Category Archives: Politics

Trump’s rhetoric is harmful, reporters say

By Kayla Ricumstrict

Detroit, MI

Though journalists are facing higher levels of mistrust and physical intimidation, two journalists say their work feels more important than ever.

In talks at The Princeton Summer Journalism Program, Gabriel Debenedetti of New York Magazine and Megan Garber of The Atlantic spoke to a small group of student journalists about the problems facing journalists in the age of Trump.

Criticism is a part of the job for journalists, but Trump’s words have made it worse. “The failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories, even on very positive achievements,” the president wrote in a recent tweet, “and they will never change!”

For some reporters, this mistrust has turned into intimidation—and even violence. At a recent Trump rally, a woman gave CNN reporters the finger. Verbal attacks and offensive gestures are only two of a number of issues journalists have to face. “I know a lot of political writers who’ve felt under physical threat,” said Debenedetti, who covers politics for New York. “That is not something we should get used to, and we should not just say ‘that’s just okay, that’s just what it is.’ We shouldn’t have to deal with that.”

Garber, the Atlantic staff writer, agreed. “There is a feeling of fear, I have to say, among journalists,” she said. “People will feel entitled to send me all kinds of terrible feedback, and I think that’s a very common experience for women. I’m pretty sure it’s worse for women of color.”

Intolerance for women and people of color is also a problem within the newsroom, said Garber. That has weakened the public’s trust in journalists because many people don’t see their stories represented. “Journalism has been a profession dominated by white men,” said Garber. “I think people now are responding to that narrowness by resenting journalism overall, but I don’t think that’s fair.” Despite that, Garber is excited to see more diversity. “We are getting more and more people into journalism, more and more voices,” she said. Those people are “able to share their own experiences to tell the stories of people whose stories weren’t always told before.”

Underdog congressional candidate demands reform of judiciary

By Emiliano Davalos

Chicago, IL

Republican Congressional candidate Anthony Pappas—who is running against Democratic rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th congressional district—showed up to his very first press conference with documents of his divorce along with a towel in his bag.

To start the press conference, he quietly lectured 40 student journalists from The Princeton Summer Journal about a case in which a young person was sterilized, scribbling the words “fallopian tubes” and “testicles” on the chalkboard behind him. He then argued that judges were allowing such tragedies to happen. He held out his towel to depict how a mother might hold up a child, and explained a court case in which a woman, at the age of 15, had been unknowingly sterilized—while being falsely told that the surgery was to remove her appendix. “Judges are above the law,” he said, explaining that he was fixated on reforming the judicial system.

In a district where Democrats hold a 6-to-1 majority, Pappas is running without much support from the local or national Republican party. He devoted the majority of his press conference to discussing his 2009 divorce and arguing that the judiciary system is corrupt. At one point in the press conference, Pappas asked someone in the room to validate the legitimacy of documents from his divorce proceeding. These documents alleged that he had committed domestic violence, resulting in the need for reconstructive surgery for his wife.

Although Pappas believes that not all judges are corrupt, he sees his divorce as part of a systemic problem. “We are gods, you can’t question us,” he said, characterizing the attitude of judges. He alleged that the judge on the case had “threatened retaliation on me” and “hallucinated that I committed a major crime.”

Not all people who win elections are experienced politicians, so why, you might ask, can’t an eccentric-seeming candidate who has just held his first press conference manage to become a congressman? Then again, in a heavily Democratic district, Pappas faces long odds, and his opponent’s campaign appears confident. Ocasio-Cortez’s senior advisor, Saikat Chakrabarti—who held a press conference with The Princeton Summer Journal following Pappas’s appearance—put it this way: “I think she is going to win.”