By: Zack Duvall
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ.) has been making a lot of waves in the media recently with his, what some are calling apology, tour of our European allies. However, Sen. McCain claims his trip was an attempt to reassure our nation’s allies America will stand with them against all forms of what he has called “Russian aggression” in the eastern part of Ukraine. His recent trip and media comments come in light of recent allegations of collusion between members of the President Trump’s cabinet and Russian officials.
McCain continued his media appearances and, in a taped interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, took on the issue of President Trump and his continued attacks on those in the media he claims are responsible for publishing “fake news” about his administration.
“We need a free press, and we must have it.” Sen. McCain told Todd in the interview. He went on to talk about how the importance of a “free press” was vital in order to “preserve democracy”.
“That’s how dictators get started.” He continued on to say when referring to President Trump’s recent no holds barred attacks on the “mainstream media” and its affiliates.
While the Flynn controversy does indeed bring up some very valid questions about the inner workings of the very new administration and some of its leadership, the various previous “controversies” or “scandals” reported by the media as grounds to slander the President and his team have largely been nothing more than political hit pieces, and even in some cases, proven to be completely false.
The New York Times, CNN, and Buzz Feed have all issued apologies or have been at the center of controversies of their own over the integrity of their reporting and published articles, and they aren’t the only media outlets to do so this past year.
Sen. McCain has it right when he says that there is a need for a free press. Simply put, “the media” and the men and women who call themselves journalists are among some of the most important and influential people in our nation. If for no other reason than because the need for knowledge is everlasting and only increasing.
If we are a society that believes in the thinking “knowledge is power”, than the people who we rely on for that knowledge have an obligation to put their personal beliefs and feelings aside, and do everything in their power to make sure that they fulfill that great and vital obligation to society they chose to accept when they set out on the path to become journalists. That full obligation being, to make sure they doing everything in their power to provide legitimate and unbiased facts regardless of political affiliation and support.
Where Sen. McCain gets it wrong is in the details and particulars of the contract between the public and those in the media. You see, I have not met one Trump supporter who has openly called for the complete shutdown of the media as a whole. Just as I haven’t met any ‘liberal’ leaning voter who can say that the media is completely honest and trustworthy. What both sides do agree on is the need for accountability for those who have accepted the responsibility to report the “news” to the public.
What is meant by my above statement is that no one is calling for the outright “destruction” or “shutdown” of the media. Not even the President himself. Sen. McCain is doing a disservice to all Americans when he words his phrases as he did during the interview. The second disservice he is doing to Americans who listen to him, is that he ignores the need for an honest press. A free press who is nothing but dishonest is just as much of a threat to our democracy as the lack of a press.
When one can no longer rely on traditional sources and outlets for the knowledge that they rely on to make decisions on behalf of their families, the impact on everyday Americans is on the most personal level. Although, some have brought up the argument that true unbiased journalism is a figment of the human imagination, because humans can never truly disconnect from the emotions that we feel on many issues involved in politics and world events. Americans have never been faced with such an outright biased media culture.
However, to be clear I don’t think Sen. McCain”has fallen off the rocker”, nor do I believe he is too ignorant to realize how wrong he is. He is simply a victim of his changing district demographics. He is in fact as political as the media he is coming to defend.
So allow me to break it down and possibly clear up why I also don’t believe Sen. McCain is truly making these comments in some master scheme against the President and his administration. He is simply making his re-election viable by putting enough distance so he won’t be tied to Trump’s policies during the next election cycle. This will majorly backfire if the President is successful, a double edge sword.
Everyone, who pays attention to demographics of voting districts, knows that Arizona, especially the Phoenix area, is turning very blue very fast. There was talk this past election about Arizona going for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, and even though the Trump team pulled off the win in the state, it was by much less than in years past.
But to go back to Sen. McCain’s main point and “the need for a free press”, he may be right, but he is wrong in leaving out the crucial role that the President and many on the right are trying to remind Americans they have a duty to uphold. Holding the press accountable and to standards of the highest integrity.