The BBC has asked for my views on President-Elect Trump and the press in the wake of Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes awards ceremony on 8 January 2017.
Does Trump’s attitude to the media present a real threat or is this hyoe?
There is no doubt Donald Trump has exhibited disdain for many journalists -- print and electronic -- throughout the year during the primaries, convention week and after in the debates and campaign. If he wishes to keep the powerful media on his side when he enters the White House he would be well-advised to watch recordings of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and JFK press conferences. Reagan got away with the appalling Iran-Contra Affair because he was a master of making the press love him. Bill Clinton loved the press and they returned it to him - even in the wake of the Lewinsky Affair he maintained the ‘comeback kid’ persona -- the Republican right tried to unseat him but failed and he went on to complete his second term with a ‘good press.’ Franklin Roosevelt overcame a reactionary, isolationist press in the 1930s to see his New Deal/ post-Depression programmes given a mostly positive reception. His close friendship with King George VI got a good press. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lasted for five years because he adored the press. The irony was that Seymour Hersh brought him down with his 2004 Abu Ghraib revelations but until then even the liberal media had been kind to 'Rummy.'
Do Donald Trump’s outbursts about the media alarm me?
It has been a daily occurrence - his worst offence to me was his baiting Megyn Kelly of Fox News in the Debate season -- suggesting her Rottweiler-style interviewing style was a result of her time of the month. In the past fortnight with the CIA- FBI - hacking -Putin-Trump issues being in the headlines Trump has suggested the media are creating fake news and that the media are 'dishonest.' In my long career I have never seen such hostility from a president-elect. Richard Nixon was mean to the media and look at how he met his demise..some of us old enough to remember recall his 1962 'You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore' to the press corps... He never trusted the media and the 1973-74 Ervin and Rodino Watergate Committee hearings revealed his lifetime animosity toward the press.
Is the traditional media (papers like the New York Times, stations like CNN) in a strong position to withstand any threat?
YES- the Washington Post is hiring 60 more journalists and will no doubt be working hard to monitor Trump's every move and word. It was the Washington Post that uncovered Watergate and I have confidence the 'big players' in both print and broadcast media will not be intimidated. Meryl Streep has mentioned the Committee to Protect Journalists and I am confident that brilliant organisation, which protects all of us at home and abroad, will be keeping a close watch on Trump's attempts to muzzle or even imprison journalists.