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The Antelope

The cornered beast: press locked out

Elliot Gonnella
By Elliot Gonnella
Antelope Staff

Freedom of press is one of the essentials of democracy Gonnella not ready to table
Despite my views often being to the left on the political spectrum, there are a few things I lean toward the right on, though always with a ‘but’ in the same sentence.

I think as a nation we should have a strong military, but we should care for the soldiers adequately, as well as their families in many social programs. I believe that we should have a powerful police force, but well educated and trained with strict accountability. I also believe that individuals who earn their wealth are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labor, but should ensure the wealth was earned in a legitimate manner and not avoid a fair tax.
I bring this up because, when it comes to politics, I am often not stuck in one corner with a straight stick up my backside, unwilling to compromise. I can give and take if, at the end of the day, it is the best deal for all parties involved.

However, there are a few beliefs I absolutely will not sacrifice and freedom of the press is one of those.

Why am I mentioning this? For some context, on Friday during the White House Press Conference, Sean Spicer barred several outlets, specifically those who have been critical of Trump like The New York Times, CNN, BBC, and Politico, from attending the press conference. He effectively shut them out of anything, hamstringing those networks when it comes to reporting any possible agenda of the new administration.

What makes this even more unpleasant was a statement made by Spicer back in December 2016, “We have respect for the press when it comes to the government, that it is something you can’t ban an entity from — conservative, liberal or otherwise. That makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship. I think there is a vastly different model when it comes to government and what should be expected, and that’s on both sides.”

The hypocrisy is so thick I could cut it with a knife.

As much as I love to bash Fox News, Breitbart and The Young Turks for having clear partisan biases spoken in a non-confrontational environment, they have the right to report news, skewed as it may be. I can bring to the table counterarguments and plenty of patience to refute their points, but I will not deny them their right to report stories. They have the freedom to do so, and if that freedom is used to slander, threaten physical harm or other actions akin to that, then they will be dealt with in a civil court.

Yet those blocked from the press conference were not calling for Trump’s orange skin to be flayed from his body nor were they writing false stories calling Trump and Pence the leaders of an underground sex ring hidden in a pizza parlor.  They wrote stories critical of him and his administration using documents, interviews and statistics to show that what was being said was different in reality. Because Trump’s feelings were hurt, members of the press were blocked from that meeting.

Simply crying fake news at these stations because you don’t like what they say, then taking a temper-tantrum approach is not only stupid, but also very disturbing. Major media outlets are filled with journalists who risk their lives, and sometimes lose them, to make sure a story that may otherwise be ignored is being told. They endure death threats, assaults and harassment for calling out unethical practices. This is what sets us apart from Russia and other dictatorships, a press that is willing to risk everything to make sure the story is told without retaliatory damage to their sources.

And Trump and Spicer have the nerve to spit on all of that from their imagined high horse and call all of it fake? Your supporters, who spit on journalists, intimidate them and make them fear for their lives and those of their families because they disagree with your preconceived notions? I have to ask, what is the color of the sky in your world? It clearly isn’t the blue I see every day.

Left or right, this is an issue that will not go away anytime soon; and if a few are blocked today, what will it look like in a month or maybe three?
I leave you with that thought and a fitting quote, as the well-known fantasy writer George R.R. Martin wrote in “A Clash of Kings”

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

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