Comments by Iowa GOP head Jeff Kaufmann at President Trump’s June 21 rally in Cedar Rapids aimed at Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., drew a lot of attention from the media and public. “[Sasse] crosses the Missouri River and in that sanctimonious tone talks about what he doesn’t like about Donald Trump,” Kaufmann said to a cheering crowd. “You know what, Sen. Sasse? I really don’t care what you like. We love Donald Trump. And if you don’t love him, I suggest you stay on your side of the Missouri River.”
Less reported on, however, were Kaufmann’s gibes at the media, in which he called out the Cedar Rapids Gazette for having an opinion piece on its front page condemning Trump. Kaufmann’s message to the Gazette? Trump won, get over it.
Kaufmann ended his speech by asking the crowd to show the media that Iowans are not wavering in their support for the president. “Press, this is for you; try reporting it sometime,” he said before looking directly into the camera, throwing his hands up in the air, and walking off stage. Kaufmann’s very own mic drop, trademarked by more far-right-fueled disdain for the media.
Of course, Kaufmann was not alone in expressing his contempt for the media; Trump called out CNN and condoned Fox News, along with leading the crowd in a round of booing directed at the press box. None of this is surprising, although for the Daily Iowan Editorial Board, issues such as these hit rather close to home. While the Gazette may be competition to the DI, it is symbolic of a free press, something that the democracy in this country is grounded upon.
Kaufmann’s scorn toward the Gazette seems to stem from one thing and one thing only: The paper published with an opinion he disagreed with. The DI Editorial Board would like to remind Kaufmann and the public that this was an opinion piece, not a news article. The Editorial Board would also like to iterate the folly of calling any news that does not paint you in a flattering light “fake.” That the leader of our country, and the leader of the Republican Party in Iowa, touts this sort of hatred toward any media that does not fan their egos is dangerous.
Furthermore, implying that the opinions column should not have been written because whoever works at the Gazette should get over it harks back to medieval-like times when someone could be persecuted or even criminalized for speaking negatively about the government. It’s 2017. Criticism of and discourse about the current situation moves our country forward.
The media are the public’s access to what is going on in the world. When a widespread distrust of this role is perpetuated, the divide in this country only grows deeper and deeper, despite what Trump and his administration may believe.