Reporting Trump's First Year - How talk of the 'enemy of the people' has consequences for democracy

This week's shooting at a Maryland newspaper, in which five journalists died, came just four days after I saw President Donald Trump say: 'The media doesn't tell the truth... It's fake... They are the enemy of the people.'

Friday, 29th June 2018, 5:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 6:17 pm
Maggie Haberman, White House Correspondent, gets a call from Trump
Maggie Haberman, White House Correspondent, gets a call from Trump

That quote came from Reporting Trump’s First Year: The Fourth Estate (Channel 4, Sundays, 9pm), an inside look at the New York Times during Trump’s tumultuous first 12 months.

One of the flatulent satsuma’s favourite tactics is the denigrating and sidelining of conventional media in favour of outlets reporting more favourably on his presidency.

This barrage of criticism from the president and his allies – as well as past crimes by newspapers themselves – has undermined trust in the ‘mainstream’ media, turning people to less well-established outlets for their news, even when the Times manages to get a genuine scoop – about Russian collusion in the presidential election.

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It also deflects attention from real stories, turning the spotlight away from dirty dealings on to the media itself and the way it acts – process stories, The West Wing called them – making reporters and their publications the targets. As seems to have been the case in Maryland.

Reporting Trump’s First Year was excellent in many ways. Firstly, it reminded you just how comically inept the Trump campaign seems to have been in hiding its meetings with Russia. Secondly, it showed you how odd Trump truly is.

And thirdly, it showed an industry – the print media –which is slowly dying, hurried on its way by its own shortsightedness, online competition, and relentless attacks from vested interests.

I realise I am a journalist, but you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

More Trump, and this time his man in London. Inside the American Embassy (Channel 4, Mondays, 10pm) revealed exactly how oily our politicians are when confronted with US money and power.

Intentional comedy now, and Stath Lets Flats (Channel 4, Wednesdays, 10pm). A fly-on-the-wall type thing about a hapless letting agency, the characterisation was excellent, the script less so.