This week, you witnessed what in all reality is the only lifeline you’ll have during a Trump presidency. And it’s the one many of you have been griping about for some time, with some reason. Let’s take a walk down Trump memory lane.
This week the new Republican Congress convened. (By the way, let’s start calling it that, since this Congress is so overwhelmingly Republican that it does not need a single Democrat vote to pass any legislation.) As all opening Congressional sessions do, the night before its official first session convenes, leadership meets in a private session and passes what will be the rules for the new Congress. Following, in its first official session, the members, like good soldiers, pass it. But in that package was a piece of legislation that would gut the Office of Congressional Ethics, meaning that any member of Congress who strayed from the rules or laws would no longer have what some have called the “Congress police” to bring them to justice. It would be like Congressional kids in the taxpayers’ candy store.
But a surprising thing happened on the way to Republican heaven on the Potomac. As soon as that secret session ended, somehow a few members of the media who have Congress as their beat — meaning they are at all the meetings and watch all actions of Congress — discovered this “resolution.” The New York Times was the first to publish it, and CNN, MSNBC and even Fox News quickly followed. Newspaper and news sites around the nation put the story up as their main news article. People began to tweet and use social media to its fullest. This led to thousands of calls jamming the Congressional phone lines. Once it was obvious where this was going, even Trump tweeted against making the move a priority. I guess that shows he looks to see what is trending. And the trend was not good for Congress.
How did this all happen? The media, that group that many — mostly Republicans — denounce. This is a perfect example of what media does and why it will be so important during a Trump presidency. They are the only independent group of professionals who will deliver what this nation should have: transparency in government.
Next time you want to trash the media, think of this “resolution.” Information is powerful and getting it professionally — in a way you can use it and trusting that the facts are correct — can keep politicians — ah, let’s say this in the spirit of the moment — ethical.
Mark Segal is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. His recently published memoir, “And Then I Danced,” is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or at your favorite bookseller.