By Evan Myers | Editor-in-Chief
A couple of weeks ago many of you likely saw some shocking and disturbing rumors circulating around social media regarding our current president and his involvement with a number of Russian foreign nationals. Among these allegations were bold claims suggesting not only that President Trump’s actions and policy positions were influenced by the Russian government, but that he was being outright controlled by them. The internet news site that published this dangerous dossier containing potentially compromising information was none other than BuzzFeed.
Ah, yes. Buzzfeed. The modern pinnacle of excellence in the world of fact-based investigative journalism…apparently?
Not long afterward, CNN caught wind of the source and immediately began yammering on about the evidence purportedly investigated by Buzzfeed’s “journalists”—and I use that word quite loosely. There was only one problem: The allegations were instantly and thoroughly debunked once they came under scrutiny by professionals who actually care about journalistic integrity. The attacks against president Trump immediately fell short.
You see, these “uncovered” documents that Buzzfeed editor Benjamin Smith got a hold of contained nothing but rumors. The intelligence report contained zero factual evidence, but that apparently didn’t matter to the Buzzfeed staff, who went ahead and published the article anyway. You see, openly liberal organizations like Buzzfeed hate Donald Trump with such vigor, that the opportunity to even potentially damage his reputation and public image beyond repair proved to be something that they just couldn’t pass up. For Buzzfeed, taking down Trump and everything he stands for is a far more important goal than reporting with truth and integrity. They put their politics before their ethics, which ought to be considered universally deplorable for any media professional.
CNN is guilty of the same offense. Shortly after the scandal reached the ears of the mainstream media, their staff got a little overexcited with all this potential for juicy information. When a CNN reporter tried to field a question to Trump during the first press conference he held before his election, the president called their network out specifically.
“Your organization is terrible,” Trump told them. “You’re fake news.”
Now this was a blunt and even disrespectful remark for Trump to make. As the incoming president, he needs to understand that regard for the First Amendment requires public officials to treat the press with a certain standard of respect. The president of the United States is called to be a model citizen who treats his fellow Americans with fairness. Even if the organization is tremendously biased, legitimate questions should be met with legitimate answers. But you see, legitimate is the key word here.
So yes, on the one hand, Trump reacted to the situation inappropriately. But on the other hand, man it felt good to watch CNN get put in its place. The often blatantly left-leaning organization got shut down in the middle of a national press conference, receiving some well-deserved public embarrassment as they momentarily let their true colors show.
This whole debacle should teach a crucial lesson to both creators and consumers of news. Accountability matters. Just as a newsman has a responsibility to report accurately, the person watching the news has an equally important responsibility to be wary of media bias.
The Purdue Review is not trying to write a love letter to Donald Trump. Regardless of Trump’s political actions or beliefs, one fundamental truth needs to be understood: A democratic society cannot have genuine liberty without a free and ethical press. The media maintaining their reputation as America’s fourth estate is vital for our nation to function as it was intended to. It is the sacred mission of the press to keep the government held accountable for its actions, but today’s fake news epidemic has proven that in order for that to happen, the press needs to be held accountable themselves. This rule applies as strictly to the National Review as it does to the Huffington Post.
A well-informed populace is a cornerstone of any democratic society. In the coming years while Trump is in office, wise individuals will consume their news carefully. Rather than regurgitating information from news sources that only serve to function as online echo chambers for their individual ideologies, they will craft their own opinions from trusted, valuable sources. They will think for themselves.
Oh, and before I finish here, for those of you who work at BuzzFeed? I think I speak on behalf of the majority of the world’s self-respecting journalists when I say that it’d probably be best if you guys just stick to making those cute little YouTube videos about “Americans Trying Korean Snacks” and Facebook quizzes titled “What Ice Cream Describes Your Soul?” Just a recommendation.