One week ago, the American news media went to DEFCON 1, attack imminent.
A nuclear warhead crudely initialed MSM had just been launched from the cellphone of President Donald J. Trump. In a tweet, his weapon of choice, the commander in chief called the news media “the enemy of the American people.”
We in the news media have been called many things by many people over the past couple of centuries, and sometimes the admonishments have been well-deserved, if not downright self-inflicted. But we’re not all cut from the same cloth.
For instance, members of the newspaper staff whose daily efforts you’re reading right now watched last week’s press conference conducted by Sean Spicer, and our conclusions probably weren’t very mainstream. We thought the White House press corps, as a whole, was openly hostile — playing “gotcha” more than trying to garner information that would help Americans understand what’s happening in the highest offices in the land. There was a room full of experienced journalists seemingly all wearing one uniform, and a lone rookie opponent behind a podium wearing another. We found ourselves pulling for the little guy, who more than held his own.
But back to DEFCON 1.
The Washington Post, one of the two most distinguished perpetuators of FAKE NEWS in this great land of ours, per a certain president, was stunned by Trump’s condemnation. The Post said that term has “never before been uttered by the leader of the free world.”
Maybe we’d all better get used to it. A fairly common theory among denizens of the Fourth Estate is, President Trump will continue to wage war — or defend himself, depending on your perspective — on/from the news media “if only to distract his base from the disappointments that are sure to come,” writes David Remnick of The New Yorker. The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens puts it this way: “Ideologically, the president is trying to depose so-called mainstream media in favor of the media he likes — Breitbart News and the rest. Another way of making this point is to say that he’s trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism.”
But nobody puts this not-so-cold war in better perspective than Mike Wilson. Writes Wilson, editor of the Dallas Morning News:
“In my job I oversee about 250 enemies of the people. We have enemies of the people who make maps, cover high school baseball, send tweets about the Cowboys, assign book reviews, critique restaurants, track North Texas home prices and write profiles of tech entrepreneurs. One enemy of the people spends his days talking to grieving families and carefully crafting the stories of the dead. … We have enemies of the American people who cover the nation’s most powerful and important leader, bearing witness to everything he says. Enemies of the people understand the importance of choosing the right words because they know the damage the wrong words can do.”
Here’s to all of us striving to choose our words wisely.