Ever since the beginning of US President Donald Trump’s term, there has been an uneasy equation between the White House and the major media houses like New York Times, CNN, and Washington Post etc. The interesting part is that President Trump has never been apologetic of his open war with these media houses and he has been vehemently criticising the reportage by these media outlets.
It must be mentioned that the White House recently barred several news houses from an off-camera press briefing and instead selected a bunch of reporters from select media outlets friendly towards Donald Trump to report it. Media houses which were denied access to the White House press briefing included BBC, CNN, BuzzFeed, New York Times and Politico among others. On the other hand publications like Washington Times, One America News Network and TV channels like NBC, Fox and CBS were allowed to cover the press briefing, clearly pointing out Trump’s preference of media outlets which do not report adversely about his government and his policies.
In response to this action by the Trump administration, the White House Correspondents Association President stated that the association was protesting strongly against this kind of an approach where only select media houses were allowed to cover the briefing.
Such actions by the Trump administration have raised question about the freedom of press in the country that champions itself as the ultimate example of free speech.
Speaking to exchange4media about the rationale behind President Trump’s harsh criticism of some of the major media networks, Chicago based prominent Indian-American Trump supporter and Republican Hindu Coalition President Shalabh Kumar said, “I think the American media is totally fake and out of touch with reality, especially the ‘opposition media’ like New York Times, CNN, MNNBC, Huffington Post, LAT and Washington Post etc, and the Americans are fed up with this media.”
Sandeep Amar, CEO, Indian Express Digital thinks that the US President needs to take the media criticism in a positive way. Speaking about it he said, "Throughout the election process and even after Trump's victory - media has been challenging him, on multiple things, including calling him "un-American". Trump in his usual style has been replying in a tough manner. Recently some of the big media have been kept out of his press briefings as well. I feel it's time that he becomes more like the President of United States and calm down about small things (picking fights with media on small issues) - and take some of the criticism positively. Media also needs to stop whining, and keep the focus on quality journalism."
“I think the hallmark of any democracy is inclusiveness: the ability to accept points of view that are different from yours, to give a genuine ear to criticism of your most personal ideas, and the ability to reconsider one’s own beliefs. The Fourth Estate needs to be given the freedom to exercise its right to question and criticise, and President Trump will be a true President only when he allows that,” added Jamal Shaikh, National Editor, Brunch and New Media Initiatives, Hindustan Times.
For many in the United States and across the world, President Trump is not the perfect example of a seasoned politician. Speaking about the need for the media houses to come out of the shadow of the politicians, well known Columnist and Social Activist, Devi Cherian, commented, “Until you don’t have the freedom to report what is wrong or right, how will you ever know whether your decisions are right or wrong. In any country the link between public and the government is the media and most of the leaders have used and misused the media. I think at the moment Trump doesn’t come across as a hardcore politician, and the good part is that media houses like CNN, NYT have been very bold by carrying stories which might affect their revenue. But I think it is very important for the media to come out of the shadow of the politicians and the sooner it happens, the better.”