The worm has turned: Now America needs Glasnost
For a year and a half, Donald Trump's latest reaction to the events of the day was available through his speeches, either live or viewable any time on YouTube. And since before the convention, his excellent campaign website offered a wealth of substantive new press releases almost every day. Many days, the site was the best journalism around, in terms of campaign news as well as detailed position statements.
Since election day, we are largely back to following Trump through the mainstream media, and the contrast is jarring. Many in this group have lost all credibility. As Rush Limbaugh said on Tuesday (11/15), "we're just gonna have to steel ourselves here, and the first, the default reaction to any media story that has anything incredulously stupid, dumb, or negative about Trump is to not believe it, folks. That has to become our default position."
I believe that post-inauguration, the Trump administration will find innovative ways to stay in touch with the American people, bypassing the MSM, just as Trump did during the campaign. But this is going to be about more than keeping the public in touch with the views, actions, and true intentions of the president. Most of the vast federal bureaucracy today is shrouded in darkness – or, if you prefer, submerged in a swamp.
Investigative reporting has all but withered away during the Obama administration. In the words of former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson in her 2014 book Stonewalled, "I'm all too familiar with the pre-story stonewall. The post-story harassment. The ignored requests for interviews and public information. But the Obama administration has aggressively employed the additional PR strategy: controversializing potentially damaging stories, reporters, and opponents to undermine them. It can be a highly effective tactic – unless the public learns to recognize it."
The public will be well served if the default position once again becomes that government information belongs to the public. Secrecy can hide malfeasance, but it also breeds suspicion even when there is nothing to hide.
The other day, a Millennial asked me, "Who controls the country and the world: the officials elected by the people or the deep state, as in the NSA, Google, Soros, foreign donors, etc.?" Two years ago, before the last betrayal by the Republican congress, I would glibly have given the civics class answer. Today I don't know, and I don't blame Millennials for not knowing, either.
In the 1980s in the Soviet Union, everyone knew that the answer to that question was the deep state, and that it had been so for generations. Gorbachev's policy of Glasnost, meaning openness or transparency, generated tremendous and beneficial change in the USSR and beyond.
It sounds strange, but we now need Glasnost here. Otherwise, the American people will not have certainty that we are living under the rule of law, that there is one system of justice for all, and that they are the ones in charge. And this won't be the country the Founders meant it to be.