Resources for Teachers and Students
FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 05, 2016
Donald Trump’s media criticisms and provocative tweets push journalists to explore different coverage
Find something Trump says or tweets this week and share your reaction.
Closely examine a few news articles and headlines about the incoming president. Do any words or descriptions (not in quotes) support his claim of bias?
Look for an editorial, opinion column or reader letter about the president-elect and share an excerpt.
The Republican who moves into the White House on Jan. 20 has a distinctly different style of public communication and media relations than earlier presidents. Donald Trump continues tweeting his views frankly and frequently, including swipes at critics (including "Saturday Night Live") and at news media coverage. A stir arose last week when he a tweeted a suggestion "there must be consequences" for flag-burning – "perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!" Other post-election comments, particularly a tweet claiming “millions of people . . . voted illegally," provoke discussion among journalists about how – or whether – to share his unsupported claims.
The New York Times framed the issue last week: "Should news outlets, as some readers argue, ignore clearly untrue tweets, rather than amplify falsehoods further?" At Politico, a popular news site based near Washington, D.C., editor Carrie Brown says: "This is the way he's communicating with millions upon millions of people, and as journalists we can’t ignore that." An opposite view comes from New York historian Fred Kaplan, a presidential biographer: "It's time to ignore his tweets."
The political newcomer met in late November with network TV executives and anchors at Trump Tower in Manhattan (video below), where he reportedly rebuked them for "outrageous" and "dishonest" coverage of his candidacy. He was more restrained a week later at The New York Times, which he had attacked repeatedly during the campaign. Presidents' relations with those covering them are often strained, but media experts say Trump's blasts against reporters — the "lowest form of humanity," he said at rallies — are something else. Cristianne Amanpour, who has reported extensively from Europe and the Middle East for CNN, says Trump's language is worryingly similar to that of non-democratic leaders in lands where journalists are routinely demonized and even jailed.
At The Washington Post, media columnist Margaret Sullivan writes last week that America's incoming leader "requires vastly different coverage." She adds: "Trump's use of the mainstream media as his favorite punching bag is only going to increase. That means that his most fervent followers are going to hate traditional journalists, especially those from outlets in New York City and Washington. . . . But the journalistic mission — holding the powerful accountable — remains crucially important. Maybe more than ever."
Trump aide says: "President-elect Trump has amassed an incredible social media following, one he used very effectively throughout the campaign to communicate his message. He intends to continue utilizing this modern form of communication, while taking into account that his new role and responsibilities may call for modified usage." – Hope Hicks, spokeswoman
CNN reporter says: "I never thought I would be up on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home." – Christiane Amanpour, chief international correspondent, after New York speech to the Committee to Protect Journalists
Blogger says: "Reporters have never been popular, and reporters will have to face our fate that we're going to be less popular over the next four years." – Jack Shafer, media columnist at Politico.com
Front Page Talking Points Archive
Lessons & Classroom Activities
Resources by grade level
Online Reference Guides