CONTACT: Caitlin Graf, The Nation, press [at] thenation.com, 212-209-5400
New York, NY—March 2, 2017—Donald Trump loves to attack the news media, but he wouldn’t be president today without them, argues acclaimed press critic and guest editor Mark Hertsgaard in this special issue of The Nation. Gracing the cover of “Media in the Trump Era” (March 20, 2017) is a lacerating cartoon by legendary Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. The issue’s articles—some published in conjunction with The Columbia Journalism Review—stress solutions, not lamentations. Plus, something not normally associated with The Nation: laughs! The issue’s overriding purpose, however, is deadly serious: How should the news media cover the combative new president, and how can American journalism regain public trust and audiences?
“Media malpractice fueled the election of Donald Trump,” says Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel. “Our special issue grapples with the consequences of this historic failure, and offers a roadmap to recovering journalistic integrity and independence.”
“Whatever one’s politics, it is in everyone’s interest that the American media—left, right and center—do a much better job of covering president Trump than they did covering candidate Trump,” adds Hertsgaard, author of the seminal study of White House press relations, On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency, and newly-appointed Nation investigative editor at large. To counter the far-reaching right-wing media infrastructure that has misled Americans about everything from Trump to Barack Obama’s birthplace to the reality of climate change, Hertsgaard urges building an independent media infrastructure—not to mimic right-wing propaganda but to uphold core principles of a free press: informing the people and holding the powerful to account.
Other contributions include:
Nic Dawes, the former editor in chief of South Africa’s top daily investigative newspaper, draws on his long experience confronting authoritarian populists to warn of parallels with the Trump administration. His advice to his American colleagues: jettison your pose of distanced neutrality and shun official access in favor of democratic accountability: As the public’s surrogate, the press has a right of access to the places where the machinery of government is working,” Dawes writes. “You do not bargain about this kind of press access, and you accept no diminishment of it, because it belongs to you, not the government of the day.”