Eleanor Roosevelt High School's Student-Run Newspaper

The Raider Review

Staff Editorial: The Raider Review Taking a Stance Against Trump

Raider+Review+Staff%2C+Courtesy+of+Nancy+Vu
Raider Review Staff, Courtesy of Nancy Vu

Raider Review Staff, Courtesy of Nancy Vu

Raider Review Staff, Courtesy of Nancy Vu

Nancy Vu, Co-Editor in Chief

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The United States has always prided itself on being a country built on the morals of freedom and justice for all. Our ancestors had fought long, bloody wars on our soil to ensure that the future generations would be granted the liberties that they were once restrained from. Our immigrant forebears had came to this country with little to nothing in their pockets, leaving families and loved ones behind to seek out opportunities within the renowned “land of the free.” We are all people of a nation that supports, and stands to preserve, a government with a free and open democracy. A balance of power between the people and the government is needed to maintain this free democracy. The five freedoms in the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution ensure that our government does not abuse our freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, petition, and press.

But what would happen if our government suddenly decided to disregard our freedom of press? What if the government had manipulated their power to turn the general public against journalists? How would our freedom be at risk then?

On behalf of the Raider Review staff, we, as student journalists, are taking a stance against the recent claims being made by President Donald Trump and his administration regarding the media, and the charges that are being held against 6 individual journalists for covering inaugural protests.

On his first day as President, Donald Trump unleashed a series of attacks on journalists that were covering his inauguration, stating that they were intentionally underestimating the crowd that was in attendance, and claimed that 1.5 million people were there, which various photos disproved. Trump joked that he had “a running war with the media,” and even went as far as to call journalists “the most dishonest human beings on earth.”

Not only is that painting an inaccurate picture of journalists themselves, but it discredits the role we play in government. As journalists, it is our job to provide the truth to the public, especially when the figures that we turn to for knowledge and guidance are presenting facts that may be skewed or exaggerated. The media plays a crucial, unspoken “watchdog” role, in which they let the public know of the actions taking place by the government. If that power was to be taken away, the government could get away with anything, leaving the public in the dark.

“The public look towards journalists to inform them of the actions of the powers that be,” says senior Chiemeka Okeoma, a staff writer of the Raider Review. “If journalists are unable to do this, the public will not know what to hold politicians accountable for.”

“Contrary to Trump’s belief, the press doesn’t exist to control the public’s minds and sway them toward a specific opinion,” says senior Jordan Barton, Arts and Entertainment Editor. “The press exists to inform people about what occurs outside of their own everyday lives [in order] to encourage them to be civically involved. This way, they can form their own opinions about what decisions are being made in the government and find ways to make their opinions heard. Without the press, the United States Government becomes an oligarchy, which, I feel certain public officials aren’t necessarily worried about.”

Sports editor senior Alia Parker states, “I think that Trump’s strained relationship with the press is similar to the distrust that fascist leaders  had with the press in their countries. It can lead to propaganda and mistrust between the people and the government. With him constantly calling the news fake and claiming that the media is lying, it will become difficult for people to know what the truth is.”

Along with publicly taking a stance against the media, Donald Trump has posted various tweets on social media, calling news organizations such as CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post “fake news.”

Tweets made by President Donald Trump, regarding various news organizations, such as the New York Times and CNN.

Senior Rokhaya Niang, Opinion editor, said this incident worried her “because outlets may muddle the truth as a way to stay on the president’s good side and avoid backlash.” 

Not only is the President bashing journalism, some of his administration has been brought on board to do the same.

In a recent interview, chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon described the media as “the opposition party” to the administration under President Donald Trump, and stated that “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.” Bannon is known for rarely granting interviews to journalists, besides the ones that work at Breitbart News, a far-right-wing website that he ran until August, according to the New York Times.

No, Stephen Bannon. We will not shut up. I speak for the Raider Review staff when we say, we will never stop reporting the truth, we will never be ashamed for doing our jobs, and we will never allow our freedom of press to be oppressed.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has also been inciting this “media war” with Donald Trump. In a recent interview with Fox News, Conway was asking why journalists who “talked smack all day long about Donald Trump” were not terminated from their jobs, and was openly criticizing journalists for expressing their opinions on the administration. Conway has also been under-fire recently for using the term “alternative facts” when referring to press secretary Sean Spicer’s refuted claims of Donald Trump’s inauguration as having “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

There is a definite difference between immaturely ridiculing someone and providing a factual argument that supports one’s opinion. Different opinions thrown around the discussion table are beneficial for people to understand distinct perspectives from people of various backgrounds. But to shut down the right of the people to express their opinions, would be to shut down the people’s right to freedom of speech. Shutting down the opinions of the public stops the flow of healthy “food for thought.” Shutting down opinions stops us from understanding each other. Also, the term “alternative facts,” are not facts at all; they are direct falsehoods. Without journalists to point out the fallacy in Conway’s statement, it likely that many people would overlook it.

Not only was the media used as a target, but 6 individual journalists were charged with felonies after covering inaugural protests. These journalists could be facing up to 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines if they are found guilty under Washington, D.C’s law against rioting, according to The Guardian. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) stated that they will be working to have the charges dropped. The charges for one journalist, Evan Engel, were dropped on January 27th. The rest of the journalists will have hearings taken place in either February or March.

Senior Maya Whaley, photo editor, expressed her concerns for the charges held against the journalists. “One of the basic principles of this country is free press, and when [Donald Trump] targets journalists trying to do their jobs, he is threatening the very fabric of this country.” 

Are we going to allow this form of fascism to oppress our right to the truth? The answer is no- as student journalists, we are not going down without a fight. But how? Senior Nora Stewart, the co-editor in chief, stated that the solution was a simple three-lettered word- the “law”.

“One of the principal ways they can combat this oppression is through the law,” said Stewart. “Freedom of press is a right guaranteed by the Constitution, and as hard as he may try, Trump can’t tweet away the Constitution. Journalists should not have to bring legal action in order to do their jobs, but it may be necessary.”

 

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Eleanor Roosevelt High School's Student-Run Newspaper
Staff Editorial: The Raider Review Taking a Stance Against Trump