Trump sets a dangerous example for future media

By Editorial Board

American journalists are banned from reporting in a handful of countries throughout the world including Eritrea, North Korea and Syria, where oppressive governments control the actions of the press, and now the White House may have been added to that list for a select few media organizations.

American journalists from five media outlets including CNN, The New York Times and Politico were banned by White House representatives from an informal briefing held by White House press secretary, Sean Spicer Friday.

When President Donald Trump and his administration decided to handpick media outlets for their briefings, they set a dangerous precedent for the United States. As journalists, it is our job to check on the national government, and as journalists for the Northern Star, it is also our job to check on NIU and President Doug Baker as well as the county of DeKalb.

A free press has been the bedrock of the U.S. for more than 200 years. Our forefathers believed so strongly in a free, unabridged press that it was written into the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The press has existed as a watchdog over the government since political activist Thomas Paine published “Common Sense” in 1776. The media played important roles in the investigation of former President Richard Nixon and his administration’s involvement in Watergate and also the investigation into the National Security Agency after Edward Snowden provided top-secret documents to journalists.

From 1985 to 1986, the Northern Star was able to differentiate rumor from fact and investigated the overspending and wastefulness of former NIU President Clyde Wingfield, who only served as president for 10 months.

“The Northern Star began receiving tips about controversial things having to do with Clyde Wingfield, starting at his previous place of employment before coming to NIU,” said Jerry Thompson, the adviser of the Northern Star at the time, according to a Sept. 25, 2011, Northern Star article. “If it hadn’t been for the newspaper taking these tips and turning them into stories, he would’ve remained as president.”

Before he was fired, Wingfield removed Thompson from his position as adviser of the Star in “an obvious attempt to take control of the content of the Northern Star,” according to a May 1, 1986, Northern Star editorial.

The alternative to a free press is one controlled by the government. The only news that can come from a source such as this is propaganda. A press controlled by the government leaves no one to address alleged lies.

The Washington Post, ironically known to be sympathetic to the Trump administration, is keeping a running “fact checker” to make light of any false or misleading claims made by Trump. Since Jan. 20, The Washington Post has counted 140 such claims.

The media is not the enemy of the American people as Trump accused it of being Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. As long as journalists have constitutional protection to seek and publish the truth, the truth will be presented to the American people. Even if that constitutional protection is put in jeopardy or even revoked, journalists will persist. The Northern Star will continue to live by its slogan, “The truth must bear all light.”