U.S. President Donald Trump's feud with the media is largely a fake feud, as he need the media's attention and approval, and the media needs a revenue boost, Sarah Kendzior, American writer and journalist, said in an interview with BNS.
"It's an old problem which Trump has exploited. Trump spent his whole career preying on vulnerable businesses and people like a vulture, and the media – which has been in a financial crisis since roughly 2001 – was just his latest victim. But they were a willing victim, using Trump to boost ratings at the expense of democracy," Kendzior, who will be one of the speakers at this year's Lennart Meri Conference, said.
"Trump's feud with the media is largely a fake feud: he craves their attention and approval, and they crave the revenue boost," she said.
Kendzior said that, at the same time, there is genuine public dissatisfaction with the media in the U.S., as a result of two changes that have taken place over the past decade or so – namely, extreme partisan rhetoric supplanting straightforward delivery of facts, best exemplified in outlets like Fox News, and the geographical clustering of media in the most expensive cities in the U.S., which shapes who reports and what they prioritize.
She said that currently one out of every four U.S. journalists lives in three elite coastal cities. This is a very different media landscape than a decade ago.
"I live in Missouri, in the center of the U.S., in a 'red state' that voted for Trump. Our local media has been gutted since the recession, which means Missourians often rely on national news. The national news outlets do not pay attention to problems in the Midwest, and that apathy stokes public resentment and distrust – and also drives readers to conspiracy websites or outlets like Fox News, who pretend to care while peddling propaganda," Kendzior said.
"The best solution to the 'fake news' problem is rebuilding local news. When you have robust local news outlets, people may debate the meaning of the facts, but they will at least be dealing with the same set of facts, and they will feel their concerns are being covered and addressed," she added.
This year's Lennart Meri Conference, entitled "Darkest Just Before the Dawn?: The War on Trust and How To Win It", will take place from May 12 to 14. The conference will consider the severe challenges facing the West and seek to identify the opportunities that may arise in these bleakest moments.
Among the speakers who will help find solutions to strategic challenges the West is facing at the Lennart Meri Conference are Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini, Italy's former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Italy's European Affairs Minister Sandro Gozi, Georgia's Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis, Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller and India's former Foreign Minister Kanwal Sibal.
The conference will kick off on May 12 at 4:30 p.m. at Radisson Blu Sky Hotel in Tallinn and end on the afternoon of May 14. The discussions will be streamed live on the website of the event.
The conference is organized by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) and the Lennart Meri European Foundation. The conference's media partner is BNS. The organization of the conference is supported by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elering, Wihuri, NATO, Milrem, BAE Systems, Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Defendec and Hanwha.
Baltic News Service