Column: Silencing media comes with consequences

Mallory Kutnick, Staff Reporter

Picture yourself waking up on a late summer’s morning. You drag yourself out of bed to get ready for the day that awaits you. Breakfast has come and gone, and you have had your pot of coffee. Just another day.

Only there is no paper wrapped in plastic tossed haphazardly in your bushes by a paperboy in a rush. Your television airs nothing but early-morning cartoons and reruns of Green Acres and I Love Lucy. All is well in the world…right?

Hundreds of miles outside of your innocent bubble, thousands lay mangled and broken in pools of dusty blood, many concealed by great billowing clouds of smoke.

The year is 2001, and there is no such thing as news.

By the time word of the bloodbath reaches you, it, too, is mangled. Like a game of Telephone, what your neighbor tells you he heard at the watercooler is not what his coworker’s best friend’s daughter’s teacher’s stepson’s piano instructor’s former roommate’s second cousin twice removed saw on vacation.

It horrifies me to no end to think that more people appear to have cared more about the color of a dress and the design of a cup than they do about staying informed. Meanwhile, President Trump is advised by a woman who might as well argue that the sun orbits the Earth, the moon is made of cheese and the sky is purple.

His first Monday in the Oval Office, Trump signed an executive order demanding the US Department of Agriculture keep its mouth firmly shut. Nothing was to be made public.

The order was repealed the following day, but the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Transportation and Health and Human Services and, to a certain extent, the National Park Service, remained silenced.

Just as silent as the nation in the face of this authoritarian presidency.

Allow me to put this into perspective. Imagine living in Flint, Mich., and having never heard about its ongoing water crisis. You drink toxic water on a regular basis without even realizing it.

This is what may be in store for us without the scientists of the EPA. I cannot stress this enough; we need to be made aware of the hazards the world around us may have on our health. To add insult to injury is the fact—primary, not alternative—that the work of the EPA may potentially be subject to review by unqualified individuals hand-picked by our new Commander-in-Chief.

Luckily there is a faint glimmer of hope as those who seek to spread the truth stand up to those who seek spread lies (I apologize— “alternative facts”). In the wake of Trump’s attempt to gag them, the NPS refused to go down without a fight. It created an alternate Twitter account (@AltUSNatParkService) and responded to the executive order by posting facts about climate change, of which Trump is an avid denier.

The leader of the “free world” is also in avid denial of Standing Rock protests fighting for the Native American lands impacted by the Dakota Access Pipeline, claiming he was unaware of the controversy behind it because he had received nary a single phone call on the subject.

This raises several questions, not least of which is how he can be so out of touch that he can tweet infantile arguments all day, pointing fingers at anyone who dare call him out or question him, without once encountering an article or even a single post about the protests.

It is also worth noting that he has been at constant war with the press—the same press that provided extensive coverage of both himself and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Surely he saw just one article on the protests while scanning headlines for any mention of his name.

However it is that he managed to remain ignorant, the fact remains that he is out of touch with the world around him and, in a frightening twist, has power over it. He might as well be Queen of England but only speak French. While residing in China.


Mallory Kutnick is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].