Trump’s war on the media

 

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Image courtesy of “Talking Points Memo”

 

The First Amendment has been endangered within the first week of President Trump’s inauguration. The press is the only institution protected by the First Amendment, for there can be no laws made “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The press inherited the role of the fourth branch of government, with the intention of keeping government officials honest by reporting on what they do.

People have misused the First Amendment by publishing what is known as “fake news.” Fake news has become a prevailing enigma in modern society, for the internet provides more channels for citizen journalists to publish news stories, regardless if they are supported by facts. The popularity of fake news can also be attributed to confirmation bias, which refers to people’s propensity to accept or reject information based on their inherent biases. Nevertheless, fake news can be spread more efficiently with the increased interconnectedness of the internet.

President Donald J. Trump has taken advantage of this enigma by rejecting journalists’ reports in favor for his own interpretation of the facts. According to the New York Times, Trump declared, “I have a running war with the media. They are the most dishonest human beings on earth” during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency on January 21st.

This comment was in response to a viral picture comparing Trump’s 2017 inauguration to Obama’s 2009 inauguration. The picture shows that Obama’s inauguration drew a significantly larger crowd than Trump’s did. Trump spent his first day of office disputing his inauguration crowd size.

At the CIA Headquarters, he spoke about his own interpretation of the facts: “I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I say, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, the field was — it looked like a million, million and a half people”.

Later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed that these photos “were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall”, according to the Washington Post.

The next day, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway had an interview with Chuck Todd about Trump’s and Spicer’s rejection of the photos. When asked why Trump told Spicer to “utter a falsehood” his first time on the podium as press secretary, Conway replied, “What–You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that”.

At a Texas rally on Friday, Trump vowed to “open up libel laws, so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money” according to a video posted by Politico. “We can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they are protected”, he continued. “You see, with me they’re not protected.”

According to the New York Times, the First Amendment has weakened its protection of the press. The press relies on “the institutional media’s relative financial strength; the good will of the public; a mutually dependent relationship with government officials; the support of sympathetic judges; and political norms and traditions.” What used to bolster the press in its mission to inform the public has faltered: news organizations have been running out of money, the public has lost trust in the media, the Supreme Court has declined major press cases, and Trump’s new administration has broken the relationship between government and journalists.

 

Sources to fact-check news articles:

http://www.factcheck.org/

http://www.snopes.com/

http://www.politifact.com/

 

Article by Katerina Muraviyova, COM’19

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Spotted: France’s far-right leader visits Trump Tower

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Marine Le Pen at the Trump Bar – by Sam Levine

-Article by Alice Ferré

On Thursday, Marine Le Pen, French National Front (NF) leader, was spotted at the Trump Tower, causing rumors to swirl of a possible meeting with Mr. Trump, which a plausible supposition owing to ideological similarities between the two parties.

However, Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied the existence of any scheduled meetings with the French politician. He added that the Trump bar, where Le Pen was seen having coffee, is a public space and thus accessible to everyone.

Marine Le Pen, nevertheless, met with Trump’s longtime friend and neighbor, George Lombardi – a man with many connections with the European far-right elite, who introduces himself as a political analyst. He formerly represented the Italian Northern League, is now close to the Tea Party and leads the U.S. branch of the French National Front. Mr. Lombardi also lives three stories below Trump.

Not only Trump’s neighbor, Lombardi is also his auto-proclaimed, non-official advisor and fervent supporter; an interesting middle-man and asset for Le Pen, who seems to admire and envy the success of the populist vote in the U.S.

Trump’s victory seems to be a sign of hope for European anti-establishment,  as Le Pen tweeted in celebration for Trump in November, indicating the NF’s confidence of the elections’ outcome.

Lombardi announced he will organize a private party for Mrs. Le Pen with “entrepreneurs, businessmen, and a couple of people from the United Nations.” All are French and supporters of Le Pen’s convictions.

Lombardi described Le Pen’s populist message as similar to Trump’s by its “resonance with the working class, left or right, fed up with the elitist, globalist politicians that are not doing anything for their own people.” He then added: “they are looking for someone, a new voice.”

After some networking in New York, Mrs. Le Pen will fly back to Lyon, France, where she will officially launch her presidential campaign, on February 4th. According to the latest opinion polls, she remains the favorite candidate.

Trump and Putin: A controversial relationship

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President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin – Image courtesy of Slate

Trump has been vague and inconsistent with many of his policies, both domestic and foreign. Democrats and Republicans alike have condemned Trump’s relationship with a particular world leader: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 The United States and Russia have had an unstable relationship since the Cold War. After the Soviet Union fell and the Cold War ended, both nations coexisted without serious conflict. Tensions arose again in 2014 during Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, and have only worsened as both countries backed different sides in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Obama has since imposed sanctions on Russia as a way of punishing Putin for his actions on the world stage. Some consider these new tensions between two world powers with a history of disagreement to be a second Cold War.

Trump has promised repeatedly to improve relations with Russia, and this commitment to working with Putin on common interests has gained him widespread support in the country. According to USA Today, about a third of Russians feel that Trump will be the best president to lead America. Russians are enamored by Trump because he admires Putin and emulates his strong leadership style as much as they do: Putin has a 90% approval rating in Russia according to polls. In an interview with CBS, Trump praised Putin’s policy of attacking Syrian rebel groups and backing President Bashar Al-Assad.

Trump promised to work with Putin on a basis of mutual interest, rather than mutual values, as defeating ISIS. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Trump answered: “wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia, wouldn’t it be nice if we went after ISIS together.”

Putin has also expressed admiration for Trump, calling him a bright and talented individual; however, this praising has been exaggerated by the president-elect himself.

Trump’s interest in Russia appears to be a constructive one, geared toward uniting two nations to create a more secure world. What Trump denies, however, is his extensive investment with Russian businessmen. Trump tweeted in July of this year that he has no investments in Russia. Although, according to Time, once Trump stopped receiving money from major banks in the United States due to recurring bankruptcies, he sought money from Russian investors inside of Putin’s circle. Trump’s son, Donald Jr., mentioned in a 2008 real estate conference, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” adding that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” His former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had business deals with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was being ousted in 2014.  Independent reported that Donald Trump Jr. held secret talks in Paris to coordinate with Russia to end the Syrian conflict.

Trump refuses to acknowledge his ties to Russia because he wants his admiration for Putin to seem political, rather than commercial.
In any case, his relationship with Putin shows again his anti-establishment mentality as he adopts policies that are disapproved by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Article by Katerina Muraviyova, COM’19

The Puppet-Masters: Who is really to fear in Trump’s America?

 

 

November 24, 2015

Cartoon by Adam Zygus/AZvision

 

 

This past week liberal America’s worst nightmare became a reality. We watched on helplessly as a man we have come to know as racist, misogynist, fear-mongering “islamophobic” (among a multitude of other qualities) be handed the pinnacle role in the US Government. For many of us, seeing those states one by one light up red was like watching years of progress disappear before our eyes.

Emotions ran high that night and continue to do so today. It seems that the post-election vibe across the East Coast, at least, is one shrouded in disbelief. But the one emotion that seems to cross cultural and societal boundaries for many minority groups is one of fear: there is so much fear as non-white members of our country. As CNN anchor Van Jones put it in a moving commentary, the results of the presidential election were a lot of things, but above all, it was a “white-lash”. Essentially, a reaction of traditional ‘white’ American culture to changing tides in racial, gender, sexuality and religious norms.

But is President-elect Donald J. Trump truly the monster we have to fear in the next four years? Yes, he will be the face we see the most. His speeches on topics that touch us dearly will anger and frustrate as ever, but can someone who has never dealt with the rabbit hole that is Washington D.C. and Congress be the nightmare we think him to be? Maybe so.

However, what is most likely is that there will be some dubious characters behind him. For example, only two days after the election did Trump bring in Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, onto the immigration transition team. Now this man is a scary character. When Kobach was questioned on his views of the border wall Trump has railed about for the entirety of his campaign, he stated that “there’s no question the wall is going to get built. The only question is how quickly will it get done and who pays for it?”

If that doesn’t rattle you, Kobach has been a major proponent of some of the most racist and anti-immigrant laws in his state. Many of us have heard of the infamous ‘Stop and Frisk’ practice in New York, but it is the lesser known, yet equally racist, SB 1070 law that Kobach was behind. This law made is possible for authorities to questions and demand identity proof of anyone who looks like an immigrant. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “laws inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070 invite rampant racial profiling against Latinos, Asian-Americans, and others presumed to be ‘foreign’ based on how they look or sound.”

What is important to note about this information is that Kobach, like many other recruits in a Trump administration, is and has been involved with government work for a long time. People like him, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence know how to deal with Congress and the nuances of government work. As a business man and public personality, Donald J. Trump does not. He’s truly a fish out of water in D.C.

So is he a mere figurehead of a much more sinister group of people? Deciding who the real monsters of the next four years is going to take time. All we can do is wait and see. But one thing is for sure, the members of his cabinet are not to be underestimated.

Article by Maria Noyen, CAS’19