The press has been following the same kind of script for a long time with press conferences, press secretaries, news releases and so forth, where information is spoon fed to them so they will report what is stated or spoken. Trump, however is breaking the old mold, and in doing so he is doing the press a favor. Certainly, there has always been investigative reporting, which is far more popular than the everyday dull reporting. Thanks to Mr. Trump, most reporting, from now on, will be of the investigative genre.
I’ve never been fortunate enough, or talented enough, to be a Washington or White House correspondent, few are. Nevertheless, I have covered my share of politicians, elections, sports figures, the courts and so on. I learned much in doing so, but I learned mostly what they allowed, or wanted me to learn. Sure, you can always dig something up that’s not being handed to you, but it’s more difficult to find the time when the people you’re covering have you running in circles trying to forward their ideas, their agendas, their meetings, conferences and so on.
Being a news reporter becomes boring if you always follow the script and try not to upset anyone. I enjoyed not following the script, and though it cost me a job once, and the consternation of many editors and publishers, I found it to be exciting. I always felt the truth was worth any price I had to pay for it. Most all journalists feel that way, but most are smart enough to cover their asses and remain in the good grace of the people they are working for, even if it means watering down a story down a bit, or not printing a story at all – wait for more information – information that is slow to materialize, if it ever materializes at all.
So, now we have Donald Trump, who as a politician, is unlike anyone we have seen in our lifetime. He’s the oddest duck in the pond. Some worry freedom of the press will suffer under a Trump presidency, but the opposite is more likely. The press will thrive under Trump because he’s released them of their daily script, and editors and publishers won’t be so concerned about rubbing advertisers the wrong way when most Americans are actually seeking the truth. The Truth they dig up from this point on will delight advertisers, which in turn makes the publishers happy. The press is more popular than it’s been in a long time. Every time Trump tweets and insult at the press, the press digs in.
Trump doesn’t like the press unless they are saying flattering things about him, and given the fact there is little about him that is flattering, he’s going to be doing a lot of rejecting. He will hold few press conferences, skip intelligence briefings and go about his business of using Twitter as his main source of communication. The nice thing about Twitter is, it doesn’t stand in front of you with pen and paper and a voice recorder; Twitter is passive.
Trump has called out the Washington Post, the New York Post, New York Times, CNN, Vanity Fair, The Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, Time Magazine and others. He’s called them on the carpet only to find they won’t bend to his wishes because they can still get all the coverage they need without him personally. His disdain for the press is legendary, his remarks are sometimes comical and expected. The news media is fake, their total losers, inaccurate, a total joke, third rate and they’re dummies, Trump tweeted.
The fact of the matter is, Trump couldn’t be more inaccurate or third rate himself, but he’s giving the press an opportunity they haven’t had in a long time, a lifetime, in fact. His unorthodox behavior sets the press free to seek other avenues of coverage, and more importantly, they are becoming increasingly cynical, not only of trump himself, but about the entire political system.
The press would be better served if Trump never held another press conference, or even better, if he held press conferences that the press refused to attend. The press will start kicking more tires and looking under rocks for those well-hidden clues that lead to stories no one in Washington would want to come out. They would gather new sources who would be more than happy to fill in the gaps for the 24-hour news cycle.
News reporting is a cut-throat business, and news outlets, whether print, radio or television have always been at odds with one another over the attempt to beat the other guy so they can win the prize of the day. – the breaking story. Donald Trump has given the press a great opportunity, the opportunity to be proponents instead of opponents. Tell us we cannot and we will. Tell us a lie and we will call you out on it and find the truth. Thanks to Mr. Trump, the press will become more powerful than ever before.
As Walter Cronkite once said, “freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”