Op-Ed Thoughts

Matthew McGovern, Editor

Throughout all levels of social media, and journalism in the 21st century, people have begged for more transparency of what happens in the government. Many news outlets have publicized events that may have previously confined to to the knowledge of high level officials, on the basis of people stepping up to expose the wrongs that they may have experienced first hand on the inside. The incidences have become more common as of late, during the most recent presidential administration of Donald Trump.

So Why Trump?

Why have his ex-lawyers, former campaign advisors, and senior officials looked to expose and show the true colors of what is happening within the White House? Well, simply, it’s because the world has never seen someone like Trump before. The business mogul, turned reality television star, turned president of the United States has proven his unique diplomatic, and political personality has never been seen before. His boisterous personality, and all-around “I’ll do whatever I want attitude,” have lead to a unique, and newfound political divide within the U.S. regarding many of Trump’s policy decisions. It’s become prevalent that there is often times no middle ground that people can find on these decisions; both sides (disapproval, and approval of the President’s actions), many times present radical views. This has created a severe political divide, and it is one that has rarely been seen in past administrations.

As stated before, social media plays a huge role in this divide. Along with numerous 24 hour news networks, the web of social networking that envelopes our lives on a daily basis allows for the views of everyone to be viewed and expressed. On loop, every day. The basis of factuality plays no rule, and in the United States, there is often times no censorship involved in what becomes published.

Using the Mediums

September 5th marked a date in which journalism has never seen. An anonymous source, known to be a top White House Official under the Trump administration, published an anonymous op-ed in the New York times, highlighting the President (and staff)’s “worst inclinations” and “reckless decisions.”

This, again, is where the political divide comes into play.

Without the constant, immature bickering public officials, this op-ed would undoubtedly be monumentally less controversial. The depiction of the press as the enemy by Donald Trump, has allowed for an immediate backlash against The Times, and the anonymous writer by Trump and his constituents.

Why Is It Such a Big Deal?

This move by The Times, and the anonymous source, is unprecedented. People like Omarosa Manigault, and Michael Cohen have both publicly come out and spoken publicly on their personal (and not-so-pleasant) experiences with the president, and have gained significant attention for it from the public. The nature of the comments from these ex-Trump associates differ greatly from the op-ed, due to the publicity of them. A piece regarding the the happenings of the inner workings of the White House, published by a major news source from an anonymous author has never been seen before. The nearly immediate retaliation of the president is partly due to the never before seen article, as he used Twitter and a press conference in the White House to call it “gutless,” “a disgrace,” and “dishonest” (CNN). Trump has personified himself in moments where harsh, honest criticism has come his way to personally lash out and be quick to jump on the media in America for allowing this to happen. We’ve all heard the guy say ‘fake news,’ right?

So an important question is then posed:
Is the Op-Ed exploitive, or purely informative?

This op-ed being the first of its kind presents a unique situation and question; is the op-ed exploiting the mediums presented to all in the 21st century, or is it purely an informative piece that should be respected as a piece of journalistic history?

In reality, there’s no real and simple answer to this question. Every answer will almost surely be based on either political preference, or one’s personal opinions on the media.

Personally, I don’t think this article (op-ed) should be glorified per say, but it should surely be respected.

For decades, a demand of the general public has been transparency of government, and that is what the op-ed provides. The Trump administration has allowed for a special transparency, due to how an unusual amount of alleged scandal has surrounded the President and his actions. People on the inside have sought out to expose these flaws in the Presidents judgement and decisions, sometimes for personal gain, but other times just to inform the public.

Never has America had a President where each day keeps the entire country guessing. The amount of seemingly impulsive decisions made by Trump has never been seen , and has certainly noticed by some of his closest colleagues and advisors. The suspicions of many were confirmed in the op-ed, in how it specifically confirmed the “erratic behavior” of Donald Trump, and how there is much uncertainty of what the proceedings of the day may include under the President.

While the article primarily focuses on negatives of the Trump presidency, there is a beam of light that sticks out kind of like a sore thumb in it. The op-ed describes the accomplishments of Trump, and how the administration has accomplished historic tax cuts, a more robust military, and deregulation of private industry; but that’s about it.

The Implication, and Conclusion

A severe issue that is often overlooked is how difficult it has become to express a more moderate opinion politically, specifically in 2018. As I stated earlier, there is a trend where not many people have sat in the middle of Trump-Era decisions and policies. Often times, in discussions with family and friends, I’ve experienced a certain level of disgust towards me for showing either approval or disapproval for what the President has done. This action has become so common and widespread, which poses another question; is this op-ed just adding more fuel to that fire?

For people who may identify as more conservative the answer may be, “Of course!” And for those who lean more liberal, it may shift to an answer of, “Well maybe not! We’ve all just wanted some transparency, right?” In turn, there is no simple answer. It all becomes relative to who is being asked.
Of the many issues I’ve attempted to address, many of them have no set answer, or solution.

“How do we get Trump to stop lashing out on Twitter, and to lose the impulsive attitude?”
No answer from the public; that’s for him to decide.

“Why does everyone tend to believe what may not be true on social media, and even the news?”
No real answer; anyone is totally entitled to what they want to believe and publish.

“Is the op-ed a fair, justified, and truly publishable document?”
Again, no real answer. The relativity and diversity of political culture in the United States are so vast, so conflicted, that you could get a different answer from everyone you ask that, or any question too.

All in all, this presidency, this era, is one of the most unique in American history. From times of world war, civil war, economic depression, and decades where mutually assured destruction was a thought in daily life, nothing compares to right now. The Trump presidency has re-shaped the way American citizens view politics, and what the norm is for how they should be viewed and enacted on a daily basis. This new age allowed for the op-ed to be published, and now to have had so much impact on the way political culture is to be shaped moving forward.

Looking back on this time decades in the future will surely be interesting, and possibly by then, the answers to the questions we often ask ourselves about politics will have definitive answers.