by Anonymous Student

Donald Trump is becoming known for his rocky relationships – with ex-wife Ivana Trump, and now with the truth as the president. His own lawyer even said, “Donald is a believer in the big lie theory. If you say something again and again people will believe you.” As you can imagine, his prospective on truth has led him to be particularly aggressive to journalists and media outlets that are not interested as serving as propagandists.

In fact, throughout his campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear that he was not a fan of mainstream media outlets. In the beginning, the animus started out fairly mild. Trump and his campaign would often argue that their candidate was getting an unfair amount of media negative attention. For example, in September of 2016 Mike Pence gave a speech to a crowd in Nevada stating, “just about everyday the national media latches on to some issue about my running mate […] they are so busy parsing every word that Donald Trump’s said in the last 30 minutes, they don’t apparently have time to talk about what the Clintons have been doing for the last 30 years”(A roar of applause and support from the audience followed shortly after).

On the surface, this claim does not seem to be invalid. According to a Washington Post study, that took over 20,000 articles from the websites of eight major media outlets (the New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Slate, Politico, Fox News and the Weekly Standard between July 1 2015 and August 31 2016), Donald Trump’s name appeared in titles of 14,924 articles, whereas Clinton’s name appeared in barley half that. Mike Pence’s statement (and the results of that study) become significantly less surprising and meaningful when you consider that Donald Trump’s livelihood depended on his celebrity. His brand’s success is directly linked to its notoriety. His wealth and influence is based around his brand. With this in mind it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Donald Trump appeared in more headlines than Hillary Clinton.

Now that he was getting coverage, but it wasn’t the type he wanted. One of Trump’s sorest spots was the size of his crowds. He was adamant that news organizations were intentionally down playing their size. According to an article from CNN, Donald Trump was at a rally in Miami complaining about media coverage of his crowds when he singled out Katy Tur by name saying, “There’s something happening. They’re not reporting it. Katy — you’re not reporting it, Katy, […] But there’s something happening, Katy. There’s something happening, Katy.” This was not the first time he had singled her out. At another rally Trump called her a “Third rate journalist” as the crowd turned to her and booed.  Trump’s campaign also famously started feuds with Meghan Kelly, Rosie O’Donnell, all of his sexual assault accusers, a handicapped reporter, a Miss USA winner, Meryl Streep, the parents of a fallen soldier, Ted Cruz and countless others.

The war raged even harder from then on. An article from USA Today quoted Donald Trump as saying, “I would never kill them, but I do hate them. And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.” And then there were the thousands of times Donald Trump referred to media as “fake news,” and the inauguration crowd scandal that spawned the Internet favorite: “alternative facts.”

Trump’s hatred of the media reached its peak when he tweeted, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!” This was particularly troubling to members of the media and the to general populous. Trump seems to be implying that only places to obtain reliable information are through himself, his team, and the conservative news outlets he approves of.

According to a Quinnipiac University Poll, 83 percent of Republican Voters agreed with Donald Trump’s assertion that certain news organizations “are the enemy of the American People.” That is a shockingly high percentage. 83 percent of Republican voters feel as if they are being lied to and taken advantage of.

What does this mean for our nation? For starters, divisions across party lines are deepening. When the vast majority of Republican voters believe that the “left” is intentionally lying to them, it becomes increasingly difficult to find common ground. The longer people harbor particular beliefs while at the same time, rejecting the opinions of others, the more entrenched their beliefs become. The longer people buy into the notion that media is lying to them; the harder it will be to change their views regardless of circumstance. Another problem with distrust in mainstream media is that people may turn to alternative and unfortunately, sometimes-unreliable, news outlets for their information. A perfect example of this transpired when a North Carolina man entered a D.C. pizza parlor with a rifle. According to the Washington Post, the man told police that he wanted to “self-investigate” the legitimacy of Pizza-gate, a conspiracy theory that circulated the Internet, claiming Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring in the backrooms of a pizza parlor.  As horrible and ridiculous as this may seem to most people, in this man’s eyes he was saving children from becoming sex slaves.

At the same time that trust in mainstream media is being eroded away by Trump’s aggressive claims, the presence of unreliable Internet news is surging. According to the Guardian, At 5:35 am on Saturday Donald trump tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Donald Trump’s claim came with no evidence, and according to the Guardian, seems to have originated from conservative radio host- Mark Levin. The story was followed up by Brietbart news. An article from NBC news stated that former president Barack Obama “rolled his eyes” when he heard about Donald Trump’s claim. Congressmen on both sides of the aisle are asking for evidence and FBI director James Comey asked the Justice Department to outright reject Donald Trump’s claim.  An investigation into the claim seems to have come up empty handed. An article from Vox stated that, “nothing that Nunes [chair of the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence], said vindicates Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.” It is still unclear if Trump genuinely believed the information coming from these unreliable sources, or if he was simply using this scandal as a red herring. Either way, this fiasco should be deeply troubling to all Americans.

The United States government seems to be sitting in a precarious position at the moment. It is imperative that those who support Donald Trump and celebrate his presidency continue to fact check, and avoid consuming information without evaluating its legitimacy. We must remember that our leaders work for us. We are the ones who hold them accountable. We do not owe them blind support. They owe us truth and competent leadership.