A firing squad.
The expression has been used to describe an unusual meeting this week in New York. Donald Trump invited a few dozen journalists and executives from the big American networks. He blasted them.
“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong’,” the New York Post reported.
In short, nothing has changed and nothing is the same. Let’s remember that over the course of the campaign, Trump’s bellicose tirades against the media multiplied. He revoked the accreditation of some journalists. He has even threatened to “toughen libel laws.”
That said, it is worrying to see that, even since being elected, Trump is pursuing his criticism of the media with a renewed zeal.
One piece of good news: He consented to answer questions from The New York Times on Tuesday. And though he ended up praising the prestigious newspaper, he had first announced that he would not participate in the meeting, claiming on Twitter that the paper continues to cover him “inaccurately and with a nasty tone.”
We note elsewhere that in spite of tradition, the president-elect has not yet held an official press conference.
American journalists are thus worried, not without reason, about the access they will receive once Trump replaces Barack Obama.
Two important things must be said and repeated about the manner in which the Republican politician demonizes the media.
First, his critiques do not correspond to reality. Several media outlets gave his candidacy a serious boost, particularly the digital media, which have long circulated his speeches in their entirety, the equivalent of $5.2 billion in free advertising, estimated a study by the firm mediaQuant.
Second, Donald Trump pretends to have not understood the role of journalists. Does he maybe need to be reminded? “Our job is not to please, nor to harm, it is to carry our plume into the wound,” the French reporter Albert Londres once said.
Roughly translated, this means the journalist is there to look for boo-boos. He is also there to poke them.
And the fact of the matter is that Trump, a candidate outside all norms who often brazenly lies, has a lot of wounds. Both small and large. And he tries to hide them.
Of course, you have to show healthy skepticism about the media, but above all you have to be wary of those who dream of getting rid of them and try to reduce their influence.
The Trump strategy? If you want to put your dog down, you say he has rabies. Trump and the Republicans will soon control the White House, as well as the two houses of Congress. The work of American journalists will not be easy. It might even by harrowing. But it is of utmost importance.