Opinion: Journalists better get ready for a fight

By Rachel Rippetoe | January 16, 2017 1:12pm

by Sam Keeler / The Beacon

The headline read, “Sessions says he’s ‘not sure’ he won’t put reporters in jail as AG” and a feeling swept over me.

I thought it would be of immense anger, but it was something different.

Senator Amy Klobuchar asked “and will you make that commitment not to put reporters in jail for doing their jobs?” And he said, “I am not sure. I have not studied those regulations.”

I couldn’t help myself from smiling. I smiled for hours after reading it. I was downright giddy.

I made a funny tweet that no one favorited. It read ‘New career goal is for Jeff Sessions to put me in jail #ComeAtMeJeff.” It’s the kind of joke you make when you really don’t feel like laughing, when you’d rather cry instead.

But I didn’t feel like crying.

In the days following, my head was buried in Twitter. I read CNN’s report. And Buzzfeed’s. I watched the clip of Donald Trump’s press conference where he dismissed Jim Acosta and called CNN “fake news”.

I watched as Kellyanne Conway talked about the dishonest media with Anderson Cooper. I read the comments underneath Jake Tapper’s tweets. “CNN putting out more fake news.” “Now are you going to stick to real news? CNN and you have forever lost your integrity credentials.” “News ‘facts’ = fake news.”

I felt like crying a little bit after that one.

But in their transparent effort, I felt something from within. Something stronger than anger, stronger than sadness. There’s something about human nature that when someone’s clear motives are to shut you up, you just want to keep talking.

I felt defiant, motivated. Like I was gearing up for a war I felt passionate about winning.

Because that’s what this feels like. It feels like war. I’m so used to waving my white flag, writing about something so pinpoint specific that you can hardly quarrel with it. Putting one foot in front of the other with a healthy tunnel vision because the grander scale is too dizzying.

And I’ll keep doing that, I’m sure it’s the only way to keep my head screwed on. But this week is different. This week my tunnel vision’s been shot down and I see the bigger picture. I see the gritty, slimy teeth smiling at me, taunting me. A lot of us do.

I was up all night trying to concoct an article that would adequately convince the naysayers that CNN isn’t fake news, that free press is under attack. I had facts and figures and examples, but the complex truth of it just didn’t quite roll off the tongue.

This week, I’m not going to explain why decrying any headline you disagree with as “fake news” is idiotic. This week I’m not giving the sniveling demagogues shouting nonsense on a podium the benefit of explaining why reporting the truth isn’t just “anti-Trump bias.”

It’s all noise. And it hasn’t stopped reporters like Wesley Lowery, Annie Karnie and so many others from doing their jobs exceptionally well over the past few weeks.

It sure as hell isn’t stopping me either. There’s a time and a place for defenses and explanations. But the best things I’ve written, the most powerful things, have been painstakingly simple.

So I have three words for Kellyanne Conway, Donald Voldemort Trump, Jeff Sessions and Twitter trolls of any kind.

Bring it on.