During his address at the NATO HQ in Brussels on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence made reassurances that President Donald Trump is in favour of a free and independent press. He stated, “Rest assured the president and I both strongly support a free and independent press but you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when they play fast and loose with the facts.” Pence’s remarks seem like a meager attempt of “damage limitation” in global reaction to the President’s on-going “battle” with the press. Most notably being the Press Conference last week where he blasted the media, calling them “fake” and “dishonest”. And let’s not forget his infamous exchange with CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta, “I’m changing it from fake news, though. Very fake news”.
The Vice President continued on to say, “When the media gets it wrong, President Trump will take his case straight to the American people to set the record straight.” This seems like a fair statement made by the Vice President, however the reality is somewhat different. During the President’s first month in office, the Trump administration has been the source of numerous falsehoods. Particularly, the “Bowling Green Massacre” in Kentucky, a supposed attack in Atlanta, and most recently, a terror attack that allegedly took place in Sweden. These attacks highlighted by the White House did not happen and left the whole World puzzled. On contrary to the Vice President’s statement, it was the media that put the record straight on the Trump administration. Not the other way around.
President Trump’s rhetoric against the press isn’t just making the headlines, it is also giving notable GOP members the jitters. On Sunday, Republican Senator John McCain stated on Sunday that “I’m very serious now, if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press.”
These are very strange times. The World is living in a time when political parties are not fighting against one another over policy, but individual parties fighting against the media. And the result of this is that the line between “real news” and “fake news” has become obscured and leaves more questions than answers.
Vice President Pence’s statement on Trump supporting a free and independent press was a way for him to sooth relations between the White House and the Media, however it is only a matter of time before his reassurances pale into insignificance after the next Donald Trump tweet.