The continued language coming out of the White House on the “enemedia” or the “lying press” has directly affected the safety of journalists, which saw sharp declines all throughout the Americas and especially in the US:
The Americas saw the greatest deterioration in press freedom of any part of the world during the last year, a press advocacy group said Thursday.
The 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders shows that Nicaragua fell 24 places from the previous year’s list due to attacks on journalists covering protests against President Daniel Ortega. Some journalists fled abroad, fearing they might be jailed on terrorism charges.
El Salvador saw the region’s second steepest fall — 15 places — because journalists suffered armed attacks, harassment and intimidation by politicians, according to the report.
There were also poor performances in Venezuela, Brazil, United States and Mexico. The latter is one of the world’s deadliest countries for the media, with at least 10 journalists slain in 2018.
The press group registered a record number of arbitrary arrests and cases of violence by the authorities in Venezuela, and many journalists left that country to avoid retribution.
The report said that never before in the United States have journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security companies for protection. An armed man walked into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, and killed four journalists and another employee last June.
The situation in the Americas reflects a global trend in which the number of countries regarded as safe for journalists continues to decline, given the hostility expressed by political leaders.
“If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly toward a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” said the group’s secretary-general, Christophe Deloire.
Costa Rica continues to be the best-ranked country of the Americas by far, with a 10th place among 180 countries evaluated. Cuba is at the other end of the hemispheric spectrum.
The World Press Freedom Index assesses six separate benchmarks and assigns each country a score calculated from answers to a questionnaire in 20 languages that is completed by experts around the world.
Norway is ranked first for the third consecutive year and Turkmenistan replaced North Korea in last place. (source, source)
Many journalists and media producers have written things which are false or not good. This is not to be denied. However, journalists almost always do what they are told by their bosses, who receive orders in turn from the owners of the studio. The journalist in that way functions many times like a prostitute- to earn his daily bread, he has to sell himself intellectually to somebody he may not like but otherwise will not be able to live. This is what many find out later on.
The situation with the press has worsened over the years, including under Obama, Bush II, and Clinton. However, under Trump it has reached a new low. The press may have told stories that are not true, but using terms such as “lying press” or “lying media” is the contemporary equivalent to the Lügenpresse used in the last century by a certain famous nationalist who is still revered by many to this day:
The danger of such rhetoric is that it is a pretext to justify violence, which aside from the reality TV show of the White House’s nonsensical saga in Congress, is what Trump has done by his policies. Trump has, taking the standpoint of his actions alone has:
-Advocated for the remilitarization of Germany
-Advocated for the remilitarization of Japan
-Taken a side in the Korean conflict that favors Japanese remilitarization
-Stirred up animosity with China
-Stirred up animosity with Russia
-Supported neo-nationalists throughout Europe
-Supported Turkish militarism
-Incited xenophobia at the US border over non-issues
-Made the US the #1 weapons supplier for Saudi Arabia
-Supported the Saudis in their genocide of the Yemenis
-Blindly supported miltaristic polities for the private benefit of Israel
-Encouraged and continued an aggressive war against Syria after promising to end the war
-Pushed for an aggressive war and revolution against Iran
-Directly assisted in the overthrow of the sovereign nation of Venezuela
-Moved US troops into key geopolitical areas in Africa where incidentally Islamic terrorists and US SpecOps are too
Like him or not, none can say that Trump has been a president who has worked for peace. To the contrary, all of Trump’s policies have been to continue and accelerate those of his predecessors, specifically in the military and industrial complexes, which are leading the world toward war.
The press, for good or bad, has responsibility to report on what is happening. Many unfortunately have not done this, but some have and thankfully so. However, to attack journalism and journalists in such a broad way is to set the stage not only for violence against journalists, but for outright propaganda as news in the form of a statesque media like that seen in many countries under socialist rule.
One does not need “pro-America” or “pro-Trump” news just as how one does not need “pro-Democrat” or “pro-Republican” news. What the news needs to do, simply put, is to report on the good, bad, and ugly for what they are. All people have their biases, and bias is OK because it means that one has a set of beliefs. What is important is to be open about said biases, and to try and approach all issues with such balance in a philosophically consistent manner. There will be errors made and perfection will have to be striven for, but as long as this is being made in good faith, it is what matters.
The situation with the press today writing egregious lies in many cases is not per se the fault of all journalists, although there are many who share blame. However, the response to this is not to call the press “lying media” and to use other forms of language whose historical purpose was to incite violence against journalists, for this only is another extreme and ineffective approach to this problem. The answer is, as it often times is, to have balance, seeking for mercy and justice in one’s writings.
Right now Trump uses this language and many applaud him, but what he has done is not to elevate public discourse, but lower it, as this opponents on “the left” have taken notice. Does one not think they will fail to use such rhetoric if they believe it will benefit them?
One can only imagine the consequences of this.
It does not matter who uses violence at this point because the fact is that a pattern has been set, building on the previous political administrations. Trump has the opportunity to use different language and, even if only temporarily, to attempt to elevate the discussion content. However, he did not. Instead, he only furthered the decline.
There can be a place for firey rhetoric. It is not entirely bad into itself. However, there is a time when too much can be used, and this is one of those times because it is begging a historical trend that when realized has deadly consequences.