Journalists deserve to ask Trump tough questions

Eduardo Alvarez/ Assistant Opinion Director

As if your mental health wasn’t crippled enough by the Midterm elections, now we have this to talk about.

In a press conference offered by President Trump, CNN’s Jim Acosta stood up and began to ask questions. 

Even as Trump tried to brush him off, saying “I think you should let me run the country” with characteristic aloofness, Acosta persisted until the president called him a “rude and terrible person.”

Afterwards, Acosta was banned from the White House, as well as accused of “placing his hands” on a young female White House intern.

Trump attacks the press. We’ve known this since day one. His political success came from having a strong base to which he panders with consistent – and at this point predictable – rhetoric. 

One of the evil beasts he swore to defeat with his flaming orange sword was the press: “the enemy of the American people.”

CNN being the most representative channel of the type of media Trump antagonizes.

None of this should surprise us; nor should it bind us into conformity. Persistence is as inherent in a free press as is irreverence in Trump as a politician.

Which is why the president’s behavior is unacceptable.

In a vacuum, both behaviors may be considered rude. In a dinner party or lecture, anyone who insults their audience is blameworthy, as is anyone who refuses to sit down after their turn has elapsed.

But a White House press conference is not a vacuum.

The White House is the people’s house. Trump is simply renting it. His job description is to preside over the nation, which means that he has a duty to be patient; a duty which outweighs Acosta’s call as a journalist to soften the sort of tenacity a free press ought to exercise. 

And what I just described pertains to a normal presidency. In terms of the Trump administration, whose migrant caravans and Russian entanglements have weakened the people’s confidence in their government: the press’ job of pressing is doubly important.

So that kicking Acosta out for doing his job well is a jab at government accountability.

What if Trump decides to bar all unfriendly press from the White House, like the Cuban dictator Diaz-Canel did when he came to New York during the UN General Assembly meeting?

The only way to stop that from happening is to react adamantly at the first sign of erosion. The relationship between the media and the government must be what it has always been: the media freely praises or criticizes, and the government toes the line.

Otherwise, we may end up having a state media benevolent towards whoever happens to live in the White House at any given time. Once big and bad government gets an inch, there’s no telling when it’ll stop.

Acosta was right, Trump was wrong. I support the press, you should too.

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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