— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) March 14, 2017
"Fox & Friends" did a pretty convincing impression of the White House spin factory Tuesday with the following report by Heather Childers:
Media bias on full display. Newspapers now cashing in on t-shirts splashed with anti-President Trump rhetoric. The Washington Post offering this shirt, which says "democracy dies in darkness." The L.A. Times selling shirts that say "journalism matters," and the Chicago Tribune's featured the line "speaking truth to power since 1847." The shirts being sold for around 20 bucks.
Apparently touting the importance of journalism in a democratic society makes these news outlets opponents of President Trump. That's the kind of twisted logic presented by the likes of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway — except it came from Fox News.
To be sure, media companies have launched advertising campaigns that are implicitly or explicitly predicated on commitments to holding Trump accountable to the public. The most prominent example is the New York Times's "truth" campaign, which included a 30-second commercial during the Oscars telecast last month.
The president was not a fan of the ad.
For first time the failing @nytimes will take an ad (a bad one) to help save its failing reputation. Try reporting accurately & fairly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2017
The Orlando Sentinel has made "know fact from fiction" an advertising slogan. Beyond U.S. borders, the Australian recently made this pitch to readers:
As I wrote in February, several publications enjoyed subscription bounces in the immediate aftermath of the election. The Wall Street Journal reported a 300 percent spike on the day after Trump's victory. The Times added about 132,000 subscribers in a three-week period. After Trump bashed Vanity Fair in a tweet in December, the magazine set a single-day company record for new subscriptions.
Clearly, acting as a check on the president is the hot business strategy of the moment. Shouldn't that always be the case? Of course. Then why is the media in-your-face about it now?
Maybe because this president has sought to delegitimize the press by calling it the "opposition party" and the "enemy of the American people" and has declared his desire to weaken First Amendment protections by subjecting journalists to greater risk of libel suits.
Trump is trying to convince Americans that they don't need outlets like The Washington Post and New York Times. "Good news," he told supporters at a campaign rally in October. "Most of them won't be around for much longer, in my opinion. They're going down."
Media companies are trying to convince Americans that the press is, in fact, vitally important. Being pro-journalism does not make the press anti-Trump.