Muhammad Ali Baig
What made U.S. President Donald Trump to say that ‘No politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly than him’? Have American media been portraying Trump in the right manner? Isn’t it true that the electronic, print and the social media have gone a bit too far? Has the positive criticism been taken over by propaganda, cynicism and agenda setting? Is it true that U.S. President is paying the price for breaking the status-quo? The U.S. Presidential Elections in November 2016 and its aftermath have seen an unparalleled and unmatched series of attacks on the personal and official life of President Trump.A study conducted by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School in May 2017, revealed some astonishing results. The study analysed The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post in print media. It also took American news channels such as CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC along with three European media houses including Britain’s BBC and The Financial Times and Germany’s ARD. The results were astonishing, since, in the combined air-time Trump talked for 65% and was the main topic of almost 41% of all news stories. The report also highlighted that, during Trump’s ‘First 100 Days’ the overall tone of the news coverage was 80% negative – the highest any U.S. President ever received. Only Fox News – being a sympathizer of the Republican Party, portrayed Trump in a relatively positive manner with positivity being 48%.
The most interesting yet dangerous campaign has been underway by NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’. Trump being represented by actor Alec Baldwin has crossed the line of comedy and satire yet it has taken the shape of an organized and symmetrical propaganda machine. Trump’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ has been replaced by ‘Make America Drunk Again’. Similarly, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, is mocked by actress Melissa McCarthy in an offensive style.
An Australian magazine ‘Security Solutions’ in its February 2017 issue, displayed Trump on the title page while he was having a red arm-band just like Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party used to wear. The only difference between Hitler’s and Trump’s arm bands was that the former had a swastika and the latter had the Seal of the President of the United States on it. Again, German political magazine Der Spiegel; portrayed Trump on the title of its February 2017 issue holding the chopped-off head of the Columbia (Statue of Liberty). Similarly, The Atlantic’s March 2017 issue published story by the title of “How to build an Autocracy”?
The American Media may call President Donald Trump as immoral or even an idiotic person but there must be some difference between criticism and sarcasm. Trump is determined and will prove his critics wrong – no matter what it takes. Not just him, but almost every member of his administration has been subjected to media bias. Just after the Presidential inauguration, the administration’s claim regarding the number of attendees in Trump’s Oath Ceremony was bitterly bitten-off by the media. The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer while defending the administration’s stance was mocked in a never-before insulting manner. Jeff Stein of Newsweek, a renowned political commentator, in its June 2017 issue, has termed the Trump Era as ‘the new abnormal’. The story also implicitly and explicitly implied that President Trump is a ‘Russian Accomplice’. Though, Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey was its constitutional discretion, but this incident seems a bit sceptical due to the nature of its timing. But again, the media has out blown it by comparing it to President Nixon’s ‘Water Gate Scandal’ that led to his impeachment, resignation and subsequent pardon by his successor Gerald Ford. Some have even said that it would be far deeper than the former.
Ostensibly, there is no doubt that Trump reflects a majority of Americans. The nationalistic or perhaps ultra-nationalistic thoughts and beliefs while breaking status-quo are among the chief reasons for him being the victim. President Trump has to understand that in his pursuit of ‘Make America Great Again’ he has confronted the ‘Four Freedoms’ of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The allegations by the American media, however, concludes that Trump is a criminal who jeopardized the national security of the United States by inviting Russians to interfere in American politics and he also ‘leaked’ sensitive intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister regarding Syria. All these stories and accusations make sense, but Trump been passed successfully under the strict radar of the media during his campaign and after becoming President-Elect – doesn’t it reflect badly the scrutinizing abilities and credibility of the entire American media?
Muhammad Ali Baig