I can imagine President Donald Trump’s bug eyes bulging out of his orange peel head as he received the news, immediately followed by some kind of outburst.
A senior official of Trump’s administration anonymously published an Op-Ed through the New York Times Sept. 5. The piece asserts that “ ... many of the senior officials in [Trump’s] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
The author wrote that his or her involvement in “the resistance” does not stem from liberal ideology. Rather, he or she is in support of the administration and believes “ … that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.”
In other words, the writer claims to be in favor of democratic institutions but knows firsthand that Trump’s leadership style is “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”
The point of the article is to expose that perspective from a trustworthy source. Anonymity was granted in order to preserve the author’s position in the White House.
But in the wake of the publication, President Trump called the ghostwriter “gutless.” He shamed “the failing New York Times” and other media outlets, as he has done so many times, on principle of being news organizations. In addressing the Op-Ed, he assured his crowd that the media would have nothing to write about in the coming years.
Let me tell you that he couldn’t be more wrong.
As long as there are people alive and people in power on this planet, things worth knowing are going to happen. Stories are going to be told. The truth will be sought by virtue of the First Amendment. And though allowing anonymous sources to be published isn’t ideal, media conglomerates hold the right to put out what they believe adds perspective to the ongoing conversation about Trump’s administration, even if it means doing so anonymously to protect the source.
Having taken courses in journalism at Elon University and reported journalistically, I have learned that there are problems with the media, but the media is not always the problem.
Media literacy is the problem. Public distrust and disengagement are the problem. A growing lack of compassion is the problem.
The journalist’s job is to talk to higher-up officials in the know, examine the facts, seek other sources, assess public opinion, discern truth, organize the information and present it after vetting it all. There are systems in place and trusted people at every news organization to edit the material and verify the message is true. Journalism at its core is the art and science of honesty.
Lies are spread when everyone has access to publish on the internet. They’re spread further when the big man in office tells us not trust the content or process of reputed news organizations that work to reveal the truth.
But it falls on us as a society to support the mission. Check your sources of information. Ask people what they think. Pay attention to the reputable sources, even and especially when Trump is saying they’re wrong without offering up his own version of truth.