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In Trump’s war against the media, he’s the only loser


For over 40 years I have managed television newsrooms and consulted the networks. For President Trump to write, “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” is insulting.

The rigorous way each story is checked and rechecked for accuracy before being broadcast is part of the way the networks are critical of what they air each day. Everything that goes out to the public is sourced or attributed.

{mosads}I had the honor of writing the book “Anchoring America” and interviewing Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw and many outstanding television journalists. When Cronkite came out against the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “If we have lost Cronkite, we have lost the country.”

Peter Jennings had always reminded me how important our jobs are and the responsibilities we have in being in the front row seats to history. Peter told me “you cannot do this job or any job in journalism, in my opinion, if you are not in constant contact with the world.”

By saying things like “I’m the president and they’re not” when talking about the media, Trump is implying that news organizations are running the country and that’s just ludicrous. For the record, the television networks are not licensed, but the TV stations their parent companies own are. These licenses are issued and governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The commission would be involved in a witch hunt should the president order them to investigate.

Pulling the rug out from under dedicated reporters and punishing the companies that carry their work is the same as ripping the First Amendment right out of the Constitution. Remember these are the same networks that have saved countless lives during natural disasters and helped rebuild our cities afterward. Yes, the media has always influenced public opinion through editorials, but not in reporting fact.

Instead of trying to silence anyone who becomes critical of the administration why not get down to business in dealing with nuclear threats, millions without power, a budget train wreck, taxes, education, healthcare and our infrastructure.  

A poll released earlier this year showed that 52 percent of voters trust the media, with only 37 percent saying they trusted Trump more. I am afraid that the president is creating a deep chasm between several segments of our society. Getting into a dog fight with the mainstream media is not a good idea. Journalist are people and your neighbors. If you threaten anyone’s livelihood expect them to react accordingly, just like the way many NFL players are reacting.

The job of president has come with its detractors all the way back to George Washington. Newspapers were printing anti-government headlines and even causing international incidents long before broadcasting. Radio offered the voices and sounds of the news and was instrumental during World War II. Many of the world’s most famous journalists transitioned from radio to television, including Edward R. Murrow who set broadcast standards which are still in place today.

When I talked with Walter Cronkite he said it best:

“I am mighty proud of our profession. I am proud of the physical courage shown by many, in war, civil insurrection and dozens of less spectacular ways. I am proud of those who expose the culpable even at risk of their freedom or even their lives.”

As always, “blame is safer than praise.

Jeff Alan is a multi-Emmy winning journalist and the author of “Anchoring America” and “Responsible Journalism.” His career spans over 40 years as a television news director and anchor. He also served as a media analyst for NBC and CNN.


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