On the 8th of November, during the post-midterm election news Conference, an altercation took place between CNN reporter, Jim Acosta and the US president Donald Trump. Jim Acosta challenged the president about his statement during his campaign on the migrant caravan being an “invasion” and about a campaign advert showing migrants climbing over a wall. Trump’s final answer to Jim Acosta was straight to the point: “I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well your ratings will be much better”. After that, a Trump intern tried to take back the Microphone, but Jim Acosta kept it to continue questioning Trump on the Russian investigation.
The video posted by the White House was made by a far-right website InfoWars and was manipulated to show Jim Acosta pushing the intern
Later on, Jim Acosta was deprived of his hard pass, enabling him to access the White House. The White House press Secretary Sarah Sanders shared a video and accused Jim Acosta of placing his hands on an intern. She stated, “We stand by our decision to revoke this individual’s hard pass. We will not tolerate the inappropriate behaviour clearly documented in this video”. The video posted by the White House was made by a far-right website InfoWars and was manipulated to show Jim Acosta pushing the intern rather than pulling away to keep the microphone. In the end, a federal judged ordered the White House to return Jim Acosta’s hard pass.
This quarrel sets itself in times of thriving “tension” between media and politics in the United States but also worldwide. Several similar events followed the elections of Trump such as Trump praising congressmen Greg Gianforte for assaulting a journalist in October. Trump declared “any guy who can do a body Slam, he’s my guy”. This is just as alarming as Donald Trump’s lack of reaction against Saudi Arabia concerning Jamal Khashoggi’s death. Are journalists facing a more hostile political environment in their own country?
Trump’s attitude towards journalists, to some, appears more part of a political strategy.
Trump’s attitude towards journalists, to some, appears more part of a political strategy. Trump’s provocative statements have for ultimate objective to delegitimize and demonize the media as “enemy of the people”, as he likes to call them. If he convinces people that media are unfair and biased then he is free to say whatever he wants without being challenged. Trump is expecting most of the media to be offended and react straight away in a critical manner, which is what they are doing. The media are falling in the trap precociously set up for them. Certain media now have enrooted a bad habit of criticising and over-mediatising whatever Trump tweets or says. Therefore, giving partially reason to Trump. Then again when purposely attacked by Trump, what can really be done by the Media? They cannot just ignore Trump and not cover what he says, especially when he claims questionable ‘facts’.
It seems there is a lack of faith and trust in general and not only towards media.
Trump’s supposed strategy seems to be working as people are said to have less faith in the media. The Centre for Media Transition released a report gathering several studies and polls on public trust in the media. Within the report, a few polls focus on the American’s opinion. For example, A Gallup News Poll conducted in March 2017 stated: “62% of Americans believe that the media favours one party over another (…) 64% say the favoured party is the Democrats”. Another poll conducted on July 2017 by Politico & Morning Consult Poll in which people were asked about their trust in specific organisations. It concludes, “TV News channels rated highest in the credibility stakes, led by Public TV – PBS was found very credible by 29% of respondents, followed by ABC news 28%, CBS and NBC news 27%, CNN and the New York Times 26%, and The Washington Post and Fox News 24%”. Overall these figures seem to be pretty low and confirming the success of Trump’s strategy. However, the same poll also states: “21% of the respondent found information coming out of the White House to be very credible”. It seems there is a lack of faith and trust in general and not only towards media.
Another important part of Trump media strategy is to bypass traditional media with the use of social media. Internet as a political tool has revealed significant for Trump, who can now directly address the electors of the United States. The rapidity of the information flow on the Internet and the shared tool allows Trump to massively access the US citizens in a very limited amount of time.
The media must focus on doing more in-depth reporting, and try to be less aggressive to gain back their credibility.
In the end, the most negative part of this clash between the media and Trump is that it has led to a silencing of real and important issues. As a result, the media prefers to report on Trump’s life or his tweet than investigating his policies. The media must focus on doing more in-depth reporting, and try to be less aggressive to gain back their credibility.
Figures show that Trump has been a gold mine for media, increasing their subscriptions, audience and revenue.
Political observers have another relevant analysis as they argue both Media and Trump find their benefits in this strange relationship. Tobe Berkovitz, a communication professor at Boston University who specializes in political communication claims, “Both provide oxygen to each other. Rating gold for the media and a detested target for Trump to rev-up his base”. Indeed, Trump’s timing was perfect as Ann Curry, an NBC journalist insists: “He stepped on to the presidential campaign stage precisely at a moment when the media was struggling against deep insecurities about its financial future. The truth is the media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit”. Figures show that Trump has been a gold mine for media, increasing their subscriptions, audience and revenue.
Let’s hope that American media organisations will take a step back to focus on their prime aim: to inform people about significant and relevant issues.