Donald Trump is about to be the president of the United States and this terrifying reality was foreshadowed by his horrific press conference on Wednesday, January 11th. Besides the repetitive stuttering that Mr. Trump stumbled through during his press conference, he and America at large are going to have to deal with the headache of his latest — and potentially most damning — controversy since he was caught bragging on audio about him having groped women in the past. Of course, this is the recent news released that he and President Barack Obama were briefed by national security agents in regards to a dossier that was compiled by a former British spy on the president-elect.
In the dossier, there are pages of documents detailing accounts Trump had with prostitutes, real estate deals that were intended as bribes along with co-ordination with Russian intelligence to hack the Democrats. While the documents are currently unsubstantiated, with Christopher Steele — the former M16 officer behind the dossier — going into hiding, the possibility of it being verified could be extremely damning for Trump and potentially even job-altering.
You have to hand it to Mr. Trump. though. While Obama likely would have handled the situation with a politicized, well-rehearsed answer both denying his involvement with such allegations, essentially talking while saying nothing, Trump stayed true to his personal style. While attempting to ask Trump a question, CNN reporter Jim Acosta was denied the opportunity by the president-elect who called Acosta’s network, “Fake News.” Acosta attempted to ask a question again and was informed by incoming press secretary Sean Spicer that if he continued, he would be thrown out of the press conference.
As a journalist and a member of a neighbouring democracy, this is a bit concerning. How can and should the president be able to throw out a reporter because he doesn’t like the question he’s about to ask? Still, he took it one step further saying that he formerly held numerous press conferences during his work with his company but, “we stopped giving them because we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news.”
In other words, Trump admits to having stopped holding press conferences because of the “fake news” that he alleged was being produced. With all due respect to Mr. Trump and his future presidency, that’s just not how democracy works when you’re sitting in the most powerful chair in the country. When a report is released by what appears to be a reputable source— reputable enough that U.S. national intelligence agencies had to brief him about it — it’s a journalist’s right and borderline obligation to ask him about it.
A journalist’s job is to hold those in power accountable for their actions — both good and bad — and keep the public informed. When Trump denied Costa’s question and nearly had him kicked out, that duty was taken away.
Further, the possibility of Trump stopping his press conferences over what he deems inaccurate news should scare a bulk of the electorate and the world at large. In a dying world for the media industry, press conferences are one of the only ways for the public to see its president speak and learn more about what is happening in the Oval Office. Without them, the stream of information from the government to the public dies and Trump is able to determine the accuracy of the news for himself.
Really, that’s what the public needs to look for in the future. Donald Trump as a president can be a scary proposition. Donald Trump as a president not being held accountable? Now that’s a disaster.