Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

The Threatened First Amendment


Sufficed to say, Donald Trump has begun what will definitely be one of the most unorthodox presidencies in U.S. history.
Explosive Tweets, baseless claims, and the media’s new monicker of “fake news” are just a few of things illustrating President Trump’s unprofessional and antagonistic administration.
Multiple members of the administration and President Trump himself have been confronted about their “alternative facts” with fact checks from various news outlets. Of course, these actions have not been received well from Trump, earning many news stations the label of “fake news.”
With such blatant friction between Trump and the press, the ongoing rift between President Trump and the press raises questions and exposes harsh messages about the state of freedom of speech in the U.S.
Freedom of speech is one of five promises found in the First Amendment. Being the first, this amendment was clearly a priority for the forefathers. The promises made in the First Amendment were obviously of great import, and they were meant to be maintained throughout the course of this country’s history.
That was all just a pipe dream, unfortunately.
Freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, and protest have been denied, challenged, and upheld in various different ways and at various different points in the history of this country.
However, Trump’s “war on the press” is only the start of a new wave of attacks on the First Amendment—and the truth.
On multiple occasions, President Trump has attacked the media on the pretext of their biased and “dishonest” reporting. What Trump fails to realize, however is that this seemingly biased reporting is actually composed of valid facts. Members of the press are committed to reporting the truth to their viewers, so when it is presented with the Trump administration’s “alternative facts,” of course it will move to fact check and refute preposterous claims.
Though referring to news outlets as “fake news” is not denying freedom of the press, it is showing disrespect towards the clause, and that has a greater effect than President Trump understands. Perhaps Trump hasn’t registered the fact that as a world leader, he is being watched by the entire world; and the implications of such blatant disrespect for media outlets are detrimental for the state of the First Amendment in the U.S.
If the president can easily disregard one part of the First Amendment, who’s to say that other clauses within the amendment can’t be disregarded as well?
Take for instance Freedom of Speech, which has been this country’s greatest promise. With the president trying to suppress the media with harsh claims, it seems free speech is only permitted if the speech itself is something on board with the president’s opinions.
Such an Orwellian dynamic destroys the notion of freedom of speech, and continues to deteriorate the fundamentals of the First Amendment.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any signs of reconciliation and understanding between Trump and the media in the near future. This incredible public feud with the media leads to terrifying paradox from the Trump administration: the First Amendment promises freedoms one can use to suppress the freedoms of others.
This message has clearly been received as there have accounts of mosques being burned down, innocent men being killed due to their ethnicity, and even a Jewish cemetery being destroyed. Clearly President Trump’s words and actions have ignited various controversial and harrowing events, and Trump has yet to realize that fact.
The role of president goes beyond signing bills and holding the launch codes. If President Trump wants to be successful in office and with his constituents, he has to understand that his actions send bigger—and often times more damning—messages to the other members of his administration and to his supporters.
As someone who expects to be treated with high regard, President Trump should do the same for this country and its people, and that means not only upholding but also respecting the First Amendment.
By attacking elements of the First Amendment, President Trump is creating more chaos in his administration and amongst the people. If both the president and the media is at each other’s throats about the state of this country, there is no way the people can truly understand what is happening in the U.S.
The First Amendment is being disregarded by the current political climate. As that clouds judgement, continues to marginalize certain groups, and hides the truth of aspects of the presidency, the country is rapidly distancing itself from the dreams of the forefathers regarding a stable country and a stable Constitution.

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The Threatened First Amendment