Dan Rather has gone viral yet again for putting into words the mix of disgust and fear we have all been feeling. Yesterday at his first press conference in 160 days president-elect Donald Trump refused to take a question from a CNN reporter, calling his broadcaster “fake news.” Trump was lashing out in response to a report CNN had made about the existence of allegations that Russians have sensitive personal information about Trump, including lurid details of sexual acts.
Trump’s refusal to engage with the press is unprecedented and raises big questions about the lengths he will go to in office to suppress negative coverage in the media. Rather perfectly expresses why yesterday’s press conference was so “chilling.” He points the finger back at Trump, who spread salacious fake news about President Obama for years in the “birther” conspiracy.
I’ve been thinking a lot more about yesterday’s press conference with President-elect Donald Trump – particularly the showdown with CNN‘s Jim Acosta. I think this article from the Columbia Journalism Review (shared below) makes a lot of important points
As a former White House correspondent, I know the feeling of the incredible imbalance at a press conference such as this. You are standing with your journalist peers and facing a man on a stage behind a podium with the Great Seal of the President of the United States and all power that entails. These dramatic events are where the American public sees the White House press corps at work. But they are often theater – kabuki dances where you as a reporter are searching for a headline to make news and the president is looking to impose his prerogative.
The reality is that most of the work of a White House correspondent, like the work of any good journalist, occurs outside of the public eye. There’s a lot about yesterday’s press conference that was chilling. The specter of the fuming President-elect railing against fake news, this from a man who had promoted for years the lie that President Barack Obama was not American and whose speeches on the campaign trail were often Briar patches of mendacity – was an irony verging on Shakespearean tragedy. But if Mr. Trump and his inner circle think that this type of authoritarian behavior will cow the press, I think they will find it will only embolden us.
I believe many Americans, especially those who work in government, in our national security apparatus, in the multiple cabinet departments, Democrats and Republicans, are deeply worried by much of what they are seeing. What this means to an enterprising reporter is sources, lots of potential sources to cultivate. This is a time where the potential for blockbuster stories is as rich. And news, like water, has a way of finding a crack and flowing forth for the world to see.
Rather’s words of hope and resilience are the inspiration that Americans need in these dark times. The American spirit fights for its values of free speech, free press, and holding elected officials to account. Whatever Trump tries to do to silence the truth, journalism and the American people will find a way.
Rather linked to this article as more food for thought.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.