Importance of the Media: Alternative Facts

The media plays a very important role of the way news is spread around the country
The media plays a very important role of the way news is spread around the country
Courtesy of Google Images

Americans should not take the media for granted, especially now that Trump is in office. During his campaign and now his Presidency, Trump has attacked certain news stations, most specifically CNN, calling them distrustful and liars. Recently, Trump, his cabinet and his supporters have adopted the term “fake news” to discredit his critics. Trump’s war against the media has created a split between those who trust the media and those who think it is bias. Many people are concerned that Trump will attempt to censor, or disallow journalists from reporting factual information during his time as president.

In a recent interview on the Cable News Network (CNN), Kellyanne Conway used a phrase that caught many Americans’ attention, “alternative facts.” Conway was the former Campaign Manager for Donald Trump and is now his current counselor. Conway’s interview centered around White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, who addressed the attendance of Trump’s inauguration. Spicer’s facts were different from those that CNN had received, Spicer said that Trump’s inauguration drew large numbers, over 1.5 million while CNN’s evidence suggested that the number of attendees was significantly lower. In response to this, Conway said that Spicer had provided “alternative facts.” Following this statement, many CNN commentators have made connections between “alternative facts” and “doublethink” from George Orwell’s book, 1984.

Orwell’s book is about a dystopian society in which every citizen’s life is controlled and observed by the government. The government also uses constant propaganda and gives its citizens false information to make them feel like everything is going well. Many feel that alternative facts are equivalent to the 1984 quote, “two plus two equals five.” This refers to the phenomenon of the government forcing lies upon its citizens to such an extent that they will eventually begin to believe it. Others feel as though Trump is using 1984 techniques such as “doublethink” and “doublespeak.” Doublethink is believing that two contrary ideas are both true. Doublespeak is the use of euphemisms to make people think that an object or act is not as bad as it actually is. The 2016 word of the year was “post-truth”, which is when public opinion is more heavily shaped by emotion rather than actual facts. Many believe that the correlation between post-truth and alternative facts is that Trump and his administration are no longer using actual facts, but instead they say anything that portrays them in a positive light. People fear that Trump will continue to use alternative facts to mislead the public. Spicer and Conway’s alternative facts were easily disproved, but in the future it might not be so obvious to tell the difference between the truth and falsehood.

The role of the media is essential, as its main purpose is to report any news that seems significant for the public to know. Television news shows, newspapers, books and social media are all common ways people get information every day. The media is responsible for providing news about regional, national and international news to the public, so it is crucial that accurate information is reported so that the people are correctly informed. Informed citizens are essential in democracies because they are imperative in holding the government accountable for its actions. Many countries like China and North Korea censor their media, making it hard for people to know what is really going on in their countries. In America, journalists are lucky to be able to report about nearly anything.

Trump and his team are not on good terms with the media and it is likely that they will continue to have disagreements that will only deepen the divide that has been created. It is essential for news stations and social media accounts to report accurate, unbiased information, because having well informed citizens is one of the most important aspects of a successful democracy.

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