The Sunflower

Free press key to a free nation

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Free press key to a free nation

In the nearly two years of the Trump administration, a clear point of tension between the president and the media created the foundation for the widespread disdain for what is commonly called “fake news.” Mass outrage towards major news channels such as CNN and MSNBC led to the domino effect that is the distrust in America’s journalism.

After CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass was revoked following a verbal altercation at a press conference, tension further grew. In a statement made on November 26, Trump alluded to the possibility of a government-run global media network to rival CNN in its monopoly of “unfair” coverage of the United States. Maybe nothing more than a rash comment made by an irrational and uninformed president, but the concept of creating a government-run news outlet is dangerous to America’s foundation of democracy.

A free and unregulated press is essential to the proper functioning of democracy. The media acts as a check on the national government, providing the people with the news necessary to make decisions free of government partisanship or bias. Though networks with clear bias exist, ethical journalism is fundamental is the workings the press.

Outlets such as PBS, NPR, and The New York Times provide unbiased reporting of government happenings and other basic news throughout the nation. Additionally, CNN and other networks that do have a slight partisan lean are no less trustworthy, as their reporters are still independent of the government and seek information, rather than given information.

The concept of a government run and regulated network strays into dangerous territory and could threaten America’s democratic principles. In authoritarian nations like North Korea, government regulated media is commonplace, and the practice of freedom of speech and press is prohibited. Though an extreme example, the only benefit to a government-run media would be to establish and push the government’s own agenda.

With no bipartisan mediator, the people are only being distributed news that the government wants them to hear, creating an ill-informed and delusional electorate. With this, America is put at risk of becoming the authoritarian enemy we claim to hate. Blind trust in government and the information they choose to provide is what involves the United States in wars, both domestically and foreign, and want keeps the people ignorant.

Though distrust in both American media and government predates the Trump administration, his growing hatred of “fake news” is only perpetuating distrust in the free press. America’s founders understood the importance of an unbiased media when writing the Constitution in 1787 that, as a fundamental piece of modern democracy, must be protected at all costs.

It is the public’s responsibility to make sure the media they consume is reliable and factual, and the creation of a government facilitated network will inherently decrease public accountability, therefore creating a blind trust in government that is only intended to keep the people ignorant and compliant.

The government must be held accountable at every functioning level, and this can only be done by giving the power of the press to the people.

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