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Is Trump’s Tirade Against Media Appropriate? – OpEd


Ever since Donald Trump entered politics, he has been critical of the media. During the US Presidential election, his tirade against the media almost reached peak level. Now, even after becoming the President after his controversial election campaign, he has not tapered down the intensity of his attack on the media. The latest tirade against the media by Trump was at Davos, where he was supposed to have gone to speak about America’s economic interests. Obviously, the hatred against the media occupies the uppermost level in his mindset.

It is not clear as to who started this “war” between Trump and the media, whether it was Trump or the media.

While Trump loses no opportunity to express his disapproval of the media in the US, which now almost appears to have become an obsession for him, the US media has behaved no better. Why the US media? Most sections of the media around the world seem to dislike Trump and want him to exit the political scene.

In most cases, the media’s writings and discussions about Trump have been in harsh terms and totally impolite, discourteous and sometimes seem to be an extreme view point.

Even many of those, who are critical of Trump for continuing his campaign against the media, do think that the media also has severely erred in viewing President Trump and his actions with prejudiced and blurred vision. The media seems to have forgotten that it has to be neutral and unbiased in commenting and interpreting the scenario under any circumstances.

In India too, another democratic country providing almost limitless freedom to the media, a section of media appears to be carrying on a motivated campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and does not see anything good in whatever he has done so far. The media invariably gives prominence to the utterances of critics of Modi and tries to make it look as if it represents the national view, though some of these critics belong to fringe groups known for their extreme and narrow views. While any government will have some flaws, fairness requires that both the good and the bad should be highlighted instead of focusing largely on negatives only. In this respect, US and Indian media seem to have something in common.

In earlier days, it was well known that politicians around the world had generally self-centered views and would not hesitate to chalk out schemes to advance their personal interests, sometimes even over the national interests. Politicians never had the best image as honest crusaders. But, in the past, this has not been the image of the journalists and media personnel.

People always expected that media by its structure and approach should be keeping the national interest in view under any circumstances and its observations must be fair, logical and should be able to stand fair scrutiny. In other words, the media was considered as the conscience keeper of the nation and the voice of the people. One has to now ask whether the media these days meets such expectations. Many people around the world think today that it is no more the media that we know of.

Today, most of the print and visual media are managed by the business houses, who have profit as their priority motive and sometimes are owned by political parties that have set views on any matter. With profit the theme becoming the central focus of media houses, it is inevitable that principles as per the journalistic ethos has become the first casualty and gone for a toss.

It is high time now that both President Trump and US media should introspect, keeping the long term view of the nation and immediately stop this mutual bickering. The present tussle between President Trump and US media is not doing credit to either of them.

Particularly, the US media should realize that President Trump will cease to be President after his term and the next incumbent may be more cautious in his utterances. However, the media’s reputation, once it is lost, cannot be retrieved in such quick time and it would be a very long haul for the media to retrieve its credibility and glory.

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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