Trump, Fake News and the Media

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*This article was written several months prior to it’s publication online.  Some of the information presented may now be outdated.

We are now less than a year away from the 2020 US Presidential Election.  For the past 4 years – and even before his election – President Trump has fought a constant battle with the media over their treatment of him both as President and Republican Candidate. His war of words has consistently fueled the flames of the accusations of ‘Fake News’.  The President is convinced that the press are out to get him.

To explore this further, we must begin with the President’s inauguration.  After critics pointed out that the numbers attending the event were much less than that of his predecessor Barack Obama, the Trump administration sent out new press secretary Sean Spicer to prove (or, in this instance, say) otherwise.  In his first White House press briefing, Spicer was adamant that the crowd who had attended the inauguration was ‘the largest to ever witness an inauguration, period.’  Spicer would then be backed up by Trump’s aide Kellyanne Conway who, when pressed on the issue by NBC’s Chuck Todd, stated that Spicer was not lying but instead used ‘alternative facts‘.

This phrase was branded Orwellian, a clear sign of the government looking to control and peddle an extremely dangerous narrative.  Indeed Conway was confronted by Todd, who said that ‘alternative facts are just falsehoods‘, created to mislead the public.  Despite Conway later justifying her meaning as ‘alternative information’, it was clear that Trump’s main adversary would be the mainstream media, as they would not shy away from holding the President to account.

The war, that has failed to come to any sort of conclusion, intensified perversely with the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian Government.  News outlets such as CNN and the New York Times, branded ‘enem[ies]of the people’ by President Trump, were adamant of the President’s guilt and eagerly anticipated the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.  The report found no collusion, allowing Mr Trump to declare himself ‘vindicated’.  CNN’s Jim Acosta, in questioning the President’s links to Russia, was branded ‘The Fake News Guy’ by the President’s aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and even saw his press pass revoked during a clash with the President during a press conference.  This was later overturned, but did nothing to alleviate the tensions surrounding Mr Trump’s Fake News frenzy.

Recently, the impeachment process against the President has brought about a new wave of allegations of Fake News against both the Media and Democrats.  The accusations that the President pressured his Ukranian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating the corruption of Hunter Biden, the son of Democrat and ex Vice-President Joe Biden, have once again been portrayed as nothing other than a complete falsehood by the President.  He declared on Twitter that the Fake News accusations against him ‘never ends’.   The Republican-controlled Senate, who at the time of writing look set to easily acquit the President, is his main ally as he fights on two fronts to legitimise his presidency.  However, with CNN reporting 4th February 2020 that the President’s approval rating is edging towards 50% for the first time since his 2017 inauguration, it appears that he is not only winning his war against the media, but also is looking more likely to emerge victorious as he looks to extend his stay in the White House for another 4 years.

 

 

 

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MA History Student

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