Mainstream media are being held hostage.
President Donald Trump serves as a lightning rod for issues and people of his choosing. He brings the attention back to himself — as he is a huge believer that any publicity is good publicity — so that he can guide the media wherever he so chooses.
He drives the news, acting as puppet master for the media, even if that means issuing legislation on social media or making bizarre and blatantly false statements that the White House has to go back and clean up.
Most people know by now that opening President Trump’s Twitter account unleashes a bottomless pit of faulty information. He bashes media outlets and claims that every entity that wrongs him is either “failing” or “fake news.”
Take a look at the claim he made in a tweet about former President Barack Obama wiretapping Trump Tower. These allegations came from nowhere, yet those phony claims launched an investigation and therefore wasted everyone’s time, taking away from developments in the case of collusion with Russia during the election last year.
In July, Trump even made the split decision to tweet that transgender individuals would be banned from serving in the military, blindsiding the Pentagon.
This upset came in the middle of the repeal-and-replace debacle while the GOP was trying to get the votes for its skinny version of the health care laws established during Obama’s administration. House Republicans tried to put the bill to a vote before even allowing the public time to read the bill, releasing it a few hours before the vote.
Just this month, Trump opened an old wound. He tweeted about Hillary Clinton, poking fun at the notion that she might run in 2020.
“Tweeting is like a typewriter — when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show,” President Trump said in an interview with Fox Business. “When someone says something about me, I am able to go ‘bing, bing, bing,’ and I take care of it.”
Due to this, can his tweets be deemed credible enough to be used in an assignment for a class?
Steve Stewart, an assistant professor of multimedia journalism, said that it depends on the situation. “I would say you could use Donald Trump’s tweets as a source of what he’s saying and what he thinks,” he said. “As to what he might say in that certain things are fact, you would need additional sources to verify that, because unfortunately, the president’s statements don’t always turn out to be factual.”
Keep in mind that those 140 characters are not legislation, and the tweets are not necessarily for you, the general public; they appeal to his supporters who hit the retweet button before checking if his facts are accurate.
Trump spreads misinformation with no regard to consequences. According to Politifact, 21 percent of his statements are mostly false, 33 percent are false and 15 percent are “pants on fire,” or a blatant lie.
His most avid supporters, who are a part of the media, circulate those tweets until other news outlets follow along in the coverage.
Every day, the media are faced with a bogus new post that demands attention simply because the president wants attention to be given. This method, although corrupt, is unfortunately effective. By putting out a new controversial tweet daily, Trump is able to keep the spotlight on himself instead of his less savory counterparts, such as Steve Bannon or anyone in Congress who receives heat for bad government.
The dilemma is that news about the government should not come from the government itself. Russia and North Korea operate this way, with no free press and no free speech to keep government institutions in check.
The media have fallen victim to Trump’s ways, but avoiding the corruption is very simple as an individual.
Citizens and media outlets have to look past Trump’s feed and look at what is happening in Congress. Use reliable news sources to learn about what goes on in Congress.
Do not leave it up to news outlets to fact-check our president. Fact-checking is as easy as opening a tab and inquiring whether or not something is true.
We must not let Trump’s Twitter account dominate our news. Take the initiative as an American to choose your news, check facts and take care not to spread false news. If you hear it, correct it.
Only you can prevent the spread of fake news.