Editorial: The slippery slope of censorship under Trump

On Monday, the Washington Post was added to the list of news outlets denied press access to GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s campaign events. The drastic action is seemingly in response to an article implying in the headline that Trump believed there to be a causal relationship between President Obama and the tragic mass shooting that occurred in Orlando, Florida.

Given the Post’s reputation and history of journalistic integrity, the move to revoke press credentials is strange but by no means a deviation in behavior, given that Trump has taken similar action against other outlets such as BuzzFeed, Politico, the Daily Beast, Univision, and the Huffington Post. As humorous as coverage of the Trump campaign can be at times alongside the very apparent demonstrations of his thin skin, when it comes to unfavorable media coverage, this retaliatory trend of media censorship has far-reaching implications. 

When looking at instances of censorship such as this, it is important to remember those who have struggled and sacrificed for the ability to speak candidly on the world at large and the importance of press freedom. We are fortunate enough to live in a society that values freedom of the press enough to incorporate it into the legislative foundation of the country, but just because a freedom is guaranteed does not mean that it is always exempt from opposition.

What appears on the surface to be an innocuous tantrum targeted at the larger institution of journalism carries the potential to chip away at the integrity of our tradition of press freedom. The protection of free speech and press was written in ink physically in the Constitution, but at times had to be rewritten in blood to remain applicable in the lived life. This is what we cannot forget when it comes to a presidential candidate who threatens such a rich tradition and wields the possibility of political censorship against impartial parties that oppose him.

The ability to speak in favor or against the leaders and potential leaders of this country is a right but also a privilege not shared by the entire world, and when one is accustomed to a certain privilege, the threat of its imminent loss becomes harder to distinguish. The Post and other media outlets that have been barred from Trump’s campaign appear to have taken the slight in good humor, with the Huffington Post even tweeting in response to the Post’s revocation “@washingtonpostWelcome to the club. #bannedbytrump.” However, it is easy to think of Trump’s actions as comical, because they do not yet carry the weight to amount to a unilateral censorship of this nation’s journalistic institution as whole. The danger is not the individual affronts to specific media outlets but rather an impending confluence of journalistic censorship that may only intensify with the progress of the Trump campaign and growing criticism of said campaign. That said, the Trump campaign appears to have started down a path that could ultimately lead to the dismantling of this country’s press freedom.

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