The early days of this week delivered a slew of journalistic controversies, provoking a renewal of the White House’s combative and tired relationship with the United States press corps.
The Editorial Board believes the behavior of the White House compromises our democracy by placing undue stress on our nation’s press corps, hindering them from being able to effectively and confidently do their jobs.
President Donald Trump and members of his administration issued a series of inflammatory remarks, Twitter tirades and childlike insults that continue to weaken our system of government and tarnish our nation’s reputation abroad.
Sparks ignited Saturday when CNN was forced to retract a news story that claimed the Senate was investigating a meeting between Anthony Scaramucci, a member of Trump’s transition team, and an executive of a Russian investment fund.
When the story proved to be untrue, CNN apologized to Scaramucci, erased all links related to the piece and accepted the resignations of three reporters.
Resignations, it should be noted, are usually reserved for acts of plagiarism, according to the Washington Post.
Trump interpreted the event as a personal victory, lashing out at several major news networks—except for Fox—on Twitter this past Tuesday.
“So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!” the President tweeted.
Concerning Russia, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker has compiled a timeline of every instance Trump called Russia stories hoaxes and found the president usually “contradicted his own past statements or statements from members of his administration.”
The fire continued burning Tuesday during a press briefing put on by Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who promoted her own bit of “fake news.”
“There’s a video circulating now—whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know—but I would encourage everyone in this room and, frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it,” Sanders remarked.
The video Sanders referenced, which claims to reveal a CNN producer admitting that all of the Russia stories are “fake,” was published by a man who has been repeatedly accused of journalistic malpractice and deceptively editing his videos, according to the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, the White House has begun barring video and audio recordings of its briefings several times each week and the press secretaries are addressing fewer questions at each, according to the New York Times.
And in other relevant—albeit less dramatic—news, Time Magazine has asked Trump to remove fake covers of its publication featuring the President’s image, which are displayed at some of his golf clubs, according to the Guardian.
In other words, the Donald Trump administration has no business being the arbiter of truth or integrity.
And this reflects on our reputation abroad.
Pew Research published a survey of 37 countries this week, which found that 74 percent of respondents have “no confidence” in our president.
Seventy-five percent view Trump has “arrogant,” while only twenty-six percent think of him as “well-qualified to be president.”
And more people “dislike American ideas about democracy” than those who approve of them.
It is imperative that we maintain an appropriate, informative and respectful relationship between our government and our press, regardless of how convenient the facts may be for either.
Most importantly, it is incumbent upon both to be honest. When networks, such as CNN, recognize their mistakes, they apologize.
But we’ve yet to witness the same courtesy from the Trump administration.