Donald J. Trump was inaugurated Friday, becoming our nation’s 45th president.
It could have been a momentous occasion, one we could all be proud to remember. He is our president, he is president to all Americans.
But, while he promised that he would unite the country, bring us all together, his inaugural speech did just the opposite. It was the most antagonistic, in your face, speech I’ve ever heard.
I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less. After all, we’ve been listening to the same divisive rhetoric for the past year. We heard it throughout his campaign. Why should we expect anything different now that he’s been elected?
Then on Saturday, when Mr. Trump had ample opportunity to talk to us, he sent his press secretary out to deliver a tongue-lashing tirade against the media. Pictures don’t lie, Mr. Trump. It is obvious to anyone, and should be evident to everyone, that your inauguration on Friday did not draw the largest crowd in inauguration history. On the contrary, it was relatively sparsely attended.
Side by side photos do not lie.
So, while Mr. Spicer lashed out at the media, you ignored, except in more inaccurate “tweets” the thousands of protests around the nation and around the world by women, men and children. And, no, they weren’t violent protests, rather peaceful marches and protests, the likes of which have not been seen in places like Washington, D.C., since the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s (Remember Vietnam, Mr. President? While many of us in your generation were called to serve, and did so, you avoided the draft on three separate occasions. Surely you remember that, Mr. President).
Your narcissistic rants continued when you went before the CIA on Saturday, standing before a wall covered with stars, each of them representing an agent who had given his life in service of this country. With that wall in the background, sir, you first of all told us that you had graced the cover of Time Magazine “about 15 times” and told us that no one else had been on that cover more than you. Perhaps you didn’t remember that Richard Nixon had been on the cover of Time on 22 occasions, most of them during the Watergate investigation which ultimately led to his resignation. Perhaps you didn’t remember that President Barack Obama had been on the cover 18 times or that even Hillary Clinton had graced the cover on more occasions than you.
But, the most appalling part of your speech was an out-and-out untruth. After calling the Media “a bunch of dishonest people” you then called them out once again saying that “according to the media” you had made some anti-intelligence remarks, but that “I’m so behind you; in fact, I’m so behind you that you’ll probably say that I’m too much behind you.”
Well, Mr. Trump, how can you say those things? How can you blame the media when the whole world has seen your tweets? You have disputed the intelligence findings that Russia was behind the hacking during the campaign, and we’ve seen your comments comparing our intelligence community with that of Nazi Germany. Those comments are out there; you tweeted them yourself. And, yet, you deflect all that on a “dishonest” media.
If ever there was a liar’s hall of fame, you should be a unanimous inductee. Over and over again, you have made untrue comments, then told us that you “never said them,” blaming, instead, the “dishonest media” who created “fake news.”
It’s how you got elected, Mr. Trump, but it won’t work in the long run. Sooner or later you’re going to have to face things. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees Freedom of the Press. With that freedom comes responsibility and, after nearly 55 years associated with the media, I can honestly say that most of the people I’ve come across during those years, most of the people I’ve worked alongside, take their responsibilities very seriously. We are not “dishonest” people. We are hard-working individuals who have a responsibility to tell every story and to report both sides of all issues.
I’m proud to say I see that type of professionalism among my former colleagues in the media.
One of the signs held high during Saturday’s march in Washington, D.C., read simply: “A free press makes America great.”
I believe that wholeheartedly, Mr. President. You would do well to accept that, too. If you don’t cease treating the media as your enemy, it could be a long, long four years for you. I remind you of what a great American once said: “Don’t pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel.”
That great American was Mark Twain. He was a wise man. Authoritarian governments have always made the press their first target. Limit the press, take away their power, and you have free reign.
Believe me, Mr. President, America’s media will not let that happen.