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In the Trump era, we need to trust media, but can we?

In the Trump era, we need to trust media, but can we?

July 17th, 2017 by Cynthia Allen in Opinion Columns

Unless you were hiding under a rock for the entirety of 2016, you knew that the first year of Donald Trump's presidency was going to be rocky.

But no one could anticipate it would get quite this bad this quickly.

Just over 100 days into Donald Trump's presidency, FBI Director James Comey has been fired and allegations that before his removal, the president tried to dissuade him from continuing his investigation into the ousted National Security Advisor have dominated headlines for days.

On account of said media pressure, a special prosecutor was appointed to investigate alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

But even before his work has begun, major news organizations are publishing articles indicting the president for all manner of high crimes and misdemeanors, largely based on information from anonymous sources and interminable White House leaks.

We've heard the phrases "constitutional crisis" and "obstruction of justice" tossed around almost casually by lawmakers, who seem to show about as much interest in actually governing as the man they are criticizing.

And pundits on both sides of the political spectrum, caught up in the circus, are calling for Trump's impeachment or for the invocation of the 25th amendment, both of which could result in Trump's removal from office—what many of them have been dreaming about since his inauguration.

I would shed no tears in seeing Trump unceremoniously removed from the White House, if he were indeed guilty of actions that warranted his removal.

Even without these new accusations, he's proved himself to be untrustworthy, unfit and motivated almost solely by his own ego.

But in their unceasing attempts to destroy Trump and vindicate their own (often totally valid) opinions about him without the support of facts and evidence, so have many members of the media.

And just like Trump, their behavior has made them difficult to trust.

That is perhaps the biggest tragedy of the Trump presidency.

Like many Americans who live and work outside of the Washington beltway, the willingness of so many in the media to get ahead of the facts is all too familiar.

I recall with great clarity how media witch hunts, which began much like those we see today, ended the political careers of several members of the Bush administration, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was totally vindicated by a special prosecutor in 2010.

I worked for the Justice Department at the time and remember how readily reporters printed accusations of wrongdoing without verifying sources or seeking alternative theories, let alone checking their sources.

To this day, internet searches of the former attorney general still turn up stories filled with allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

His exoneration is barely a footnote.

So it's hard for me, even as a Trump critic, to consider reports by major news agencies with much less skepticism than I consider Trump's twitter feed.

All Americans deserve to learn the truth, no matter what it reveals.

At this point, untangling fact from fiction, free of prejudice, should be the top priority of the fourth estate.

After all, many members of the media claimed to feel a renewed sense of responsibility to accurately and comprehensively report facts and events after their collective failure to appropriately cover and analyze the 2016 election cycle.

And if things are as bad as their breathless reporting suggests, the verifiable truth will be revealed soon enough and through a thorough investigative process.

A credible media will wait for those answers before rushing to conclusions and printing speculation as fact.

And a thoughtful populace will demand it is so.

Reason's Nick Gillespie writes that if we are going to survive the Trump era, "we're going to have become smarter media consumers and demand more from both our politicians and the press."

He's correct.

In the era of Trump, that will be difficult to accomplish but more necessary than ever.

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