The F Word: Donald Trump and The Future of Media

Election '16

"I'm not like other people. We're going to have people sue you like you never got sued before."

With words like those uttered in February this year, Donald Trump set fear into the hearts of the Fourth Estate. "We're in for the fight of our lives over press freedom," said the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation the day after election day. The threats are very real on the campaign. Trump bullied and blacklisted reporters he didn't like. From the stage, the candidate egged on his crowd to hiss the press corps, and a long list of untrustworthy reporters were famously barred from the scene. Not satisfied with blacklists and bully tactics, Trump threatened lawsuits. It's pretty clear he hasn't the slightest grasp of the constitution, which come January 20th next year, he'll be pledging to uphold. It's real. Donald Trump's disdain for the first amendment spurts from his lips, his eyes, his everywhere.

Still, while others profit off rumors of a press-White House war, I say bring it on. We need relations between the press and the powerful to be as cantankerous as possible. It's media coziness with power that brought us to this place. The Washington Post and The New York Times were suppressing pictures of dead and tortured Iraqis and holding back stories about illegal state spying long before Donald Trump came to power.

 More frightening to me than a new chill in press-presidential relations was the picture of Trump's secretary of state contender, Rudolph Giuliani, with Rupert Murdoch of News Corp recently. To get real, lawsuits cost money. If media corporations are to fight for their rights and defend their reportings, they're going to need real cash.

It is great that readers are stepping up to the plate signing up in droves for new subscriptions to The Times, The Post, and magazines. The New Yorker says it signed up 10,000 new subscribers in a matter of hours. Sign up. Subscribe. We need you more than ever, but put your money where the courage has been. Who has best had your back? The crony corporate press, or the independent media who've never held anything back and never had two pennies to rub together?

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