“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” —Thomas Jefferson
In the 2016 election season, the press has experienced more pressure to shy away from investigative reporting on candidates. The press as a whole has received attacks for reporting “dishonest” and negative stories on presidential candidates. As political coverage increases as we near Election Day, it is important to address the concerns of press freedom and the resulting aftermath of these critiques.
According to an NBC News article, this election season is full of “falsehoods,” which is causing the media to emphasize fact-checking. The press receives criticism from the candidates for attacking their claims, which has led to excluding journalists from campaign events. According to the NY Times, “barring journalists” is almost unheard of, but has been put into action during this election season.
Journalist Dan Rather said in a recent Facebook post that this election has gotten out of hand with media criticism, and traditional journalistic appreciation needs to be restored. While discussing his personal experience in journalism with political candidates he said, “I know what it is like to sit in those seats and feel the scorn and even wrath of politicians of all political persuasions. Attacking the press for unfair coverage has long been a bipartisan pursuit.” He argues that journalists should not get punished for asking tough questions and challenging candidates’ arguments.
According to The Arizona Republic, the purpose of the American media is to uncover facts. The press is not supposed to agree with everything presidential candidates say or do, and having a homogenous media that agree with only one viewpoint would reverse the disposition of free speech. The political press exists in order to ask the hard-hitting questions, providing our democracy with the evidence they need in order to make informed voting decisions.
What direction is press freedom moving towards? The press using investigative techniques during election season is important because it adds credibility to the candidates and results in a more informed public.