In many cases, unfortunately, some people in government find it necessary to hold some person, people or institution up to pubic derision and jeering, to solidify their own support and at times to distract and confuse.
That President Donald Trump has at times been treated unfairly by the national and world news media is something that cannot be denied. It would appear that if he had not been elected 45th President of the United States, the Huffington Post would be starved for stories. The website’s quick blasts make no pretense of being balanced, and all you have to do is look at the headlines to figure that out.
And they are not the only ones.
Trump is unorthodox, to be sure. His propensity throughout the campaign and now, through the early stages of his presidency, to make false and at times outlandish statements that are later denied or walked back can be maddening to anyone who believes in the importance of truth. I myself could not imagine having to work on his staff, because of the difficulty he brings to the task himself as well as the prevalent unfairness that has been seen from some media outlets.
If the president is immune from the type of ethics rules and laws that other federal office holders and employees are subject to, then the flaw is in the law. Neither he nor anyone else should be expected to submit to requirements that simply do not exist. It is the role of Congress to make necessary changes.
It should be obvious to anyone reading this, at this point, that I am not a Trump-hater, not a person who would unfairly criticize him or any other public official, and that I therefore have no axe to grind.
But just as those who would place the president upon a virtual pillory need to exercise the fairness and caution that all of us in this business should use as guides when plying our craft, so too should the President consider toning down the rhetoric when it comes to labeling an entire profession as enemies of the people.
To be called such a thing by my president, whose office I greatly respect, is hurtful to say the least. Donald Trump does not know me, and knows nothing of my work history, and professional or personal ethics. He doesn’t know me at all, nor does he know so many of us who toil day to day to keep people informed of what their government does.
Much worse is how I see people I know and have considered friends jump onto that same train. Some have accused me of being prejudiced and judgmental since this president took office, this despite my own reluctance to enter into such discussion, particularly since I write for a local newspaper where issues such as coastal erosion and related issues are immediate and life-threatening problems.
I’ll leave the national coverage to those who specialize in it.
I don’t believe I was acting as an enemy of the people when years ago I worked hard and long to bring attention to the plight of children in the Bayou Region afflicted with mental illnesses, whose mothers and grandmothers had to drive 125 miles to have them seen by a psychiatrist. After those stories ran, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals almost immediately assigned a psychiatrist to the mental health center in Houma. When I wrote about jail inmates arrested for minor crimes but found incompetent to stand trial wasting away in a local jail because the state did not have room for them to be treated, and therefore perhaps have a chance at a trial, I don’t believe I was an enemy to anyone other than bureaucrats who were responsible for the atrocity. When I wrote about a local judge finding DCFS caseworkers in contempt and fining them on a daily basis, I was attempting to be a friend to truth.
Nonetheless, a caseworker involved still refuses to speak with me, and bad-mouths me to this day. It’s okay. I have a thick skin.
But to be called an enemy of the people with a track record like that is, to say the least, difficult to accept.
So I have a suggestion for President Trump. When the real news media, meaning the media with credential, not the partisans on either side, ask questions, please answer them. The truth is what the truth is. And you should be the first person to know this. Understand that a mere question does not indicate an agenda. I ask a lot of uncomfortable questions of our local officials. Most of the time they answer me.
A true enemy of the people is someone given their trust, who refuses to budge and disclose information. A true enemy of the people is someone who holds high office, but refuses to be accountable. Show me these qualities, Mr. President, and I won’t place you on my “enemy of the people” suspect list. I’m showing you my honesty. Please show me yours.