OPINION: America’s greatest problem is ourselves

India Kirssin | Managing Editor

What is the biggest problem facing America?

It’s a loaded question, right? The answers and opinions associated with this question are the source of some of the most vicious contempt in our country today. Everyone answers it a little bit differently, and not one person will answer it in the exact same way.

I was asked this question at a recent college interview and, quite honestly, I had to really think about what I wanted my answer to be. The answer needed to be specific and pinpoint a reason, but also broad enough to explain a multitude of problems. It also had to be reliable and play to my strengths. No matter how many opinions I have on the Republican plan for healthcare or on ObamaCare, I cannot talk about those because healthcare is a topic in which I am not extremely knowledgeable. So I talked about the media.

Specifically, I talked about the relationship between the media, the White House, and the people, because it’s changing quickly and it’s hard to keep up. With the terms “fake news” and “liberal media” becoming a part of everyday vocabulary, many Americans, including Donald Trump, have come to understand and accept that a rocky, untrustworthy relationship with the media is the “new normal.”

Many Americans trust Trump more than credible news outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post. They are, in the words of our president, “The FAKE NEWS… the enemy of the American People!” Facts supported by evidence are no longer viewed as the truth and correct grammar is not a top priority. SAD!

When I chose to talk about this on-again, off-again relationship, it was not to rag on Trump or to put the news on a pedestal it does not deserve. It was to address the uncertainty and mistrust felt within our country and countries around the world who are not sure what to make of Trump, or this “new” America yet. Bridging the gap between the White House, the media and the people is not going to fix the serious flaws our government has. It is not going to change if a person likes or dislikes Trump’s policies. But I truly believe it can help ease the uncertainty, the fear of the unknown. It can help Americans feel more secure. It can help the Trump administration project a more cohesive image to the public. And, as common sense tells us, good public image can go a long way.

I also talked about how this is not a one-sided problem. Most mainstream news sources have been very critical of Trump. They have bitten into the stories Trump has baited them to. They have taken small, stupid, insignificant events and blown them out of proportion. As a journalist, this has been frustrating and hard to watch. But they are not an enemy of the American people. In some cases, the press is the only reason we have any idea what is going on in the White House or have any hope at understanding the truth.

On the other side, Trump and top Republicans use conservative news sites, like Breitbart, that are the holy grail of fake news. Then they cite or tweet stories from these sites with absolutely no evidence to back them up, perpetuating the spread of fake news themselves. But what’s a government without hypocrisy? Trump has also blatantly disrespected reporters, complained about “hard questions” that anyone with any knowledge about public relations and government could give a competent answer to, and made a mockery of the White House press corps.  

This is the greatest problem facing America today. It is not only setting a dangerous precedent and example for future press, public, politician relationships, but it is setting us down and slippery slope that must be corrected before we slide too far. Both sides need to reflect, calm down and ask themselves if they are doing their jobs and interacting with each other in the professional way they should be. This will never happen but one can hope.

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