Getting your “news” from social media differs greatly from getting it from established news media.
News media, if they at all value their reputations, must verify the information they’re getting. Rumor doesn’t make it. A person saying, “What I heard is ...” isn’t close.
A reliable source is someone who not only claims to know, but is in a position to know and has established trust with the media. And, if possible, verifying the information from a second reliable source is preferable and is routinely attempted before releasing it to the public. Social media doesn’t do this, and neither does the so-called “tabloid media.”
A person who blasts reliable news sources as fake when they prove him wrong on an issue, or when it reveals his self-contradictions or his ignorance, or whenever he simply doesn’t like it, is denying reality. The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and NBC are established news media with reputations to protect, and they do so. When they err, they publish the fact that they erred, and they correct it. This, along with the First Amendment, has established them as American institutions.
When President Trump attempts to brand these institutions as “enemies of the people,” he tells us far more about himself than he does them. When — as he did regarding the Charlottesville incident — he states one opinion on Saturday, says the opposite on Monday, returns to his original statement on Tuesday, and then on Thursday denies any contradictions at all, he marks his own statements as unreliable — even as to his opinions. He has repeatedly, virtually daily, made misrepresentations to the American people. The Washington Post publishes a running report on Trump’s spoken and tweeted falsehoods, which to date tally more than 4,000, just since becoming president.
We must remember that Trump owes his election to the Electoral College, itself an American institution he has attacked as being biased toward Democrats — an absurd contention. Trump was not “elected by the American people.” The American people rejected him. He did not receive even a plurality of their votes, much less a majority.
Apart from our free press and the Electoral College, Trump has attacked the judicial branch of our government, our military and civilian intelligence communities, his own Department of Justice, the FBI — and even the NFL. Of course, he enjoys freedom of speech, but when he uses it to attack these established and treasured American institutions, he attacks our American way of life.
We must not accept that Trump’s “enemies of the people” declarations have done permanent injury to our executive branch. We must hope that our next president — Republican or Democrat — can reverse Trump’s recklessness and can restore our now badly damaged American institution of the presidency.
Co-publisher and general counsel