Sunday, January 22, 2017

The First Amendment: Another Rant

What an irony it was on the first full day of a new administration that the chatter should be about a couple of “Busts”—one of Sir Winston Churchill and the other of Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is an old story steeped in partisan politics and maybe even with some racial undertone.   It was in 2012, to be GOP Candidate Mitt Romney’s first  duty as president to restore Churchill to the Oval Office.  Ted Cruz made political capital out of the "Busts" with great distortion. You can read the story for yourself on the Internet:  check out all of these sources and come to your own conclusion: Breitbart News (1/20/17), Marketwatch (4/22/16)  and The Daily Mail U.K. (4/22/16). When two “Busts” become the center of political discourse and the seemingly ultimate issue for a new administration, it is not at all surprising that there should be some reporter looking for the settlement of the Bust controversy.  He later apologized for his error in reporting that the bust of King had been removed both to the Oval Office and to the press pool.  Retractions were published (Time Magazine and others).

However, the irony goes deeper as Mr. Trump’s “running war with the media” is shared with the CIA in terms of Inaugural attendance.  “I made a speech.  I looked out.  The field was—it looked like a million, a million and a half people.”  One network “said we drew 250,000 people.  Now that’s not bad.  But it’s a lie….So we caught them in a beauty.  And I think they’re going to pay a big price.”

Later in the day, Sean Spicer, White House press secretary said, “Yesterday….some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting.”  He went on to mention the Bust controversy and then to talk about the attendance at the Inaugural.   “We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts.”  His list of facts cannot be substantiated, but he concluded that, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period—both in person and around the globe.”  You can read the whole text on the Internet (I cannot quote it all here).  He ended his press conference by saying, “This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging—that bringing our nation together—is making it more difficult.  There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable.  And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways.  We’re going to hold the press accountable, as well.”

How is the press going to be held accountable?  What does the President of the United States of America mean when he says, “And I think they’re going to pay a big price.”  Is the President going to insist that the media print only what he wants them to print, only his point of view, only his side of the coin, only what he sees?

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