By Leandro DD Coronel
US President Donald Trump enjoyed a welcome respite from his domestic problems while on tour to several foreign cities. But increasingly serious problems await him at home.
Trump’s presidential win last November was unpredicted. He was supposed to lose to the Democratic Party’s Hillary Clinton. But somehow Trump won in the US’ unique electoral college voting system (he lost to Clinton by three million votes in the actual count).
That Trump won even in traditional Democratic Party bailiwicks like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Minnesota made me suspicious. Immediately I emailed a US-based good friend of mine to inquire what went wrong.
My friend was of the mainstream consensus in the US that the Russians had played a role in influencing how the Americans voted. No actual hacking of the US electoral system took place. But massive disinformation about Mrs. Clinton allegedly committed by the Russians demonized her in the Americans’ minds, leading them to vote for Trump instead.
But, a few months into the Trump presidency, US media have exposed alleged links by Trump campaign operatives with the Russians. The exact nature and extent of the alleged collaboration are still unclear at this point. But further revelations may spell serious trouble for Trump.
Trump’s first national security adviser, a retired general named Michael Flynn, was reported as having liaised with the Russians during the US election campaign. Others associated with Trump are also suspected as having done the same.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation started an investigation into Flynn’s alleged activities. Then Trump did what could possibly cost him the presidency. He allegedly told FBI director James Comey, to lay off Flynn, something that, if true, is illegal because the FBI is an independent unit of the US government.
Later Trump fired Comey “because he wasn’t doing a good job,” a second action by Trump that made things worse for him.
A special counsel has been appointed to look into the matter, and the US Congress is also investigating.
Now, what’s key here, and what made all this possible, is the role the US media have played in exposing what Trump campaign associates were allegedly doing in violation of election laws, and Trump’s subsequent actions to stop the FBI investigation into the issue. Without the media exposés, none of what’s causing Trump headaches right now would have surfaced.
Major newspapers like the Washington Post, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times came up with scoops detailing Trump operatives’ possibly illegal dealings with the Russians. All-news channel CNN has been going after Trump relentlessly.
This is a major difference in the way media in the West and media elsewhere play key roles in exposing government shenanigans. News reporters in the West are able to cultivate contacts in high places in government which enable them to expose potentially illegal activity.
The only US president in recent memory to resign from office, Richard Nixon, met his demise because of an enterprising duo at the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who had a high-level contact at the FBI, code-named Deep Throat, who gave them leads that exposed Nixon’s cover-up of what started as a penny-ante break-in incident into the rival Democratic Party’s headquarters.
Western media are relentless and they pride themselves on their pitbull-like doggedness in pursuing leads about government wrongdoing. They work hard to earn news scoops that sometimes turn into bombshells that lead ultimately to high-level resignations. They are able to come up with blockbusters that seal their reputations as guardians of free speech and fair play.
Alas, in some countries, especially in the so-called Third World, often media are nothing but reprinters of government press releases and puff pieces of government functionaries. They have a lot to learn from their Western counterparts.
A host of big problems await Mr. Trump’s return to Washington. In a big way because of US media’s enterprise and dogged ways in pursuing real news and not in making government poobahs happy and in a good mood.
Tantrum Ergo. President Duterte has threatened to put the Visayas under martial law, too, because it’s easy for rebels in Mindanao to jump over into the Visayan islands as, the President said, they’re only “walking distance.”
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