I have to admit; one of my life’s guilty pleasures is a binging-watching clips from late night TV. From SNL skits to “Carpool Karaoke”, these hilarious snippets are endlessly entertaining. Being a self-proclaimed political junkie, lately I have found myself spending even more time scrolling through YouTube to see what Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon can cook up each week, (see, the hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah” on SNL *cue tears* or the laugh out loud Jimmy Fallon impersonating Trump at a press conference). In the midst of the hilarity, I eventually became equally addicted to refreshing @realDonalTrump’s Twitter feed to see his reactions.
The President’s relationship with the media, has been, well let’s just calls it pretty unique. Since he descended from that escalator in Trump Tower in the summer of 2016, Trump has always had a love/hate relationship with the media. “Alternative facts” have transformed into “fake news” and candidate/President Trump has never shied away from calling out the media, or sharing his sources. Fox News, Breitbart, and even InfoWars are commonly dropped sources the Trump shows affection to. Simultaneously, he has no problem calling out other media outlets, most recently CNN, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal for reporting “fake news” related to the most recent cabinet nominations, skiffs in U.S relations with Russia, or the most recent topic on how Trump and his team are running the West Wing. In Trump’s most recent Press Conference he went on the defensive during the question and answer portion. He pivoted (sorry bad word choice) around tough questions and was outright abrasive towards reporters (see, this convo he had with a reporter asking him about his relationship with the CBC).
While Trump’s non-PC style is nothing new to reporters, or citizens who are not in the media there is something troubling about the attack dog attitude he has taken to the media, and visa-a-versa. In a November article, a WSJ columnist addresses Trump’s on-again/off-again relationship with the First Amendment. While the article’s main focus is on Trump’s earlier comments regarding his distaste for flag burning (a protected form of speech under the first amendment… a decision that our dear friend, Antonin Scalia supported).
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“ ‘If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment,’ Justice William Brennan wrote in response to the decision to strike down the 1989 federal law, ‘it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.’
Trump doesn’t seem to adhere to this idea. He has railed against the oppositional media repeatedly, suggesting at one point that he might “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue the media. He disparaged protests earlier this month as being incited by the press and being illegitimate because the protesters were paid (a claim for which there’s no evidence)….
When Trump finds free expression offensive or disagreeable, he seeks to curtail it and, in some cases, impose harsh penalties.”
I have to wonder if Trump’s tweets negatively geared towards media outlets can be applied exactly as Brennan described the first amendment. Because he disagrees with some news (late night or fact-based reporting) outlets covering him and his team in the White House, will he react abruptly? Will he consider legal action, or perhaps another controversial executive order to manage his media coverage? Now, I don’t want to get into prophesizing, but it certainly seems like anything is possible with Donald Trump in the White House.
In the spirit of late night TV, I totally recommend checking out this segment from John Oliver – fair warning: it is a totally biased source and contains some inappropriate content – but is nevertheless entertaining. A great way I procrastinate is by scrolling through Politico’s Playback – I highly recommend it.