Trump-media warfare weakens US political authority

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/27 1:08:39

Conflicts between President Donald Trump and the mainstream US media are escalating into warfare. On Friday, the White House blocked a number of influential media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC and the Huffington Post from a press briefing. It was considered Trump's attempt to punish news outlets that are against him, but is a violation of freedom of speech. 

Trump later announced on Twitter that he would break with tradition and skip the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April. Such tension between the president and mainstream media is unprecedented in US history. Solely blaming Trump or the media seems to be too simple.

The US political system has enabled media to play a bigger role in the US than in other countries. But now there is something wrong with the mechanism in which the media is functioning. Trump is abusing the power of his office granted by the US Constitution, while the media is launching unruly attacks on Trump.   

Trump is bold enough to offend a number of mainstream media outlets at the same time largely because the power of the mainstream media has been greatly diluted in the Internet era. The media outlets that collectively badmouthed him during the presidential campaign failed to make him lose the race, instead, he defeated media favorite Hillary Clinton. As a consequence, Trump has no fear of these media. 

US political authority is decentralized. The intensifying conflicts between an eccentric president and self-proclaimed moral media outlets have further weakened US political authority. If the situation lasts, the decision-making capability of US society will further decline, which is obviously not the nature of democracy.

Who will be the final victor, Trump or the mainstream media? It's hard to answer this question. But it is certain that whoever wins, such inner conflicts will bring a strong impact to the US public, with unforeseen consequences.

If Trump wins over the "rebellious" mainstream media, US freedom of the press will be greatly damaged and the traditional relationship among varied political elements will veer off balance. Conversely, Trump may be forced to step down, becoming the first president who doesn't seriously violate the law but is ousted from office by public opinion. He will serve as a warning to his reformist successors. 

Trump deems himself a great reformer, but the mainstream media has become his greatest opposition. Currently, international public opinion sympathizes with the US mainstream media, because Trump has made too many enemies both at home and abroad. His political motives for reform have drawn suspicions and his governance style is accused of being tactless.

Who can win more support from the US public is important in the next step. The situation now is not in Trump's favor. More people tend to believe the media and the readership and viewing figures of anti-Trump mainstream media outlets have grown month-by-month. The conflict is far from over. By observing the war between Trump and the media, we can better understand the US system, but we shouldn't take sides. The US is a whole, no matter how divided it is, and this won't affect the Sino-US relationship.


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