Wednesday, 25 January 2017




SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER


Many people have written articles and blogs about Donald Trump since he became President and Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America. They've written about his misogynism, his racism, and his homophobia and his Nazi ideals. What not many people have written about though is his constant hateful behaviour towards journalists.

Since his campaign trail for the White House began, President Trump has consistently and persistently harassed and insulted the media. Not only as a collective group, but he has lashed out at individual outlets and worse he has targeted specific journalists.  He has basically declared war on us.

Not that journalists are any strangers to being targeted. There are plenty of instances where the free speech of journalists has been at best curtailed and at worse silenced all together.

I have already written many times about the horrific press crackdowns in the Middle East, but press freedoms are also a luxury in South East Asia and Turkey.

But that couldn't happen in the West could it? Well, it could and recently did. Six journalists in the United States were charged after covering an anti-trump riot and being caught up in the mass arrests afterwards. Their punishment? Ten years in prison.

So the last thing America needs in charge is a man who clearly sees journalism (and the media in general) as the spawn of Satan. And that is not an exaggeration.

He has insulted women journalists with his usual misogynistic expertise. He mocked disabled journalist Serge Kovaleski in the most insulting way possible.

Of course, every time he does something that stupid, he will claim it never happened, despite the fact there are cameras watching him and sometimes photographic evidence. He thinks we are either forgetful, blind or in some cases both.

He tells us we are liars, and we are trying to make him look bad, even though he is doing a perfectly good job of that himself. And when people try to tell the truth he shuts them down. The US National Park Service was banned from tweeting refutes of Trumps lies about the attendance at his inauguration. The National Parks Service, to their utter credit, started tweeting rogue tweets in an effort to back-handedly tell Trump to sod off. He has also said he is going to ban the media from the White House. What he actually means is he will only allow in journalists who agree with him, lie for him, print/broadcast those lies and print/broadcast his Nazi rhetoric.

The one thing that disturbed me most is his verbal abuse at particular journalists. The most notable instance being at a press conference where CNN's Jim Acosta tried to ask him a question. Trump's uncalled for response was, "I'm not giving you a question - you are fake news!". When, as a good journalist does, Acosta persisted, Trump told him, "Don't be rude!" Right, so a guy doing his job tries to ask a question, Trump stomps on him, tells him his organisation is a liar and he accuses Acosta of being rude? Seriously?

He then compounds this idiocy by saying that the media needs to be held to account. If we screw up, then yes, we deserve to be scrutinised just like anyone else, but if we are telling the truth then we are just doing our job.

My message to Trump: You have no idea how this journalism thing works have you? We stand you up to scrutiny, Mr President. NOT the other way around. Our job is to tell truth to power. You are that power now, and we will hold you to account, especially if you lie. Oh, and while we're at it, give it a rest with the fake news garbage. What you actually mean is you want to lie and get away with it and will say it's fake news if we tell people different. In other words when we tell them the truth. You need us the press corps. You forget, if it wasn't for the media, you wouldn't be where you are or have the high public profile you have enjoyed up until now. Get off that self-absorbed high horse you are constantly on and admit, no matter how much it hurts, because the truth usually does, that you need us. You need journalists, you need journalism. Stop acting as if journalists are your mortal enemy. We're not and we never have been.

My message to journalists is this: Peter Greste once said that journalists are a cantankerous lot, we are very competitive, we never agree on anything. Well, right now we need to be the opposite. We need unity. We need to come together and show Trump that we will not ignore his lies, we will not cease to call him out when he talks complete nonsense, and most important of all we will not sit back and let him insult us and our profession. The more he insults us, the more we must stand up to him. The more he lies, the more we must tell the truth.

We have at least four more years of this and it's going be very painful. We must not let Trump destroy us. Let's defend to the hilt our passion and the love of our profession.


"The more you refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing" ~ Labi Siffre