While President Trump is often criticized for his adversarial relationship with the mainstream media, Trump is continuing a tradition of media criticism started early in the Republic.
President Trump’s relationship with the mainstream media is one of the topics present in any discussion about the Trump presidency. The president’s harsh criticism and social media wars against the media has become legendary, and his relationship with the media has become both one of the biggest criticisms against him, and one of the biggest reasons his fans support him.
On the liberal side, it is very common to see people trashing Trump for speaking against media bias and manipulation, calling him an anti free-speech tyrant and implying that his criticism of the media is somehow censorship. Along with their social media posts and articles, you can commonly see them using a quote falsely attributed to third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson to make their point, implying the founding fathers would disapprove of Trump’s behavior and consider it un-American.
Here it is:
– Thomas Jefferson
Looking back at his writings from the time, it gives us a very different view on how the founding fathers actually interacted with the media though. Thomas Jefferson for example, while himself a defender of free speech, also strongly condemned the newspapers of his time much like President Trump does today with the likes of CNN, and for the exact same reasons.
Here are some notable examples:
“As for what is not true you will always find abundance in the newspapers.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.” – Thomas Jefferson
“I deplore with you the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed, and the malignity, the vulgarity, and mendacious spirit of those who write for them.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Indeed, my skepticism as to everything I see in a newspaper, makes me indifferent whether I ever see one.” – Thomas Jefferson
“From forty years’ experience of the wretched guess-work of the newspapers of what is not done in open daylight, and of their falsehood even as to that, I rarely think them worth reading, and almost never worth notice.” – Thomas Jefferson
What we can conclude from this is, not that criticisizing the media is some recent and terrible type of tyranny, but that freedom of speech goes both ways. While you are free to speak your mind, you are not free from criticism.
As long as Trump does not use his presidential powers to forcefully supress opinions, his attitude remains not only in conformity with what America has always believed, but within his constitutional rights.
Guest post by Disdainus Maximus.