Tag Archives: trump

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.”

Nominee seen as threat to abortion rights

By Myrna Moreno

Phoenix, AZ

After Anthony Kennedy announced in June that he was retiring from the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump made good on his promise to appoint a justice who would uphold conservative values, nominating D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Republicans are thrilled with the opportunity to appoint another conservative justice to the highest court; Democrats, meanwhile, are fearful that Kennedy’s replacement would lean further to the right. But Princeton University politics professors Charles Cameron and Keith Whittington say they do not expect much to change with Kavanaugh on the court.

“The shift in the median is very tiny,” Cameron said. Like four other justices on the court, Kavanaugh is a conservative, originalist judge. Whittington agreed: Observers should not expect huge changes, he said, because the court is exchanging a conservative for another conservative.

Although Kennedy was appointed by a Republican president, he sometimes diverged from the court’s conservative wing, becoming a crucial swing vote. He voted with liberal justices on cases about gay rights, abortion, the death penalty and affirmative action.

Kavanaugh, 53, is more reliably conservative, which means that there will likely be more conservative court decisions. Liberals fear his confirmation could change the balance of the court—tilting it even further to the right—for a generation.

But Whittington said things won’t change too much. Kavanaugh, he said, is very careful with cases that are very controversial, taking “small steps rather than big steps.”

Because conservatives will continue to dominate the Supreme Court, abortion-rights supporters are concerned that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that cemented a woman’s right to get an abortion, might be overturned. Both Cameron and Whittington predict the court will never completely overturn Roe v. Wade, but they both concede the conservative justices could chip away at abortion rights in other ways. Cameron believes that the court might allow greater restrictions on abortion, while Whittington said the justices could undermine the ruling by “nibbling away on the margins.”

Ultimately, Cameron said he doesn’t “think Trump gives a damn about the Supreme Court,” crediting the Federalist Society, which grooms reliably conservative judges and pushes for their installation on the court, with his selection.

Cameron said Kavanaugh is thoughtful, humorous, and articulate. But politically, his appointment fulfills a major conservative priority.

“Kavanaugh,” he said, “is the perfect candidate for Republicans.”

Trump picks Kavanaugh, conservative favorite

By Evelyn Moradian

Glendale, CA

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump looks like another major victory for the right. If confirmed, Kavanaugh could dramatically affect how the court rules on contentious issues such as abortion, religious liberty, and separation of powers.

During his campaign, Trump promised to nominate conservative judges, and he delivered last year with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. After swing vote Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement in June, Trump again narrowed his list of possible nominees to several strong conservatives before choosing Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Charles Cameron, a Princeton University professor of politics and public affairs, said he doesn’t “think Trump gives a damn about the Supreme Court,” but he believes Kavanaugh is the “perfect” Republican candidate, fulfilling everything the party desires. From abortion to labor unions, Kavanaugh’s views are in line with mainstream conservatism. Cameron chalks up Trump’s selection of Kavanaugh to the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative lawyers, judges, and scholars that has helped Republicans staff the judiciary.   

Cameron believes Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate barring a scandal—a “smoking gun” that discredits the judge. Likewise, Princeton professor Keith  Whittington said he’d be “shocked” if Kavanaugh is not confirmed. Whittington, a conservative who opposed Trump in 2016, found Kavanaugh’s nomination to be a “pleasant surprise,” though he doesn’t believe Kavanaugh will significantly change the direction of the Supreme Court. Despite Whittington’s skepticism of Trump’s commitment to conservatism during the campaign, the professor supports Trump’s handling of judicial nominations.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Democrats fear that the Supreme Court will reverse several important decisions—notably Roe v. Wade, which established a woman’s right to an abortion. But both professors argued that the Supreme Court will not overturn that decision outright. Rather, Whittington believes that the court will instead limit abortion by “nibbling away on the margins,” while Cameron said the court will let “the exceptions to the rule destroy the rule.” In other words, although the case may not be overturned, it can be stripped to the point of nothingness.

Roe isn’t the only precedent at risk. Kavanaugh’s nomination could also change how the court approaches presidential power, voting rights, labor, and a host of other issues. But while the nomination fight over Kavanaugh will be heated, Cameron believes it’s only part of a larger picture of polarization.

President draws mixed reviews

By Oswaldo Vazquez and Matea Toolie

Los Angeles, CA and Savoonga, AK

A crowded night in Princeton served as the perfect setting to gather diverse perspectives on one of the most talked-about Americans today: President Donald Trump. On August 3, reporters from The Princeton Summer Journal asked Princeton residents to name one positive and one negative thing about the president. Some were enthusiastic to give their thoughts, others were uninterested—and their opinions varied.

“Trump is ruining the country. He is an embarrassment,” said Chris Michie when asked his views about the president. Michie, a middle-aged Democrat, thinks that the president’s current policies are “destroying decades of hard work from his predecessors. … He has no respect for the people and is a liar.” When asked if he could identify a positive aspect of Trump, he answered with an emphatic, “no!”

Cornelia O’Grady, a former Republican who no longer supports any party, said she did not quite like Trump, but she appreciated his ability to unite people. She said that Trump “is bringing people together—the people who would not normally be together. He unifies the middle.” She is concerned, however, about the president’s financial conflicts and the corruption in his administration. “He is making money off this country,” she said. “There is evidence that he is selling us out to the Russians. An example of that would be the cyber attacks” on Democrats.

It wasn’t just Americans who had opinions about the president. “He is brave for being a 70-year-old man. Probably one thing I like,” said Cici Zhan, who was visiting from China.     

Perplexed, indifferent, or annoyed by the journalists’ questions—or perhaps a combination of all three—a man named Rene Saiguro said frankly: “I don’t know about the politics today. I don’t think anything of it.” As soon as the interview was done, Saiguro was on his way.

Rob and Kristen Holly, two registered Republicans, had positive things to say about Trump. Both commented on the “brave and fearless speeches” the president has given to the public since the start of his political campaign. The couple still had some concerns. “I wish he was not socially awkward. I would like to see a more eloquent president,” said Rob Holly.

The Hollys ultimately agreed that Trump still has a long way to go to become the “ideal president,” further criticizing his colleagues in the White House who don’t have the political experience to run the country properly.

Trump finds few fans in Princeton

By Ikra Islam

Brooklyn, NY

President Trump’s name is so intertwined with controversy that even in largely liberal Princeton, few are willing to attach their names to a statement about him. But on a recent Friday evening, several residents felt the need to vocalize their frustration with the president and his policies.

Cynthia Parker, a Princeton local, said Trump’s choice to appoint Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year pushed her to become more vocal and politically active. Before the election, she rarely paid attention to local politics—but that changed when the reality of Trump’s victory set in.

At first, it was hard for Parker to accept Trump as her president. Parker recalled she would exercise during the 2016 election to distract herself from the news. She continued to exercise to distract herself after Trump took office, swimming an extra hour every day, but she also started channeling her energy into activism.

Parker and a group of friends wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, like them a graduate of Hanover College. The group voiced their concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and accused him of failing to empathize with the concerns of Americans. They also criticized the selection of Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. After sending the letter, she began attending rallies and protests, demonstrating against the administration’s policies and championing local politicians she hopes will help bring change.

Unlike Parker, Rajesh Shah, an IT engineer from Mumbai, India, sees some positive in Trump. “He’s bringing back jobs by lowering taxes, which is not a solution, but it definitely seems to be helping,” he said.

But Shah is also critical of the administration. Shah disagrees with Trump’s emphasis on coal, arguing that trying to revive the coal industry doesn’t make sense. He believes America needs to become more fuel efficient, though he also said the government should take care of coal miners who might lose work as the American economy continues to evolve.

Jennifer Robinson, a librarian at Princeton Library, is particularly distraught by President Trump’s immigration policies. She’s concerned that the legacy of his administration—the damage, in her view—will long outlive his presidency.

“I know it’s temporary,” she said. “But it breaks my heart because it’s going to be years before his influence is gone.”

Nassau Street patrons harshly criticize Trump

By Libbing Barrera and Christopher Quintero
Spring, NY and El Paso, TX

President Trump is the target of many negative reviews from New Jersey residents. On a Friday evening in Princeton, New Jersey, local people were questioned about their perception of Trump’s policies and his time as president.

Janet Shaw, a 66 year-old woman from Plainsboro, New Jersey shook her head and sighed that there were “simply no words” to explain her contempt for Trump. She felt quite strongly about people that voted for him and was shocked to hear there were Princetonians that supported him. Shaw claims the media portrays him accurately — as a “horrible human being” — and doesn’t think he could do anything to improve his image. Continue reading