Wednesday, March 15, 2017
The exposure of lies and the witnessing of truth are in the hands of the Fourth Estate. The press made Donald Trump president by covering candidate Trump as if he had credibility. During the campaign, there were days when even the NY Times front page was 95% Trump's sensationalism with one below the fold news item on the Clinton campaign. Major speeches by our first female presidential candidate were virtually unreported because they addressed serious issues facing the country, and were not scripts from the theater of the absurd.
Now is the time for the press to sober up. Rather than covering the sensational, the press must revert to its traditional role of searching for truth.
Foreshadowing the age of Trump, aggressive truth finding journalism, such as Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate expose′ and the more recent "Spotlight" investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic priests, fell largely out of fashion. The Fourth Estate succumbed to the lull, where they reported on and thereby promoted the low hanging fruit of the Trump outrageous.
Olivia Ward, Canadian journalist, this week traced the rise of Trump through the implicit rise in media's collaboration with the promotion of "alternative fact" reporting. Serious journalism gave way to entertainment. Propelled by social media, the press forgot their obligation to demand the truth, until the unthinkable happened with the Trump presidency.
In a recent speech, Ms. Ward traced the history of media decline and set out a map for the press to regain its credibility. This talk is more than worth the read. One of the charges Ms. Ward gives to journalists is to cover the protests, but in particular cover local resistance. If the resistance is not covered by the press, then the danger becomes that alternate facts become absolute truth.
When that happens, human rights will be irrelevant in the style of Putin.