Here in the United States, we are fortunate to have many individual rights our government cannot infringe upon. One of those rights that is especially important to all of us at the East Tennessean: The right to free press, but that right has been called into question. Trump isn’t the first president to disagree with the press, but now more than ever, it seems Trump’s campaign reignited public backlash against the press.
At it’s most basic form, the free press is simply the right of news organizations to report the news without being controlled or directly influenced by the government. This is incredibly important, as it means the government cannot control the news that the nation sees. To see an example where free press is not protected, one only has to look at any authoritarian government, such as Nazi Germany, or George Orwell’s famous novel, “1984.” The government’s interference of the freedom of speech, though, and press can slip into a dangerous reality where individualism is lost and those in power are untouchable.
Trump’s campaign against the free press goes beyond what a president should recognize, especially in regards to the First Amendment. In recent news, CNN reporter Jim Acosta had his hard pass for the White House revoked following an incident during a press conference at the White House. This came following a heated exchange between Acosta and Trump, when Trump called Acosta a “terrible person,” and a White House intern attempted to take Acosta’s microphone. He resisted, and these are the grounds for which the White House initially tried to justify his ban from the White House. CNN responded with a lawsuit against the White House.
The truly troubling part about this is these are not appropriate grounds for this ban at all. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders claimed that he “laid hands on a young woman,” when videos of the incident clearly show that any contact between him and the intern are purely incidental. Sanders later backpedaled on that statement, claiming instead that his behavior was inappropriate for White House decorum. CNN has always leaned hard left, so it is no secret that the news organization has done many things that the White House would certainly rather have them refrain from doing. However, having a news organization that disagrees with you is an aspect of democracy that we must retain, even if the president doesn’t like what’s being said.
The encouraging part of this story is the overwhelming response of support for Acosta in this particular situation. FOX News President Jay Wallace even said in a statement that “FOX News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential.”
If such an issue is important enough to unite both sides of the political spectrum, that is truly an incredible feat. No matter what side you agree with, it is incredibly important that both sides are allowed to speak their minds and report the news. A lack of free press means a lack of one of the most important aspects of our democracy: freedom of independent thought and opinion. If CNN’s lawsuit fails and the White House refuses to back down, we step that much closer to the end of American democracy.