Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
From a very young age, I was taught that among our most fundamental rights as Americans are free speech and press. To undermine these rights is to threaten the very fabric of democracy that this country was founded on. By attacking media outlets and labeling their content as fake news, President Trump is jeopardizing what makes us a free nation.
Trump celebrated his 100th day in office by skipping the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner to speak at a Pennsylvania rally instead. Surrounded by cheering fans, the president threw multiple jabs at the media, claiming "outlets like CNN and MSNBC are fake news" while also going after newspapers like The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
The problem here isn't that Trump dislikes the media — after all, relationships between past presidents and the media have been rooted in love and hate for many years. But Trump's blatant hostility toward the media is unprecedented. Even Richard Nixon, who had a tumultuous relationship with the press, kept his "bitterest complaints … behind closed doors." Ronald Reagan admitted exchanges between the media and the White House could get antagonistic, but eventually agreed it was a necessary relationship.
However, the issue today is that Trump is attempting to publicly discredit journalists who are searching for the truth. To ordinary people, the media is our window to the events unfolding beyond our homes. Granted, in this era of social media, we must be cautious of the information we consume. But for the highest government official in the United States to publicly and blatantly discredit core media outlets like CNN and MSNBC is dangerous.
It is our responsibility to preserve the media, because even though we consider free press a fundamental right, it is a privilege many oppressive regimes like North Korea deny their citizens. Only in free countries like the United States can people like me write negative articles about the government without being punished. By breeding distrust in the media, Trump is undermining our rights to free speech and press. That is not the vision our founding fathers created for our nation, and as long as the public keeps this in mind by consuming local news and valuing media literacy then no one — not even the president — should be able to take away our voices.
Asha Kodan is a freshman biology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.