On October 15th, CBS “60 Minutes” aired an in-depth investigative report about the DEA, Congress, and the growing opioid crisis. The report rightly caused outrage among viewers and forced those involved to answer to the claims aired. Two days later on October 17th, one of the key Congressional figures in the report stepped down from being considered for the next Drug Czar under the Trump administration. The withdrawal for consideration by Rep. Tom Marino is a direct result of the outstanding investigative journalism by CBS and the Washington Post. This is a prime example of why we need a strong, independent press.
Over the last two years, we’ve seen a growing movement to try and undermine the free press. Any report that is ill received or goes against personal bias is labeled as “fake news.” The overused label comes regardless of how factual the report is. Candidate Trump and now President Trump has spearheaded this effort. Just a few days ago, Trump suggested the “license” for NBC should be removed. It is a real danger, especially when there is literally “fake news” spread every day on social media. The attempt to blur these lines between credible news and false memes does no benefit to our society.
Beyond trying to undermine the integrity of the free press, politicians have begun to block them from our open process. Whether it is President Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, or North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum the troubling trend of barring the free press must not become the norm. It is nothing more than an attempt by politicians to try and control the narrative they want the public to have.
What CBS, the Washington Post, and others involved in the “Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress” report proved was the importance of the “fourth pillar” in our democratic way of governing. Because of their in-depth reporting arguably lives will be saved. That is, if Congress and bureaucrats right the wrongs “60 Minutes” exposed. We must push back on those who seek to undermine the free press.