Columns, Opinion

American Protest: Trump continues to step on the First Amendment

President Donald Trump has consistently framed the press in a negative light, claiming it to be the “enemy of the people” and using the term “fake news” every time something that does not show him in a positive light is published.

In the past week he has made another attack on the press by suspending the White House credentials of Jim Acosta, the chief White House correspondent for CNN. When Acosta tried to re-enter the White House, a secret service officer denied him access.

What Trump did is something that has never really been done by previous presidents in modern times, which is blacklist a mainstream journalist from coverage at the White House. As a future journalist myself, this both terrifies me and offends me to the highest degree.

The reason Trump kicked Acosta out of the White House is because he aggressively questioned Trump’s claims about the caravan of migrants and then asked about possible indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Apparently, asking questions and continuing to ask them when ignored are now grounds for being thrown out of the White House and then not being allowed back in. As a journalist, aggressive questioning to get any answer is a pretty basic tactic, especially when you have someone like Trump who continues to dodge every question asked of him.

Acosta was simply trying to get an answer from the president, and in response Trump decided he could no longer have access to asking any questions at all. Trump also called him a “rude, terrible person” and said he “shouldn’t be working for CNN.”

Even worse, the Trump administration tried to claim Acosta put his hands on the intern who tried to take the microphone from him, when video footage from multiple angles shows quite clearly that nothing of the sort happened.

The same people who shoved a potential rapist onto the Supreme Court are trying to use physical and sexual assault as a way to discredit Acosta, as if they actually care about women and the constant sexual assault that they really do face every day and in the workplace.

All in all, the Trump administration has crossed a very scary line by trying to pick and choose who can and cannot be present in the White House and ask President Trump questions. Who is to say they will not do this again and just keep eliminating journalists who will not write glowing reviews about Trump.

Will the press conference room be filled with just Fox News correspondents in a few months? If Trump has his way, that could be a reality, because I am sure he has no problem lying more about other journalists and making false accusations. If Trump had to take one third of the classes I am taking to gain my bachelor’s degree, he would understand how dangerous and false his words are.

Journalists are the fourth estate in America: they are watchdogs for the rest of society, and they are integral to a functioning democracy. What Trump wants is a dictatorship that has complete control over the press and what they print.

We cannot stand for this as a society. Regardless of political alignment, no one should be comfortable with the lines that were crossed in denying journalists from the White House that Trump does not like.

We must fight back, and even sue, because this is a clear violation of the freedom of the press, and it cannot continue to happen. If we allow Trump to act like a toddler who throws a temper tantrum every time he is questioned, we allow the standard of journalism to fall and the meaning of the First Amendment to diminish.

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