By Megan Evershed
Pathetic fallacy is a literary device used to express human emotion through nature, like the weather. And what a miserable day we had today.
There are many bones to pick with Donald Trump – hell, there are enough bones to fill a cemetery – but the specific bone I want to focus on is his blatant attack on the media.
Trump and his campaign have successfully labeled the media as liars, as biased, as corrupt. No matter how many of his scandals were reported on, how many of the xenophobic or discriminatory remarks were analyzed, because his campaign had declared the media rigged, voters could write off negative media coverage as typical elitist backlash. I never really considered Donald Trump clever, but in this strategic ploy, he tapped into gold. The New York Times wrote editorials decrying a Trump presidency. So did The New Yorker. So did The Washington Post. But the thing is, voters didn’t care. It’s the same concept we saw with Brexit – ordinary people “have had enough of experts” (thank you Michael Gove). They’ve also had enough of “elitist” media sources. They want someone – preferably old and white and male – barking at them, criticizing the establishment and trumpeting (excuse the pun) the racism and sexism that they had come to believe they weren’t allowed to express anymore because of this pesky little thing called “political correctness.”
We thought sharing Trump’s outrageous speeches and ridiculous “policy” plans – if you can call systematically excluding Mexicans and Muslims from entering the US a “policy” – would eventually cause the demagogue to topple. But you know what they say, all publicity is good publicity, and nothing diminished either his ego or the frenzied admiration of his supporters.
And now we have a new President of the United States, even though I said it couldn’t happen. But then again, that’s what I said before Brexit. Now, feeling alienated by the two countries I call home, I am seemingly rootless. Fortunately, it’s possible to construct a home in writing. The United Kingdom no longer holds my citizenship, the United States no longer holds my house. I am now a citizen of the written word and the freedom of expression is my new address. Trump can build his wall and spew his racist rhetoric, but there will always be journalists watching him, noting down his comments, analyzing his expressions.
The media is a bastion of accountability and – hopefully – honesty. A free media is one of the markers of a functioning civil society, a lighthouse that illuminates the shadows. The media is a source of truth and so therefore to discredit and delegitimize the media is to discredit and delegitimize a quest for transparency and for honesty.
Never have I felt this more than in the past week as The Sundial edited and shared opinion pieces and coverage of the recent rumors and protests encircling Mr. Ruchet’s termination as head of the Euro-American program. Having the power as students to keep the administration accountable through student journalism has been an extraordinary experience of empowerment and growth, and has proved to me that there is no greater vehicle of transparency than honest reporting.
But what if journalism was discredited as rigged?
What if honest media coverage was painted as corrupt and elitist?
What if Donald Trump became president?
We no longer live in a world of what ifs.