President Trump has excluded serveral key media outlets from a recent press briefing. CNN, The New York Times, Politico, and a few others. Meanwhile, he included other sources such as Breitbart, One America News Network, and others.
Regardless of your politics — conservative or liberal — this is wrong. It is disrespectful of the American people; it is an erosion of our constitutional freedoms; and, it is offensive behavior on the part of POTUS who has been elected to represent ALL of the citizens of this country — whether they voted for him or not, whether he likes it or not, and whether he agrees with them or not.
Let us put down our political persuasions — conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, and independent — for a moment and consider…
1) Freedom of the Press: A free press can operate in a free country only if it has access to elected officials. I celebrate Breitbart’s inclusion in press breifings and I believe they should have access. But, so should other key news sources. When you start to limit access, you are — in effect — censoring the news. You are trying to distort who can have access to information, who can report, and who can be heard. Where do you draw the line between “open and free access” as compared to “state controlled news”? There is only one place to draw that line — allow open access to ALL, regardless of viewpoint or political persuasion.
2) Government OF, FOR, and BY the People: In the United States, elected and appointed officials are SERVANTS of the PEOPLE. The PEOPLE are not SUBJECTS of their leaders. The PEOPLE are the highest level of power and authority in our democracy. Therefore, the PEOPLE have a right to transparency — full knowledge, full disclosure, and full access to the information and activities of government. Of course, highly sensitive information might be withheld for a time in EXTREME cases of immediate, national secruity. But, if that is not the case — which it is not when some news agencies are included and others are not — then no elected official has the right to refuse, hide, or restrict open discussion, open questions, and open information.
3) Fake News: It is hypocritical for an elected official to accuse ANYONE of reporting fake news…and then refuse them access to “real news” as it happens. You cannot condemn a news organization for not reporting the truth…and then withhold the truth from them. This is hypocrisy of the worst kind.
4) Tax Funded Activities: The President and his staff are paid by the hard earned tax dollars of the American people. This means that ALL taxpayers deserve to have access to their president, to his staff, and to the information that comes from the White House. When taxpayer dollars are used to give access to media outlets the President likes, and to deny access to those with which he disagrees, then he has used taxpayer dollars for political or personal purposes. This is not acceptable. In fact, it is illegal.
I do not believe these are issues of liberal or conservative politics. These are issues of fundamental values and questions of democracy and self government. These are not issues to be debated, but concepts to be defended. Regardless of political persuasion.