Notre Dame ethics professor Joseph Holt wrote in a CNN op-ed that the media (by which I assume he means the mainstream media or MSM) serves a role as protector of democracy. He wrote this in reaction to President Trump’s assertion that the media is “the enemy of the people” and to press spokesperson Sarah Sanders' refusal to contradict her boss and acknowledge to CNN’s Jim Acosta that this was not the case.
In his op-ed Professor Holt stated:
“We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason -- especially when the stakes have never been higher.”
Fox News anchors and few other non-MSM outlets countered with hyperbolic outrage at the thought of comparing our dear soldiers, sailors and marines with the press corps that president Trump called “horrible, horrendous people”.
Professor Holt went on to say that, “Far from being the enemy of the people, the press at its best is like a guardian angel that caringly and capably protects us from harm.” What crazy hyperbole from the liberal side! If your son or daughter attends Notre Dame University you better make sure they stay away from any class this professor teaches.
Professor Holt then had the temerity to quote Thomas Jefferson’s support for the free press. Is he serious? Is he referring to the same Thomas Jefferson that paid Philip Freneau to publish the National Gazette in order to attack political opponents like Alexander Hamilton and to accuse George Washington of monarchical ambitions.
A free press is an essential institution of a free republic, but that does not make the press angels or caring protectors. The notion that the media just reports but does not slant the news (except on the editorial pages) is nonsense. The primary intent of the National Gazette and its principal competitor the Gazette of the United States was to convince readers about the political agenda of the publishers. They bent facts, made up facts and tried to dig up any scurrilous dirt they could find on their political opponents.
A free press does not imply that all press outlets are neutral and all can be relied on to provide the necessary information to make political decisions that affect our lives. That is not why the New York Times recently hired to their editorial board Sarah Jeong who has posted vicious anti-white and anti-police tweets on her Twitter feed. The NYT hired her to promote her political agenda that, presumably, closely aligns with that of the NYT.
What a “free press” means is that various publications and news outlets have the freedom to present their political positions for the consideration of the public without fear of suppression by the government. The people can then choose which ones to follow. The press may not be the enemy of the people but that does not make them the friend of the people or their guardian angel either.
The thing that you, the people, need to take into consideration when reading, hearing or watching news presentations is that they represent the (conscious and subconscious) political bent of the authors and the editorial board. The second thing that you need to know is that the mainstream media is overwhelmingly liberal. Only seven percent of journalists identify as Republicans according to Politico.
The truth is that the mainstream media has been captured by the left. They use pejorative adjectives when reporting conservative policies and complimentary adjectives when reporting liberal policies. The MSM has been so completely captured by the left that these journalists don’t even realize that their political positions are not centrist. The few right-of-center outlets do the same for the policies they support but they are in the minority. A far smaller minority than in the general population.
So “Choose wisely, Grasshopper (from the 1970s TV show Kung Fu). You need to be careful and double-check the assertions made by your preferred news outlet. You need also to check yourself that you are not in a feedback loop that supports your own preconceived notions.
So while the press may not be the “enemy of the people”, they are indeed the enemy of President Trump. That tells us a lot about the media, but also about President Trump who might be conflating “the people” with his own persona.