Weekly News Comment #1

President Trump’s response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia resulted in public shock and anger after the President cited “both sides” as being equally responsible for the violence that occurred there. While some may accept the President’s noncommittal summary of the events as fact, many political commentators and news presenters were appalled and deeply offended by Trump’s apparent refusal to condemn the rally and his claims that the white supremacist groups that staged the rally and those groups that opposed them both contained “many good people” in their number.

An important question, one raised by a recent Vox publication, is how journalists and news corporations should deal with what they may consider to be a deeply immoral president, one who appears to condone or possibly subscribe to inflammatory and racist ideologies that contradict fundamental values of this country. Should things go back to the status quo, of journalists practicing restrained objectivity and political commentators entertaining both sides of the political spectrum on their programs, or should these people use the power afforded to them by the media and take a moral stance against the President, holding him accountable for the statements he’s made and not simply letting it slide as yet another controversy?

Any person, regardless of their occupation or political situation, has the moral obligation to protest any perceived injustices or abuses of power. Whether these comments are an injustice depends on individual perception, but as evidenced by their reactions to the President’s statements many people feel that the President has lost the moral authority usually associated with his office. This is not to say, however, that the fundamental principles of journalism should be thrown out as soon as an immoral President steps into office, as to do so would threaten the reputation of the media entirely and potentially set precedent for future abuse. If a journalist, or political commentator, or news broadcaster, or anyone else employed in the media disagrees with the president on a moral level, they should voice their opinions and their reasoning, but should not use their position within the media as a weapon against perceived injustice or otherwise sacrifice their journalistic integrity in the process. A journalist’s duty lies first and foremost with publishing accurate information, and while morality should also be considered wherever possible, it should not supersede their commitment to honesty.

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