicate through media.
In early January, Trump issued a media blackout for the Environmental Protection Agency. This blackout stopped the staff from awarding new contracts or grants. It is said that Trumps order banned all news releases, blog updates and social media activity.
The Freedom House Report said that, “No U.S. president in recent memory has shown greater contempt for the press than Trump in his first months in office.” It also suggested that, “Trump’s attacks mirror initial actions in other countries where media freedom subsequently suffered far more drastic restrictions and interference.”
“Fake news” has also been a concern with Trump to the extent that he has condemned journalists as “the enemy of the people.” Due to Trump’s ideology around media, he has barred multiple news sources from his daily press briefing on occasion.
This kind of secretive behavior in both Trump’s campaign as well as presidency should be a concern to the public. By excluding journalists, Trump is eliminating watchdogs and leaving the public blind to his motives.
A New York Times article explained Trump’s restriction by saying, “At a time when journalists around the world are being killed and imprisoned in record numbers, Trump’s relentless tirades against “fake news” are emboldening autocrats and depriving threatened and endangered journalists of one of their strongest supporters — the United States government.”
The same New York Times article also recalls a moment last December when Trump was asked to comment on “the systematic killings of journalists in Russia” by MSNBC where he “shrugged” and said, “Well I think our country does plenty of killing, too.”
If this treatment of the press does not alarm you, you may want to think again about where you get your news from.
Pew Research Center released a study explaining that 77 percent of the U.S. gets its news from the television and print newspaper. Without credible sources to convey information about the government and the action that are being taken, the U.S. would slowly become closer and closer to countries, such as North Korea, who limit the freedom of press and speech.
Susan Seager, who is a First Amendment attorney and LawNewz columnist said, “This is not the same as when the government selects one television network camera to serve as a pool camera... Here, the president has publicly criticized the New York Times and CNN. So it seems pretty clear this is punishment for the content published by those news outlets, and President Trump and Sean Spicer cannot reasonably claim that this ban was content-neutral,” said Seager.
Trump can’t be allowed censor news media in any way, shape or form, especially since most of his censorship is in retaliation of the negative stories about him.
If he is only allowing certain news services to cover his presidency, it will lead to a heavy bias in news as well as media corruption.