The Popcorn Stand: Afraid press access will be Trumped

“If given the choice between a government without a free press or a free press without a government, I would choose the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson

Community newspapers are the watchdogs of their communities. National newspapers also serve the same purpose on the national level.

I shudder to think what would happen to our society without newspapers. I know many people disagree with his liberal views, but John Oliver on his HBO show made that point with this wonderful feature on his show:

Oliver covered how much we still depend on newspapers — while at the same time they’re realizing their potential demise. And he also in a humorous — but not so subtle way that offended many in the newspaper industry, but not me — pointed out how newspapers may not be able — or willing — any more to expose the unconscionable portrayed in “Spotlight,” the movie that won the Academy Award for best picture showing what newspapers should still be capable of doing.

I don’t know the future of newspapers. I assume at some point we’ll just become websites like everybody else. But whether print or website — no other entity in this nation — not news website, not TV, not radio, not anything — has or every will serve as powerful of a watchdog in this nation as newspapers have.

I know the attempt to cut off access to newspapers and all media and to try to obtain the most favorable coverage possible has always been a reality. President Franklin Roosevelt once referred to those in the newspaper industry as “my boys” because he was so adept at using them.

My favorite sports columnist Red Smith wrote he always knew when he was interviewing somebody they were always attempting to put as positive slant on the story as possible so he would “take a little off the top.”

But those in power for the most part have always at least provided the “bare minimum” of access necessary for the media. But my fear is that began to change on Thursday when Donald Trump drastically reduced access to the media on his first day at the White House — access that was considered routine in the past.

I know Donald Trump and many of his supporters have a distrust of the media and I get it.

But I also have to admit this. If the first day of Trump’s dealings with the press after he was elected president is any indication of how he plans to deal with the press during his presidency — it scares me to no end.

— Charles Whisnand


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