Witness Trump’s most recent treachery. On Nov. 7, CNN’s Jim Acosta opined when he should have questioned at a “news conference” in the White House. Nothing unusual there: conflating opinion with the news is journalism’s favorite tactic. And so Acosta “challenge[d]” Trump for calling the “caravan” migrating toward the U.S. from Central America an “invasion.” He also implied that Trump lies: “As you know, Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion…”
Now, I’m no Trumpette. I disagree with The Donald on many issues, including this one, though for reasons vastly different from communist Acosta’s. Yet I positively cheered Trump’s apt response: “I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion…”
Whoa! When has any elected official publicly called the media on its agitprop?
Acosta nonetheless continued badgering Trump. And the president shot back, “…I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN. And if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.”
Trump, 2; Media, 0.
Naturally, the president’s flouting of their pact outraged reporters who believe that they and the administration — whether Democrat or Republican — play on the same team for the same goal: to increase the State’s power.
The White House also revoked Acosta’s credentials, which ends his privilege of waltzing into the place as a reporter. No wonder CNN came out swinging. It published a statement as deceitful as Acosta claimed Trump is: “Acosta … drew the ire of President Donald Trump … by asking multiple questions …” Wrong. It was Acosta’s rudely injecting his own conclusions, not his “multiple questions,” that angered the president. Meanwhile, CNN is suing the White House to reinstate those credentials, as we would expect. The Left turns to government at every little glitch.
Even more predictably, CNN hyperventilates that Trump’s reactions “are not only dangerous, they are disturbingly un-American” — a refrain the rest of the mainstream echoes. Balderdash. Another of CNN’s allegations not only surpasses that malarkey, it rewrites reality: “While President Trump has made it clear he does not respect a free press, he has a sworn obligation to protect it … A free press is vital to democracy, and we stand behind Jim Acosta and his fellow journalists everywhere.”
As everyone but the media’s morons realize, America is a republic, not a democracy. Either way, though, the country does not enjoy a “free press.” Nor has it for over a century.
How could anyone mistake American broadcasters for free agents when the Feds license every TV and radio station? Seeking permission to operate from the FCC puts these companies under a heavy bureaucratic thumb; the agency threatens to and does yank licenses for a variety of offenses.
Even worse is the “White House Press Secretary.” This office evolved out of convenienceand government’s tendency to metastasize, though it began unofficially enough with one of Abraham Lincoln’s assistants. John Nicolay had edited a newspaper before his stint in DC. Reporters covering the War of Northern Aggression found him a sympathetic and knowledgeable source — and one more accessible than the president — for verifying information.
Not until the late 1860s did Congress earmark some of the loot from taxpayers to staff the White House. That inaugurated the usual game: a single secretary had metastasized to 50 by the 1920s.
Several of those employees dedicated themselves to handling the press. Reporters didn’t object: their jobs became easier since they no longer had to chase stories. Here was a guy smack in the middle of the White House telling them all they needed to know.
But with that convenience came a tacit censorship. Administrations now doled out not only the facts they wanted publicized but also the “correct” interpretation. Woodrow Wilson was the first president to exploit that potential to wage a deeply unpopular war. Ever since, politicians and the press have collaborated to publish the stories they choose with the spin they prefer. They openly “cooperate,” nor does either side see anything sinister in doing so.Indeed, institutes “for public policy” laud and urge such “cooperation.”
“Credentialing” enhances this partnership. Like most of government’s malfeasance, the excuse is security: we can’t have people wandering The People’s House during press conferences, can we? Practical considerations figure into it, too, given the limits on how many bodies can fit in a briefing room or ask a question. Ergo, only “journalists” from “recognized” outlets who have previously applied for permission gain admittance to the White House.
What breathtaking control our rulers exercise! Credentialing ensures that no correspondent harbors independent views, as The New York Times‘ outrage over a conservative blog’s clearance proved; all “credentialed” personnel advance the State’s agenda rather than liberty’s. Then, too, you’ll notice that CNN’s lawsuit doesn’t aim at credentialing itself; rather, it quibbles with a single decision. Soooo typical of totalitarians, who never object to government’s compulsion, however destructive or unconstitutional; they protest only when they disagree with the results.
Yet bossing the media is — or should be — as “disturbingly un-American” as it gets. If CNN were truly chagrined at federal supervision of its industry, it would sue to end credentialing. But it doesn’t. Credentialing serves not only politicians’ but Big Media’s purposes, too, by cutting competition: fewer journalists vying to query officials at press conferences, fewer outlets able to sell audiences “official” news from those conferences.
Thomas Jefferson famously opined, “…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” But only after banning it from the former’s bed.