The New Administration and the Press

It was revealed in the Times that numerous journalists were prohibited from entering the most recent press briefing held yesterday. Not all reporters, however, were restricted; publications with conservative leanings were allowed in, as well as some closer to center, while left-leaning publications were excluded. In an act of protest, reporters from the AP and Time magazine elected not to attend the briefing.

This action stands out from the actions of predecessors, who have never gone so far as to select certain news organizations – particularly those who offer similar views – that are given access to information intended to be delivered to the public.

While this decision represents a stray from the precedent, it is very reflective of the general attitudes of the new presidential administration and the lack of trust it promotes towards the media. Accusations made by the president regarding “fake news” in various publications have established that the administration views the press as a target of opposition.

The consequences of such cynical perceptions towards the media may prove to be disastrous.

By excluding reporters from press briefings, the new government is tearing away at the transparency between public and public officials that supposedly exists in a democracy. The inner-workings of bureaucratic functions can better be kept secret without the influence of the press, allowing for more authoritative control. The confirmation bias created when only certain publications are privy to such operations further allows the administration to gain control, as reporters will have a greater incentive to produce stories which align with the president’s objectives and views.

The intimidation created through these actions will most likely cause a severe change in strategy regarding how the press operates and how stories are perceived. While some publications will remain steadfast in their attempt to cover what they see fit, regardless of executive threats and accusations, some will inevitably succumb to the pressures and begin censoring their content.

Censorship of the press is not only the antithesis of the values upheld by the First Amendment, but also serves as a hallmark of totalitarian regimes.

The views promoted by the actions of the new administration in the first month alone have prompted a new reason for concern and have granted validation for many of the fears expressed during the campaign. While past administrations can by no means be considered entirely transparent, the recent threats that have been made towards the protection of civil liberties pose a serious concern for all citizens along the political spectrum.

 

 

 

Privilege and Politics: A Commentary on the “Liberal Education Bubble”

I am tired of the insipid criticisms made against liberal education and the creation of soft, powerless young people who seek to shelter themselves from the real world.

This narrative is superficial at best and fails to understand the true underpinnings of why recent movements have held such vast appeal with millennials, a group that has simultaneously been deemed the brightest generation yet.

Often used to belittle attempts to achieve social justice on campus – such as the integration of safe spaces and gender neutral restrooms – the phrase “liberal education bubble” has arisen in many discussions centered on the perceived dangers of the liberal agenda and the brainwashing of the country’s youth. While I cannot speak on behalf of the entire liberal side of the political spectrum, I feel the necessity to clarify the reasoning behind some popular movements across universities nationwide, as well as to defend why young people are not any more brainwashed than their elders.

We have grown up in a world that is more diverse, integrated, and interconnected than any generation before, and this is likely to be the case for those who follow us. As such, we have had the ability to interact and connect with people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, while keeping in mind the histories of many segments of the American population, which for many marginalized groups have been dominated by oppression and institutionalized prejudices. This awareness, and the continued promotion of it, have led us to prioritize empathy and compassion as primary objectives to be implemented not only at an interpersonal level but up the chain, changing norms within our ideologies and institutions.

The recognition of one’s privilege, whether in terms of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, involves an understanding of how in many cases, daily life is structured with certain norms in mind that you have been able to benefit from. This understanding can then take one of two forms: an acceptance of the rules that efficiently organize society, or a sense of responsibility to advocate for those who fall outside the majority and lack certain privileges. The latter impulse has served as the catalyst for attempts at inclusion and movements which strive to correct inequalities created by euro-centrism and white supremacy, the patriarchy and the gender binary.

I am hesitant to believe that this is the result of brainwashing, but rather a reaction to the acknowledgement that inequalities have existed for all of history and continue to impact the realities of people whose identities differ from the norm. The accusation that movements that prioritize inclusion are reflective of indoctrination fails to acknowledge the reverse, that the detection of “tunnel vision” also implies that the observer has a different perspective. In this way, every reality is truly subjective and a reflexive understanding of one’s own privilege is needed to understand the precariousness of questioning the necessity for inclusion itself.