• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Here's Johnny - Trump's war on journalists

Perhaps now that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has fired pugnacious campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, he'll lay off the Fourth Estate. And perhaps one day soon we'll look up and see a flock of winged pigs fluttering through the clouds. Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has included journalists on his list of creatures bad for America, which to date includes some Muslims, many Mexicans and most anyone who disagrees with his words and actions. The party of Lincoln's all-but-certain nominee draws great cheers from followers when he blasts people in my line of work who've written less than flattering accounts about him. Let's consider just one example. In late May, the Washington Post published a story examining Trump's promise to send $6 million raised at an event (held the January night he skipped a debate) to veterans' groups. The Post learned that, four months after the fact, those groups had not received the money, which was to include $1 million donated by Trump himself (though Lewandowski told the paper the checks had already been sent). The day the article ran, the money arrived. Coincidence? (See pigs with wings section above.) However, instead of apologizing or even explaining the timing of the donations, Trump launched an attack on the Post and other news outlets. He called one reporter a nasty guy, and added the Post to a lengthy list of news organizations he's banned from his rallies. In the past half-century, Republicans have profited greatly by complaining of left-leaning bias among the men and women who cover them. However, I wonder how well that play call has helped them: Automatically assuming that anything written or said about you that you don't like (even direct quotes) is purely the result of a vast left-wing conspiracy by the press is likely to blind you to your own errors. Trump said he wants to make it easier to sue journalists, which, for deep-pocketed subjects of occasionally unflattering articles, including crooked politicians with legal defense funds, would be a godsend. There are plenty of good reasons to be disappointed in the journalistic offerings on television, radio, newspaper and the Internet. Consultants coach newsroom leaders to search for the lowest common denominator; many cable outlets and websites only publish articles that will please their left or right-leaning consumers; too many of the anchors on local and network television news programs are picked not for their experience or ability, but rather for their looks. That said . By and large, the men and women who are in this biz are in it for the right reasons: to seek and tell the truth. I've worked in newsrooms in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, Owensboro and, last but hardly least, Versailles, and worked with people in other, larger markets. I've read the work of tough, talented, experienced reporters like the semi-retired Al Cross, who teaches at UK and runs the school's rural journalism blog and still publishes the occasional article about Kentucky politics. Being human - and we journalists are, I promise - we sometimes make mistakes. When we do, we apologize, make corrections, and vow to do better the next time. It is an honorable, if not always lucrative, profession. Please keep that thought in mind the next time Trump or his Kentucky doppelganger launches an offensive on journalists. Read more than the headline of an article. Scratch the surface. Think - don't just feel. OK, sermon over. I'm going to press "save" one last time, drag this column to the Silver Fox's folder, and walk outside. It's a beautiful morning and I'm going to cast my gaze upwards, hoping to glimpse at least one porcine bird.

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