North Texas Daily

Trump’s journey to silence the media

Trump’s journey to silence the media

Trump’s journey to silence the media
January 26
13:16 2017

The Editorial Board

President Trump and his administration ordered a freeze on new contracts and grants from the Environmental Protection Agency this week. According to The Associated Press, this action has “raised fears” that states and select recipients could lose funding for water protection and waste management among other issues.

Additionally, Trump himself has banned the EPA from issuing press releases, blog entries and social media posts. Not to mention that an anonymous source from Trump’s transition team told The Hill that Trump plans to terminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and seize control of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

This is especially alarming since the CPB, according to The Independent, helps fund National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service and the nation’s “approximately 350 public television stations.”

We’ve reported and editorialized about Trump’s war on “fake news” plenty of times until now, but imagining life without two of the media’s biggest titans – NPR and PBS – is a more disturbing thought than ever before.

Over 10 years ago, a survey commissioned by the Public Relations Society of America found that 61 percent of the general public trusted NPR and PBS the most for news, and much more than the likes of “The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or New York Times.”

Just last year, NPR’s flagship programs “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition” reached audience highs of 13.3 million per week and 13.5 million per week respectively. As of October, NPR maintains a total of 36.6 million listeners, proving to be a formative news source for many people who don’t subscribe to newsprint.

Considering its reputation as “America’s largest classroom,” PBS is broadcasted in 82 percent of American households and watched by roughly 200 million people. According to Nielsen data compiled from September 2015 to September 2016, the service’s viewer base is much larger than A&E, TLC, Bravo, the Discovery Channel and HGTV.

Even if robbing the American populace of trusted news wasn’t one of Trump’s mandates, it’s still unethical for the new commander-in-chief to “repeal and replace” these outlets with his own false rhetoric. Not only does this send a negative precedent for the next age of Republicans, it has created a wide distrust of the media amongst citizens which doesn’t need to be there.

In regards to previous Republican presidents, Richard Nixon threatened to eliminate a $20 million grant to PBS back in 1969. Coming to the service’s rescue was Fred Rogers of the classic “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” who argued against Nixon’s threat at a Senate hearing that year.

In a moving monologue, Rogers expressed how he was “constantly concerned about what [America’s] children” see and that PBS is responsible for giving kids “an expression of care everyday.” Therefore, the fight to cut PBS subsidies has gone on for decades, but right now isn’t the time for that to happen. Nor should it happen to any other reputable news source.

Trump’s unprincipled journey in silencing the media needs to end for the sake of journalists and private citizens. While it’s highly unlikely he can even cut funding for either outlet, trying to mediate the press is a thorn in the side of First Amendment enthusiasts everywhere.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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