First of all, Happy Birthday America!
Let’s talk about what this day represents. It represents the true American values – liberty and justice for all, values that are under attack right now. America is a country based on immigrants, yet refugees fleeing war zones are banned. The First Amendment, arguably one of the most important, given that it is used to hold public servants accountable, is under attack by the man in the highest office of the land, the President of the United States. To talk about the attack on the media, we have to talk about the spread of the term “fake news”, which started to sail once Trump took office.
I’m really worried about how fast this term has spread, in the course of one year, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign and then subsequent election and inauguration. Fake news is supposed to be news that is false, misleading or untrue; it is not news that is not favorable for a person you like or does not conform to your political party, narrative or beliefs. Propaganda like the articles that were being spread about Hillary Clinton to cause harm to her chances- that’s fake news.
The political environment has become so toxic as a result of this election. Partisanship is at an utmost high. Most people cannot even debate politics with a person of the opposing party politely and without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Supporters of the President are able to dismiss any negative news (and there’s a lot) as fake, and thus justify their support for him. They want to remain in that bubble, because if that bubble’s popped they’d lose the one person they had pinned their hopes too. And they’d have to admit that they made the wrong choice in the presidential election; that is not an easy thing for any person to do.
I blame Donald Trump. He would have known, prior to the election, that he was not competent enough to serve as President of the United States. However, he wanted to stroke his ego, so he ran. And the results are before us, five months in, and they are not good. With the continued attacks on the press, including the reprehensible tweets that even members of his own party criticized him for, he continues to undermine a critical part of any democracy. The press is supposed to hold the government accountable. This administration is trying to erase all credibility in the eyes of the base, so that they believe everything is going fine and well, and thus never suffer for the consequences of their actions.
And that’s extremely dangerous, considering the amount of power Donald Trump holds. How many lives he can impact with one decision, like the healthcare bill that he’s trying to pass through Mitch McConnell. Trump supporters will believe that the bill is not that bad, because they don’t believe the mainstream media. And until his base doesn’t turn on him, Trump won’t suffer the consequences from the Republican held consequences.
This is why “fake news” is so dangerous. And we have to educate people about its true meaning, about how to vet sources, and to gather firsthand information for themselves, by reading House & Senate bills and listening to speeches.