In The Post, Aaron Blake’s analysis told it plainly: “Trump’s news conference with Putin was everything Putin could have dreamed” read the headline. | The lead headline on the Guardian US website got right to the point, too: “Trump ‘treasonous’ after siding with Putin on election meddling.”
But the press’s default position is to normalize, to represent various points of view with equal weight, to be swayed by the pomp of the presidential office. To act as if everything is just a variation on a theme — something we’ve seen before but maybe in a slightly paler shade.
That’s not good enough.
Journalism, writ large, can be proud of the Associated Press’s Jon Lemire and Reuters’s Jeff Mason, who asked well-honed, incisive questions on Monday and asked them in just the right way…. If any such pride is to continue in the hours and days ahead, news organizations need to step up to the job of driving home to American citizens the larger picture, too. —Washington Post
I have always taken a neutral stance in my journalism classes, modeling the objective nature of reporting the news “without fear or favor.” I shall continue to uphold reporting designed to publish objective truth, and criticize and expose exaggeration, rumor, wishful thinking, and outright lies presented in the guise of truth.
This fall, I will tell my students that my role as their journalism instructor includes noting that one of the first steps in the playbooks of autocrats and tyrants is to undermine public trust in independent sources of information, vilifying sources of data and opinion outside the party in power. Threats to their power include scientists, educators, artists, human rights workers, and, yes, journalists.
A free press is vital to the health of a democratic society.
In that light, I recommend this insightful analysis by Margaret Sullivan, in the Washington Post: