"Enemy of the People": Negotiating News at the White House
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How can the press serve as a check on executive power when the president calls it “fake” and the White House denies facts? As journalists debate the right response, this article offers advice from the perspective of a journalist who is now in the legal academy. Drawing on legal scholarship in the field of conflict resolution — as well as literature in journalism and political science — this article analyzes the White House press briefing as a negotiation over both the content of news and the relationship of the press and president. It aims to help the press fulfill the urgent public need for news: the verified, factual, shared reality that makes self-government possible. Ultimately, the article concludes that the press can improve its negotiating position in several ways. Among them, it should resist anger, formulate expansive goals, use teamwork, and respond to government falsehoods in measured and nimble ways. The press should increase its own transparency in order to build trust and to distinguish its work from the blur of rumors that fill social media. Finally, it should decide in advance what government moves would be unacceptable and what actions it would take in response.
Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution
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