In his first formal meeting as Commander in Chief with members of the intelligence community at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, President Trump made clear his relationship with the so-called ‘Fourth Branch of Government’.
“I have a running war with the media.” Trump said.
While there’s no denying the President’s penchant for dramatics, the venue he chose to make these remarks, and the audience to which he gave them, bears consideration. Speaking to a group of America’s intelligence professionals, who have historically served as the silent punching bag for the mainstream media’s ‘witch-hunt de jour,’ the President drew raucous applause after making clear he sees the media as an active participant in the political process in Washington, and not in a good way.
The events of the 2016 presidential election laid bare for all who think critically about politics and information in this country, the overwhelming bias resident in our national media. Institutions once respected for journalistic integrity like The New York Times and the Washington Post essentially flaunted their unabashed support for Hillary Clinton. Polling organizations completely missed the mark on the movement Trump had instigated, to the point of willful ignorance.
Veterans would do well to remember the lessons from the Vietnam Era. Reporters and journalists from that time openly admitted to actively trying to end the Vietnam War by leveraging their influence of information. Did that legacy suddenly end just because news anchors have now started to refer to veterans almost exclusively as ‘heroes?’
Veterans and service members should take the media’s implicit bias into consideration the next time veterans issues are trotted out through heartwarming ‘surprise homecoming’ shots, or overly dramatic PTSD stories during halftime at NFL games.
We are more robust, talented, diverse, and capable than these tropes that have been spoon-fed to the public. If the mainstream media can so readily advance a political narrative, as they did during this past election and continue to do so, veterans must be aware of any attempts to exploit their service for political gain.