Does the Press Have Any Power in the Age of Trump?

Trump Hotel

Donald Trump’s Washington D.C. Hotel

Some of you may be familiar with Steven Waldman‘s excellent book Founding Father: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious LibertyI follow Waldman on Facebook and I thought one of his recent posts about the role of the press in a Trump administration was on the mark.

Here it is (quoted with permission):

I keep reading my journo friends urging the press to step up its accountability function. I definitely agree. But something is gnawing at me. What if it wouldn’t matter? To me the story of this election is not the news media’s mistakes but the news media’s irrelevance.

We’re in a new world where the informal information system is more influential than the network news. It’s not just Facebook but also email, pop-up websites, extremist soap boxes – all rising as trust in professional media and objectivity declines.

Think about this latest question of whether Trump is financially benefiting from foreign governments in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Let’s say The New York Times and the Washington Post report the hell out of this, and find that it’s true. Would it even matter? The power of the press is to influence public opinion. But what if the public – or the part of the public that just elected the president — is just not believing “the press”? What use is accountability reporting in that case?

I was thinking about this earlier when another Facebook friend asked if Trump’s practice of selling rooms in his Washington hotel (near the White House) to foreign diplomats, and his pressuring of Scottish officials to vote against an offshore wind farm because it obstructs views on his golf course, might be considered abuses of power.

In some ways it doesn’t really matter. Does it?  Who is going to prosecute Trump for such abuses?  Certainly not Congress.  And if Waldman is right, the press is irrelevant.  After what I witnessed during the campaign, Trump can essentially get away with anything for at least the next two years.

2 thoughts on “Does the Press Have Any Power in the Age of Trump?

  1. to wit, found only in the right-wing MRC:

    Media Research Center confirms the major network blackout on Wikileaks in general and media collusion in particular:

    From Friday evening to Thursday morning, the morning and evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC dedicated 4 hours and 13 minutes to discussing the recent allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Donald Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, not only has the continual release of the WikiLeaks emails from top Hillary staff gotten a comparatively puny 36 minutes of coverage during this same time period, the coverage that is there continues to ignore specifics that could be damaging to Hillary.

    Still completely absent from the network coverage? Any mention of the emails where journalists collaborated with the Clinton campaign.


  2. Wow! Liberals don’t get it! Part of the problem in this election is not the main stream media’s failure to uncover as much corruption of Trump as it could, but its failure to cover the greater transgressions exposing Hillary. People have turned to alternative sources of information in part because the MSM has lost its grip on fair reporting. If it treated Hillary with the same rigor it treated Trump, maybe Waldman’s concerns would make sense. Unfortunately, the situation has led to a glut of really sloppy reporting elsewhere and outright fake news, much of which has been perpetrated by liberals mocking the alt-right. It comes to the place where one does not know where to go to get credible unbiased reporting. But the MSM has long since lost its credibility with many Americans. I don’t know how it will recover that credibility.


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