Speaking Truth To Power

By: Laura Steiner

Whether through a daily press conference, or scrums, part of a Reporter’s job is to speak truth to power.  It’s not an easy.  You have to be able to look people you like, and respect in the eye  and ask them tough questions. You need to ask how their policy will affect daily lives.

With political stories, there is often no way to make it look good for anyone.   There also isn’t anything elected officials can do about those stories unless there’s some factual error. We do have the freedom to express ourselves.  Reporters are free to tell the stories, and politicians  are free to question them.

It’s a delicate balance that has been upset by Donald Trump.  He has done three things.  The first is that he has undermined the media’s credibility by calling everyone he dislikes “fake news.”  This includes such outlets as the BBC, CNN, New York Times, and Washington Post to name a few.  If media are called fake enough times, viewers/ readers stop believing in what they’re being told.  Some bigger stories are ignored.

The second is that he lies.  Almost every  time Trump opens his mouth it’s a falsehood.  He tells them so often that eventually they are taken as truth.  And when he’s questioned by the media, he often replies with an even bigger whopper.  Then the media is stuck trying to verify that one.   This makes it okay for everyone else to lie too.  This is more dangerous than the first because this tendency ignores international borders.

The third thing he’s done is the worst.  He blocked those outlets I named above, and a few more.  He restricted access.  Good journalists can get around this.  Talk to people on background, use anonymous sources. The New Times, and Washington Post have been doing this with great results. But there comes a point at which, if Reporters can’t speak truth to power, then democracy is lost.  The decision makers can, and will get away with anything.  We’re at a crossroads now where we ask: Do we let them? Or do we keep fighting?  We have no choice but to keep fighting.