I have a friend who voted for Donald Trump. I used to have a lot more.
I have made an exception for this man because he has been my friend for too many decades to up and quit on him just because of one misguided vote. Perhaps he feels the same way about me.
In any event, we were playing golf last week when he casually admitted to me that he liked reading the Las Vegas Sun that day because it wasn’t a newspaper full of anti-Trump stories.
I have thought about his comment a great deal over the past few days because I know what my friend — let’s call him John — meant. He thinks President Trump is doing a good job — considering he is a businessman and a novice at governing — and that he should be cut some slack by the media and all of his detractors. I have considered my friend’s position and I have decided that I can’t figure out how the Sun and other credible media could have acted differently when it comes to the president.
The media’s job is to keep the citizens informed about anything that affects their lives, their families and their country. There is no greater source of the information that impacts those lives than the workings of their government. And the president of the United States is the embodiment of our government. Therefore, what he does on behalf of this country is, by definition, news.
If we — and yes, that includes me — believe that what the president is doing has bearing on the lives of citizens and the future of the United States, we have a responsibility to speak out and to report. That responsibility is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution — the lead amendment in the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law...” respecting freedom of the press!
It doesn’t get any clearer from the mouths and pens of the Founding Fathers. A free press, an unfettered press and, yes, a press strong enough to withstand the threats of any president or his minions, is vital to a healthy democracy.
And so we do our jobs. It just so happens that President Trump says, does and tweets items that are newsworthy. The fact that most or much of what he does engenders “negative” press reporting is his fault, not that of the media. So, if people don’t like what they are reading every day they should take the matter up with the president because he is the fellow who makes the news.
I know that “John” and the large minority of Americans who voted for Donald Trump cannot personally take the matter up with him and that must be frustrating because all Americans should want to read positive news emanating from the White House. When the president does well, we all do well.
What citizen of this great country doesn’t want to read about the flaws in Obamacare, for example, being fixed by a Congress working together for the good of all Americans, instead of our president pushing a bill opposed by 87 percent of the country?
What citizen doesn’t want to see headlines and stories behind those headlines reporting that women’s rights and health care issues specific to them have been held sacrosanct by the man who leads our country, instead of reports that health care facilities for women are being closed by the men in their lives?
What citizen doesn’t want to read every day about the progress the United States is making to lead the rest of the world away from man-made climate change and toward an understanding that melting ice caps and rising sea levels are not healthy for over half of the world’s population? And who wants to read that Trump’s actions against climate science have created a massive opening for China to drive its monster coal-laden trucks through?
And what group of Americans don’t want to read that the leadership at the highest levels of government is working 100 percent for the United States without any conceivable hint that it may have been co-opted or used by foreign enemies, let’s say for example, Russia?
Of course we all want our news to reflect positive changes from a White House responsible for leading our country forward. Who in their right minds yearns for negative news?
However, in the matter of Donald Trump’s presidency, the record is replete on practically every level with decisions that cause disruption, disunity and disingenuousness. And we are only two months into his term of office.
This is not about whether news organizations agree on Trump’s politics — that fight was over last November. This is about how he governs. And from where I stand, all I see is a president interested in only part of the country he leads (the smaller part) and not the entire United States of America.
And that attitude toward the majority of Americans produces, by necessity, news that is not good. Will President Trump get to governing at some point? I hope so. I want good news too.
Whether and when that happens is almost entirely up to the man who wanted the job of leading this great country. Until he figures that out, I guess I will just have to put up with criticism from my friend.
And he will have to put up with stories that he thinks are negative but which, in the real world, are positively necessary.
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.