Having an adversarial relationship with the Commander in Chief is nothing new for members of the press corps. Their obligation is to uncover the truth, no matter who it offends. Oftentimes their jobs put them in direct conflict with the top levels of government because let’s face it, power needs to be filtered for impurities. Constantly. The seats of power in this country may be democratic in name, but their desire to rule can blur the lines, which is where the power of the press comes in.
The press is a middleman to the masses, an arbiter of the documented evidence, their presentation is subjected to incredible scrutiny by all corners simply because it’s that important. It used to be that getting it right was the priority in the news business, and then came the big moneyed buy-in of news agencies and this was followed by the explosion of social media; where anyone with a laptop, or even a phone, could make the news. Before long, ratings dollars and breaking the news supplanted all other concerns.
This isn’t to say that the journalism business has effectively sold out. Quite simply, it’s important to remember that journalism has become a business, and as such the readers bear a responsibility to filter out the what’s what to a story. As end users, they must differentiate between the talking head news personalities that dominate the news and legit journalists who actually, yanno, cover it.
There is a vilification of the press going on these days, led by an administration that was built on the free press it received over the last sixteen months. Trump has long shown an allergic reaction to transparency, which is why he trashes all inquiries that don’t jibe with his master plan. This isn’t a liberal point of view, I’m just someone who respects the power of the press and understand the perils they assume each and every day.
Maybe it’s just coincidence that Election Day happened to fall on the 51st anniversary of the death of Dorothy Kilgallen. The renowned journalist for the New York Journal-American was one of the few voices to publicly challenge the Warren Commission findings in the Kennedy assassination. She was the only reporter to interview Jack Ruby. She chased, she sourced and she reported her findings; and in so doing she made enemies at the highest levels. Her life, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her untimely death are covered in the new book by Mark Shaw The Reporter Who Knew Too Much.
It’s a sad title, and an ominous reminder.