Every day, journalists are working on the front lines to keep our country informed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
And every day, they endure scrutiny and claims of misreporting.
The worst of these claims have come from President Donald Trump, who is renowned for berating journalists who are simply doing their jobs.
He alleges their reports are fake, biased, and corrupt whenever they portray the president in a negative light.
But the focus of journalism is not to make the president look good. Rather, it is to report the facts regarding his actions and allow the American people to decide for themselves what they think.
The focus of journalism is the truth.
While media outlets have been objectively critical of his task force’s response to the pandemic, disapproval is not an excuse for executive aggression.
Trump has gone as far as to publicly display a propaganda video showcasing a timeline of his administration’s response to COVID-19 and the “fake news” spread by media outlets.
The video claims “the media minimized the risk from the start,” but the clips it uses as evidence were cherry picked out of context.
Only clips from Fox News, the President’s preferred media outlet, were highlighted to show other news source’s dismissals of the virus’ severity during the early stages of the pandemic.
Coverage from The New York Times, CNN, The Political View, and Fox News showing governors across the country thanking the President for his response were then strategically placed to make Trump look good.
“We could give you hundreds of clips just like that,” Trump said after the video had finished. No mention of the hundreds of other clips that are critical of the President’s response were made.
He refuses to acknowledge any faults of his administration in responding to early warning signs of the virus and his actions since.
The video was shown during one of Trump’s White House press conferences, a platform he has become known to use to place blame on media outlets and name call those who write accurate articles on his poor response to the pandemic.
He wastes time trying to prove how well his administration is doing and how the media is just portraying it in a bad light instead of explaining what his task force actually plans to do as we proceed through the surge of this pandemic.
All the while, this time could have been used to share information about progress toward a vaccine, shed light on evolving COVID-19 statistics, and tell the American people what they need to do to help flatten the curve.
Instead, the briefings are being used as an outlet to attack the free press.
While it’s unlikely the President will shift his tone on news coverage that’s critical of his administration, such coverage is crucial to correcting mistakes made in the past and allowing us to find a better way forward.
The pandemic will not be solved by one individual alone, as Trump may try to make it seem. It will be the collective effort by those of all backgrounds, including journalists.
We want to thank journalists who continue to brave the President’s animosity to keep Americans informed and educated during this time.
Now, more than ever, we must work together as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19 instead of tearing one another down.
That includes the American people, our essential workers on the frontlines, and journalists.
In a time as crucial as the present, we can no longer allow ourselves to be a nation divided.
Everyone must do their part selflessly – including our President.