Op-ed: 'Mr. President, the media is not the enemy'

Jihadists, drug cartels, North Korea -- they are
Posted at 9:34 AM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 09:36:00-05

Rep. Steve Chabot is a Republican who represents Ohio's Second Congressional District, which includes much of Western Hamilton County and Warren County. This column was first published on his campaign blog.

Mr. President, on two earlier occasions, I thought it necessary to write open letters to you. And about a month ago, I drafted a proposal for an Inaugural Address, which I said you probably wouldn’t give. (You didn’t).

Many of your supporters believe that if you say something, or take a position, we should all fall into line, and adopt that same point of view. Your critics, on the other hand, comprised of “never-Trumpers” (Republicans who feel that you’re unfit for office), most Democrats, liberals, and the mainstream media, believe you can do nothing right.

I would put myself into a different category. I’m a supporter, but I believe it is my responsibility to voice my disagreement with you, when what you’ve said or done, crosses a line. And I believe you did cross that line recently when you said that the news media is the enemy of the American people.

Now is what you said an impeachable offense, as at least one former judge in my community might have us believe? No. The same First Amendment that protects the press, and all of us for that matter, protects you as well. 

But you are the President of the United States. People listen closely to everything you say.

Mr. President, let me put it this way. I know, the press can drive you crazy. You’ve already done some very positive things. You’ve got a number of companies who intended to outsource jobs to other countries, to reconsider, and keep those jobs right here in America. You’ve reversed the stupid holds on the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, which will mean thousands of American jobs. You’ve reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which will prevent U.S. tax dollars from paying for abortions around the world. You’ve ordered federal agencies to get rid of two regulations for every new one imposed (this will, I think, dramatically boost the economy over the long run.) And you picked a great judge, Neil Gorsuch, to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

But despite all these positive things you’ve done already, the mainstream press focuses virtually all their time and energy on negative stuff. It drives you crazy – I get it.

Is the media the “opposition party”? That’s what one of your top advisers, Steve Bannon, called them (and then you subsequently did.) I wouldn’t refer to them as “a party”, but yes, in most cases the mainstream media IS the opposition.

If you’re a conservative in America today, and your point of view is pro-life, support for traditional marriage, pro-capital punishment, strict enforcement of our immigration laws, Second Amendment rights, etc., you can count on the mainstream press being far more sympathetic to the opposite point of view. So in essence, they ARE the opposition.

But that doesn’t make them the enemy. That’s the distinction I would make.

Mr. President, I’ve served in the United States Congress for two decades now. I’ve served with a lot of Republicans, and I’ve served with a lot of Democrats. The Democrats are the opposition, but they aren’t the enemy. Kim Jong Un in North Korea is the enemy. Radical Islamic jihadists who seek to kill and maim Americans and our allies are the enemy. Drug cartels who smuggle death across our borders, and into the veins of Americans who are, or soon will be, in cemeteries across the nation, are the enemy.

For 20 years now, I’ve been a member of the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee is charged with overseeing the administration of justice in America, including oversight of the federal courts, the Justice Department, and the FBI. For six years I was the chairman of the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. In that role, I became even more appreciative of what a sacred document our Constitution is. What it means to our nation, and what an aspirational role it has played to much of the rest of the world.

Our Founders in the very first Amendment to that noble document, added this language: “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” The role of the press was so important in the minds of our Founding Fathers, that they protected it in the First Amendment. And yes, they also protected the right of every citizen, including yourself, to say virtually anything he or she wanted.

So, Mr. President, you had the right to say what you did, but in my humble opinion, you shouldn’t have said it. The Democrats, the media, and those who don’t see things the way we do, may be the opposition, but they’re not the enemy.