Reading time: 7min.

by Hans Crusim

The achilles heel of the Trump administration

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarise that society. We can brutalise it. Or we can help it onto a higher level.”

The legendary advertising icon of the 1940’s Bill Berbrach, once said these wise words. With today’s current political landscape, both outside and inside America, I think these words are now more important than ever.

President-elect Trump, as we all know, is infamously a magnet for scandals and outrageous statements. Every political move and Tweet (he really is active on Twitter, for somebody who still needs to show the replacement plan to justify the repeal of the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare) is analysed by journalists’ worldwide. Often attracting angry left-wingers ready to publish any negative articles regarding the soon to be inaugurated 45th President of the United States of America.

What the President-elect has gone to prove, since he won the 2016 elections, is that in his case bad press is still somewhat beneficial as it gives him a voice. Being a controversial figure to so many, with his bigotry, ignorance and childish antics on Twitter, now it is just being passed off as a part of his ‘character’. His once shocking statements are now expected and regarded as the norm. Can we really accept a world leader who, first off, attacks Civil Rights advocates like Rep. John Lewis? Who Trump recently attacked on Twitter after the Rep questioned the legitimacy of his Presidency. Can we really accept a world leader that continually ignores possible national intelligence security issues?

There are a number of issues the President-elect continues to ignore and I could list them all day- like I said this man is a magnet for scandals. I urge all journalists to continue to report factual news regarding Trump, making sure he has the right answers to the questions of the people. But what I do not condone, no matter how much I dislike Donald Trump, are the slander pieces being written about him.

Recently, I watched a video on The Young Turks (TYT) YouTube channel, a progressive online news network. A personal hero of mine: Laurie Penny was featured in this particular video. The usual cast and crew were on with Ms Penny discussing the news regarding the #WaterSportsGate controversy, which of course, involved the President-elect. What was it all about? I’m sure you know. An unverified dossier was published by Buzzfeed claiming a number of embarrassing “reports” on Mr Trump- but what really caught peoples eye was that allegations that the future President had the audacity to make sex workers perform, to put it indelicately, a “golden shower” in a bed the Obamas once slept in.

The TYT cast and crew, as well as Ms Penny, discussed the truth of this dossier as well as the journalistic ethical boundaries that Buzzfeed crossed by publishing the dossier, to which they admitted, this unverified report. One of TYT’s hosts, Ana Kasparian, called this action from Buzzfeed “…beyond irresponsible and unethical…” and I’m inclined to agree with her. Please note that, I’m not a supporter of Trump nor is Ms Kasparian but to publish an unverified document, even if Buzzfeed did repeatedly say it’s unverified and have found no evidence supporting it, is not at all what journalists should be doing.

What Buzzfeed essentially did is support an illegitimate smear campaign on the President-elect. They did not report news, they did not present verified facts they published something controversial because they know it’ll gain traction. They know that left-wingers, centre right’s etc will eat this up and use it to smear Donald Trump, even with the other verified and factual information they could use. Buzzfeed knowingly published the, possibly false, dossier and just let their general readership decide.

Politically, I think we have the responsibility to make sure we cut through spouted nonsense produced by political theatre, which American politics is riddle with, and give the general public real, verified, properly researched information regarding political movements and figures. That maybe idealistic but in the year where one of the world’s most influential countries is about to be under the administration of a guy who claims to fight for the little guy but for years exploited them- yes I think the integrity of the media has to be considered to fight off the symptoms of the Trump administration.

Trying to beat Trump at his own game is not the way to rise up against the administration. Creating fake facts and putting on a façade is exactly what he does and we should not emulate his actions. If we’re to criticise a man who seemingly lies about his campaign statements (look at what his “great wall” plans has become- part fence…) and keeps skeletons in his closet to the very people he claims to be so transparent to (with the President-elect hiding his tax returns) we should not be hypocrites. Buzzfeed, by publishing this article, has given the President-elect ammunition to use against any journalists that really do want to uncover Trump’s controversies. By creating the #fakenews movement, which he first used against CNN for publishing news regarding the dossier, he now discredits any journalists who try and publish any sort of news against him- in the process using Buzzfeed as an example to why the public shouldn’t trust what the media has to say about him. His followers and supporters have even gone to use this #fakenews movement to attack anti-Trump activists who dare to go against him.

Laurie Penny, in the video discussion with TYT, has even commented on the fact that this could possibly lead to America treating journalists as Russia does. A Russian journalist, Alexey Kovalev, pointed out that he’s already seeing the symptoms of authoritarianism in Trump’s first press conference performed. He went far as to even create a guide to counter it, based on his experiences with President Putin. Its not a surprise Trump treats the press as Putin does with all the arse-licking he’s doing, given the proven allegations that Russia has been tampering with American democracy.

So, what do we do? How do we fight against Trump with seemingly complacent American citizens lettings his lies and atrocities pass? Keep reporting verified news about Trump. The President-elect is very much, I believe, to be on the path of self-destruction. With all the back tracking, or scaling back, on most of his campaign promises and all the recent controversy he’s been tied to, which has led a lot of notable figures and citizens questioning the legitimacy of his Presidency; even the once faithful Trump supporter is starting to doubt their chosen President.

CNN: “Americans’ impressions of Trump have worsened since November. In that time, disapproval of his handling of the transition has climbed seven points to 52%, the percentage who think he’ll do a good job has dropped five points, and the share saying they have lost confidence in Trump’s ability to be president grew 10 points.”