Charles Blow, The New York Times’ opinion editor, took the stage in Forum Hall on Tuesday night to give his diagnosis of the Trump administration and mass media as part of the Lou Douglas Lecture Series.
“Trump doesn’t seem to register that lying all the time is not allowed,” Blow said.
While Trump drove up news network ratings with his brazen statements during the election, his role as president has changed the outlook for the media in terms of combating dishonesty, Blow said.
“Trump wants to brand the press as an enemy of the American people when the exact opposite is true,” Blow said. “A free, fearless, adversarial, in-your-face press is the best friend of democracy.”
Blow said the role of journalists is now to combat Trump’s dishonesty through truth and hard fact-checking, but it will be an uphill battle for journalism and mass communications majors to build public trust.
“What does the media, specifically upcoming JMC majors who are about to graduate, need to do in order to stop this downward trend of public trust?” Blow said to the students in the audience.
Blow said he was unsure of what the answer to his own question is, as increasingly polarized political parties have resulted in increasingly polarized messages from the media.
“I don’t know if it’s an individual effort process,” Blow said. “I think a part of what happened was that opinion newsprints became more common, and that meant that you could be exposed to news that you didn’t like. Liberals could say news is horrible because Fox is driving their agenda, and people on the right could say news is horrible because we have Rachel Maddow and MSNBC, and they’re horrible and they’re not telling the truth.”
Blow placed some of the blame on opinion-laden news content.
“Opinion journalism became a thing, and part of that is because people got lazy,” Blow said. “They didn’t want to do the work of formulating perspectives of their own. When I was younger, people used to watch news, and then maybe they would develop their own opinion.”
The Lou Douglas Lecture Series is dedicated to Lou Douglas, a former K-State professor of political science.