Friday, February 24, 2017

Another take on Trump's 'enemy of the people' remark

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line poses the same question I did earlier this week about whether the news media is really the "enemy of the American people," as President Donald Trump labeled some outlets. He is right in saying Trump overstated his case, and he makes many of the same points I did, although much more concisely.

A sampling:
The best test of whether the new media fits Trump’s description occurs when an outlet has to decide whether to publish information the widespread knowledge of which threatens to harm members of the American public. Does it put the interest of public safety first? Or is its decision driven by other interests such as the desire for recognition or to harm an administration it doesn’t care for?

In my view, the New York Times behaved like an enemy of the American people when it published a story disclosing our government’s highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program. I agree with Scott [Johnson] that the story wantonly undermined an important national security program for no arguable public purpose. I agree with Tom Cotton that the Times endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers, again, for no arguable public purpose.

This isn’t the only instance in which the news media has put its interests ahead of the interest of Americans. However, I don’t know how widespread the practice is. When the media decides not to publish information because of its potential harm to America, we don’t know about it.

Thus, I think it would be unfair to conclude that the news media is an enemy of the American people based on a handful of instances in which it acts as such. As Tom Cotton once told the New York Times, we should not “paint with such a broad brush.”

It would, though, be fair to observe that many in the news media view a large portion of the American people contemptuously. My impression is that many look down on Trump supporters, and before that Tea Party sympathizers, viewing them as bitter, racist, and incapable of understanding that their interests are best served by left-liberalism (“what’s wrong with Kansas” and all that).

This doesn’t make media members enemies of the American people. However, it’s easy to understand why many Americans would have that sense.

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